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5 Thoughts on Recent Dallas Cowboys 53-man Roster Projection

Now that the has come and gone, the task of projecting the 2021 53-man roster begins to take center stage. Yesterday, here at InsideTheStar.com, Senior Writer Jess Haynie took his first shot at projecting the Dallas Cowboys’ active roster for the start of the .

While projecting a roster four months ahead of time can be difficult, it gives us a basis from which to work as the team goes into OTAs, minicamp, and .

Here are my thoughts on Jess Haynie’s projection.

1. Special Teams Will Take Priority

CJ Goodwin isn’t a player that you expect to give you high-level snaps at . Frankly, if you’re having to play Goodwin at corner, you’ve had some terrible luck. But that’s not why he’s here. He’s one of the best players in the NFL and someone you have to keep on your roster simply for his prowess covering kicks.

The same could be said for Jayron Kearse, the safety the Dallas signed this offseason. He’s a strong safety by nature, playing well in the box and against the run, but he’s also a really good special teams player.

On Haynie’s projection, he opted to go with Israel Mukuamu as the back up to at strong safety. That’s certainly possible, but I think Kearse’s special teams ability will push him past the rookie for the final spot on the safety depth chart.

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Dallas Cowboys QB Garrett Gilbert

2. The Right Two Quarterbacks

While there was a lot of discussion about bringing in a veteran to backup at , I think Jess made the right decision keeping Garrett Gilbert to serve in that reserve role.

Gilbert showed in his start against the Pittsburgh Steelers that he was capable of putting together a solid performance if needed in a pinch. With not yet back from injury, the Cowboys added Gilbert just before their game against the . Because Gilbert wasn’t ready to play, the Cowboys had to start . That did not go well.

So expectations were tempered when it came to Gilbert’s start against the Steelers. He was solid, going 21 of 38 for 243 yards, one touchdown, one interception, and added 28 yards on three carries. He showed poise in the pocket and the Cowboys had a lead late in that game. It took 15 points from the Steelers to pull out the win, including a touchdown with just over two minutes remaining to pull out the win.

Sure it wasn’t a stellar performance, but he gave you exactly what you want from your ; a chance to win the game.

With roster needs elsewhere, the Cowboys will likely need to go light at quarterback and keep a third backup on the practice squad.

3. Offensive Line Flexibility Incredibly Valuable

Connor McGovern’s ability to play several spots along the gives the Dallas Cowboys some roster construction flexibility. Jess left the team without a true backup at center, but McGovern can play center, , and and is a perfect backup offensive lineman for the gameday roster.

That flexibility will likely lead to a reserve role if all things are equal between he and Connor Williams. The Cowboys would likely opt to keep Williams experience on the field and McGovern’s flexibility on the bench to use on the interior if they get in a pinch.

This is why Brandon Knight will get a spot on the roster even though the Cowboys brought in to play offensive tackle as well. Knight’s ability to play guard helps give the Cowboys some flexibility in the reserve roles. They can carry just eight offensive linemen to the gameday roster to allow more players at other spots.

Terence Steele is the notable absence on the 53-man roster after playing nearly the entirety of the 2020 season. It was an up and down season for him and the Cowboys may opt to let Steele continue to develop on the practice squad. His main competition for a roster spot comes from fourth-round pick .

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4. No Fullback, No Problem

As the NFL continues down the path of passing the football, the traditional running game has evolved as well. The Cowboys, like a lot of teams in the NFL have shifted to running 11-personnel as their base . Therefore the is getting much less run than they did even 10 years ago. In situations where the Cowboys would use a formation calling for a fullback, it’s likely they would use Dalton Schultz or offseason Jeremy Sprinkle to act as the defacto fullback in the formation.

As the Cowboys likely opt to go long at and maybe even , they have to sacrifice somewhere and I think is the spot.

5. Quinton Bohanna No Matter What

As you look at the 53-man roster, it’s hard to figure how they’re going to be able to keep Quinton Bohanna on the roster with the depth they have along the defensive line. They’ve got a lot of depth on the interior as well.

Between Carlos Watkins, , and , they’ve got three guys that can help at 1-technique . The struggle I have with leaving Bohanna off of the 53-man roster is leaving that size and strength on the sidelines when you know the struggles that the Cowboys have had controlling to trenches. Bohanna doesn’t offer much as a pass rusher, but that’s not why the Cowboys drafted him.

Haynie does hedge with the possibility that Bohanna could bump a guy like Carlos Watkins off the roster with a strong training camp but states he’ll have to prove it.

If I were the Dallas Cowboys and was constructing the roster, I would do whatever it took to have the rookie from Kentucky on my gameday roster. This team has struggled too much against offensive lines that are quick to the second level like the Rams, Browns, and Vikings. Bohanna would slow the offensive line’s ability to climb to their second-level blocks, which allows this group of linebackers to do what they do best and that’s run and hit.

What do you think?

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Written by John Williams

Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual, reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.

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4 Comments

  1. I agree with about everything you said except for the part where you think Kearse will beat out Mukuamu…. Mukuamu is a really good player, the only reason he wasn’t talked about as much during the draft process is cause he got injured, they said it it wasn’t for him getting injured him and Horn were gonna be one of the best corner duos in college!! And like you said, these coaches like players with flexibility, and Mukuamu can play corner and safety, so I think that gives him the edge over Kearse!! Plus Mike Mccarthy, Jerry Jones and Steven Jones and Will McClay talked about how much they like Mukuamu in their last press conference they had!! And they were talking about how they are gonna try playing him at free safety too, not strong safety!! I actually think this whole rookie class will make the team except for the 7th round guard we got!! They’ll have to do a lot of trading and releasing of other players for it to happen, but I believe it will happen!!

  2. If all this talk of flexibility along the line is to be believed then i feel like Matt Farniok and Braylon Jones can be potential dark horse players to make the roster since they can play multiple positions.

    I read Jeff Driskell is coming for a visit. He would be a player id have more faith in a pinch than Dinucci and can compete with Gilbert for back role.

    I have to agree on the Bohanna talk he was drafted for a reason and i believe he makes the roster. I’m prediciting our DLine to be Lawrence, Gregory, Basham, Goodson, Anae, Odighizuwa, Urban, Hill, Gallimore and Bohanna.

    If ST is to take priority than i believe Kearse makes this roster if not as a S then maybe move him to LB in the same way they did Neal.

    My hot take is that we will have 1 high profile cut. I feel like it maybe LVE, Brown or Armstrong

  3. What about Azur Kamara? There is almost zero intel on his injury last year, progress, or status. Compared to the other two UDFA LBs – Gifford & Bernard, Kamara has the better athletic profile, room for development/upside. If he is healthy and shows up on special teams perhaps he beats those two out as the sixth LB. He was an edge in college, perhaps best at SAM. Thoughts?

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