5 Biggest Losers From the Dallas Cowboys 2021 Draft

    Fans aren't the only ones who can be left depressed after an . Not only are there the poor potential rookies who didn't hear their names called during the seven rounds, but then there are veteran players whose positions on their teams are hurt by the influx of new talent. Who were the biggest losers for the Dallas Cowboys from the ?

    Yesterday we looked at the Cowboys' biggest winners; whose job security was most solidified or improved by what happened during the draft. Now we're going to look at the other end of that spectrum.

    You will notice that a few of these spots list a couple of players together. That's because their fates were already linked by a common status and perhaps competing with each other for a roster spot. But now, neither may make the team after the rookie additions.

    OTs Brandon Knight & Terence Steele

    It was bad enough for these young prospects that Dallas added veteran as the likely swing tackle in 2021. But at least they were still the guys with upside and actually had some real-game experience to go with it.

    Now Dallas has added 4th-round rookie out of Marshall. He's scouted as a superior talent to where he was drafted and only fell due to conduct issues in college. If the personal problems are behind him, Ball would have a hard time not making the 53-man roster.

    Unless the young guys blow the 35-year-old Nsekhe out of the water then this isn't looking pretty for Knight or Steele. Some teams only keep three offensive tackles and Dallas is already at four, assuming Ball gets rookie deference and isn't an immediate bust. Right now, neither Knight or Steele project to return to the team in 2021 unless it's on the .

    DE Dorance Armstrong

    The Cowboys keep adding young defensive ends and it may finally be too much for Armstrong in his fourth season. With Iowa's coming in the 3rd Round, Dorance may no longer have a chair when the music stops.

    Armstrong was a 4th-round pick in 2018 but has had limited opportunities in his first three seasons. While he may still be one of the better pure pass rushers in the backup mix, Dorance has now been here a while and is on his third defensive coordinator.

    One saving grace for Armstrong could be 's comments after the draft that Dallas will still employ some looks from the . While on the smaller side to be a pure 4-3 , Dorance is one of the best options to play in an OLB/ role.

    In the end, Dallas may look to fill the depth chart with less-experienced developmental options like Golston, Bradlee Anae, and . A 3rd-round pick is no small investment in Golston, so that makes one guy that will have an especially hard time beating for a roster spot.

    DT Antwaun Woods

    It was reported just before the draft that Woods had signed his tender and would be returning to the Cowboys in 2021. But the veteran then saw Dallas add two defensive tackles in the draft, which could mean trouble for Woods and his unguaranteed contract.

    The Cowboys already had two young DT prospects in and from the last two drafts. They also added veterans and in .

    Now come rookies Osa Odighizuwa and . While Bohanna was only a 6th-round pick and hardly a lock for the roster, he does feel a specific need as a true which the team has sorely needed in recent years.

    This creates a real numbers issue for . While he has value in his ability to play either DT spot, his $2.1 million RFA salary has zero guaranteed money. That makes him very vulnerable to be released if Dallas is happy with their younger options and other veterans.

    In the end, Woods has the potential to still be one of the top DTs on the roster and keep his spot through performance. But unless he has a truly standout , this influx of new talent may be his undoing.

    LBs Jaylon Smith & Leighton Vander Esch

    No surprise here, right? With a 1st-round pick spent on Micah Parsons and 4th-rounder being seen as one of the steals of the draft, trouble's brewing for Smith and Vander Esch's long-term job security.

    We already saw this manifest yesterday when Dallas declined to pick up Leighton's 5th-year option for 2022. They're willing to let him become an unrestricted next year rather than keep him on about a $9.1 million salary.

    Dallas clearly expects Parsons to be a major player on the for the next several years given where he was drafted. That would be a stretch for Cox but he has the potential to claim a starting role if he lives up to the current hype.

    Before the draft we already projected that one of Smith or Vander Esch wasn't long for this Cowboys world. But now that we have two exciting young rookies, could both be entering their finals seasons in Dallas?

    Remember, Jaylon becomes realistically cuttable next year. Dallas can get cap relief either releasing him outright or even more after June 1st, 2022. Unless he improves significantly from last season then he won't be worth a scheduled cap hit of over $11 million.

    So yes, things were already a bit bleak for Jaylon and Leighton even before the 2021 Draft began. But with the additions of Parsons and Cox, it feels as if Dallas is planning for at least one of them to definitely be gone after this season. If both deliver, we could see a complete change-up at next year.

    LBs Francis Bernard & Luke Gifford

    Wait, more linebackers? Yes, because while Jaylon Smith and may not lose their jobs until 2022, these backups just might have seen their immediate job security go right down the tubes.

    Before the draft I wrote about how Bernard and Gifford could be in trouble if Dallas brought in some fresh faces. That's exactly what happened, and now both have gone from being key backups to potentially not making the team in just one weekend.

    Not only did the Parsons and Cox but it was also adamantly reiterated that would be converting to linebacker in Dallas. That gives you Neal, the two rookies, Smith, and Vander Esch as your top five LBs on paper.

    Based on team history that probably leaves just one spot on the 53-man roster for either Bernard or Gifford. Their one saving grace could be if Dallas goes short at , given Neal's versatility, and perhaps keeps seven linebackers.

