OXNARD, Calif. — The best jock in DFW is not a member of the Dallas Cowboys, but Dez Bryant ranks a firm third in that category. Don’t argue. It’s fact.These types of sports bar debates provide endless fun and chatter, but it is with great satisfaction and smugness that Dez is No. 3.This is a man many people, including several in the Cowboys’ organization, were skeptical of when he was selected with the 24th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.Dez has had his share of stupid since then, but this is a guy who has grown up and figured it out. Save for two stupid sideline episodes last season — at Detroit and vs. Green Bay — it’s all been all good, all the time with Dez.Credit the Cowboys, Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett for sticking with him. And credit Dez for recognizing there was one guy to watch, and follow.“I have to follow that kind of person on and off the field,” Dez said Sunday.He is speaking about tight end Jason Witten.“I don’t know if I respect anybody as much as I respect him,” Dez said. “He’s been good to me since I’ve been here. He’s been amazing to me.”Unlike so many other times when the Cowboys hurriedly, and needlessly, buried their potential free agents in money, this time there is little to no concern that, when Jerry extends Dez, it will be stupid money.Dez is one of the best players at his position, and at age 25 is entering the prime of his career.That’s why he is No. 3 on DFW’s Best Jocks. To make this list you have to be under 30, in your prime and one of the very best at your job.1. Jamie Benn, LW, Dallas StarsSo maybe you do not follow the Dallas Stars, but this is the man you need to know. He was first-team all-NHL last season, and was one of the best players for Team Canada’s gold medal team in the 2014 Olympics.Benn is 25, and last season he scored 34 goals and had 79 points. He is a beast on the power play and penalty kill and physically is too much to handle for just about every other team.Benn is the Stars’ best player since Mike Modano.He is the best individual player in DFW.2. Yu Darvish, starting pitcher, Texas RangersRangers general manager Jon Daniels is fighting with Jerry Jones for the top spot in the DFW Tiger Pit of Death, but Daniels did get it right on Yu.The Rangers stink, but it’s not because of Darvish, 27, who is one of the best starters in baseball.He is 39-25 with a 3.27 ERA in his three years with the Rangers and has not shown a single sign of wearing down.3. Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas CowboysDez is 25, and has improved every season since he came into the league. One on one, he is pretty much unguardable. He has 25 touchdowns in the past two seasons, and he made his first Pro Bowl in 2013.Dez has some hot-head stupid in him every so often, but he cares and wants it as much as anybody.4. Tyron Smith, OT, CowboysOnly because Smith plays a position that is difficult to quantify does he rank this low. A case can be made for him being No. 1. Smith is only 23, and he is arguably the best or second-best player at his position.He has started every game but one since he entered the league as a first-round pick in 2011. Last season, he was second-team All-Pro.The Cowboys recently gave Smith a long extension, and there is no reason he will not be one of the best left tackles for years to come.5. Monta Ellis, SG, MavericksMajor props to the Mavs last summer for stealing Ellis off the free-agent market. Ellis averaged 19 points and 5.7 assists in his first year for the Mavs, and took the scoring burden off Dirk Nowitzki.Ellis is 28, and has demonstrated that he is durable and a smart player.Honorable Mention• Derek Holland, pitcher, Rangers• Tyler Seguin, forward, Stars• Valeri Nichushkin, forward, Stars• Chandler Parsons, forward, Mavericks• Dan Bailey, kicker, Cowboys• Travis Frederick, center, Cowboys Follow Mac Engel on The Big Mac Blog at star-telegram/com/sports/.
Mac Engel, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @macengelprof