    The ripple effect here is obvious. Two new guys just gobbled up two roster spots; spots that would've probably gone to Bernard and Gifford before the draft. Now the two hopefuls have a lot less hope, and perhaps only one roster spot to fight over, heading into training camp.

    Jess Haynie
    Jess Haynie
    Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!


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    Don Howard

    You forgot to mention the the most important one the Dallas Cowboys team


    I really think Anthony Brown is going to be the odd man out at CB. He doesn’t fit the physical profile that Quinn cherishes. His performance has been very up and down, mostly down. Plus, he signed his new contract last year under Nolan. Cutting him only saves $1M ($5.75M cap hit, $4.75M dead cap). But, they can use that $1M somewhere else.

    Jourdan Lewis is safe because he just signed his contract and there are rumors he may be in the mix at Safety. Plus, he costs more to cut than to keep.

    If one or more of Kelvin Joseph, Nahshon Wright, Maurice Canady, Israel Mukuamu (S?), or Reggie Robinson II (S?) impress in camp, I could see him getting traded for a conditional 6th or 7th or just cut if there are no takers for his $4.5M ($5M next year) base salary.

    Dave SC58

    I think the Cowboys will keep 10 offensive lineman on the 53-Man roster. 3 will make the Practice Squad, and 2 will be released:

    53-Man Roster:
    Tackles: Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, Terrence Steele, and Josh Ball
    Guards: Zack Martin, Conner Williams, Conner McGovern, and Matt Farniok
    Centers: Tyler Biadasz, and Adam Redmond

    Practice Squad:
    Brandon Knight, Braylon Jones, Isaac Alarcón (exemption)

    Mitch Hyatt, Ty Nsecke

    As for the Defensive Ends, My guess is:

    DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, Chauncey Golston, Tarell Basham, Bradlee Anae and Ron’Dell Carter make the 53-Man Roster. No Practice Squad DEs.

    Ladarius Hamilton and Dorance Armstrong will be released.

    Defensive Tackle is a big toss-up! So many guys could possibly make the team but only 4 will be on the roster:

    Brent Urban, Neville Gallimore, Trysten Hill, Osa Odighizuwa

    Quinton Bohanna will make the Practice Squad.

    Antwaun Woods, Justin Hamilton, Carlos Watkins, Walter Palmore, Austin Faoliu will be released.

    As far as the Linebackers are concerned, Micah Parsons, Leighton Vander Esch, Keanu Neal, Jaylon Smith and Jabril Cox will all be on the roster. That adds up to 5. The Cowboys may keep only 5, however, if they do keep a sixth, it will be between Francis Bernard, Luke Gifford, and Azur Kamara. whoever does not make it will be added to the Practice Squad.

    All of this is barring injury, which we know ALWAYS rears its ugly head. So some of these guys may be on IR, which affects the roster and the practice squad. They could end up releasing nobody!!!


    Here’s my final 53 man projections

    QB Dak and Gilbert
    RB Zeke, Pollard, and Oloniula
    WR Cooper, Gallup, Lamb, Wilson, Fehoko and Brown
    TE Schultz, Jarwin, Sprinkle and Eubanks
    OL Smith, Williams, Biadasz, Martin, Collins, Steele, McGovern, Nyseke and Farniok

    DE Lawrence, Gregory, Basham, Golston, Armstrong and Carter
    DT Woods, Gallimore, Urban, Bohanna
    LB Parsons, Cox, Neal, Smith, Bernard, Gifford
    CB Diggs, Joesph, Lewis, Brown, Canady and Goodwin
    S Wilson Kazee Robinson Mukuamau

    ST Zuerlein Niswander McQuaide

    Definitely forsee some cuts here that will shock people like LVE. Other players like Anae and Wright wont be cut they’ll be practice squad players

    Gary b

    Steele started off very shaky but improved as the season progressed. But with that said I would go with Knight instead. They are both UDFAs so I’m not sure what their ceiling is. They were both thrown to the wolves too early so it’s hard to properly evaluate them.

    I know Goodwin is listed as a CB but I’ve never actually seen him play the position. If they had to count on him for any reps they are in big trouble. But he’s their best ST player (I guess) so he keeps making the team based on that.

    Sean Leonard

    I think Cowboys replenished, not replaced, the linebacker personnel. Sean Lee and Joe Thomas left, so in comes Parsons and Cox.

    Lawrence Baker

    Jaylon Smith should’ve been released after last year’s horrible performance. He’s either a drug abuser or certifiably insane to think he was an sset to the Cowboys defense. He clearly never made it back from that injury he sustained at Notre Same. Time to admit the mistake and move on. Leighton Vander Each is nothing more than a one trick pony and a wasted first round pick! Jerry and his idiot son need a football General Manager in the worst way! This team was set back for years by having a CLOWN like Garrett around for far too long!!! Then the suspect draft picks ( Taco Charlton, Trystin Hill, and Chidobe Awuzie) to name a few. This organization is poorly managed, period!!! Things will always be bad in Dallas until Jerry and Stephen Jones are no longer involved in day to day operations.

    Scott duckworth

    Lawrence wtf are u talking about “ He’s either a drug abuser or certifiably insane to think he was an sset to the Cowboys defense. He clearly never made it back from that injury“. Jaylon plays his guts out every game and Your comments are a joke and offensive! I am sure Jaylon would be first to own up to the need to play better but you sir are ignorant!!!