Every year fans tend to go a little crazy over players who seemingly show up in a big way during preseason only to be cut when the final 53 is announced.
With the task of fielding a legitimate Special Teams unit, replacing injured players that will come back at some time during the regular season, and accounting for players who are suspended for the start of the season (Scandrick) the coaches often have to make tough choices when it comes to certain players that otherwise are worthy of a spot on a final 53.
The following is my list of guys on the bubble who have potential of being that next star player somewhere else.
Dustin Vaughan – Dustin tops my list. As a result of the aforementioned issues, it will be very difficult for the Cowboys to go 3-deep at QB. However, given the potential of Tony Romo reinjuring his back, Vaughan still has an outside chance to be the player backing up Weeden, should the unthinkable happen.
Ryan Williams – Based on his few carries against lesser-competition, Ryan Williams could be the better running back. But unless the Cowboys keep four, which is doubtful, Williams is likely on the outside looking in considering Randle’s ability to contribute on Special Teams.
Jakar Hamilton – The 2nd year Safety has drawn much praise during training camp, but has failed to impress during the actual games. If the Cowboys keep 5 safeties, he would be my choice for the 5th at this point in preseason.
Jamar Newsome – As Dustin Vaughan’s favorite target, he has made a strong case for belonging on the final 53. Trouble is, the Cowboys likely do not keep more than 6 receivers, and 5 spots are locked down. The 6th, in my opinion, will likely go to LaRon Byrd.
Zach Minter – He has played in one game after only one practice, and was able to establish himself in a manner that none of the other defensive lineman have been able to do in 2 preseason games. It could be argued that he had the benefit of playing against a Guard who likely doesn’t make the Ravens final 53, and he seemed to struggle against the run, however, he finished with 4 tackles, 2 sacks, two tackles for loss, a quarterback hurry and a forced fumble.
LaRon Byrd – It’s hard to imagine Byrd not making the team. At 6-4 220 lbs. and the ripe age of 25, he has caught just about everything thrown in his direction during training camp and preseason games. However, given the separation of talent being minimal between him and 3 other players likely vying for the same spot, he very well could find himself playing for a different team this year.
Davon Coleman – Henry Melton and Terrell McClain are locks. Amobi Okoye reportedly returns to practice this week for the Cowboys. Nick Hayden is the incumbent veteran. Tyrone Crawford is a better fit as a DT. Zack Minter – in limited work – showed up more than any one of the above in 1 game… after 1 practice. While it's difficult to imagine a final 53 without Coleman, given the above considerations, it is not entirely unthinkable.
It is my personal belief that if any of the above are cut for any of the aforementioned reasons, these players will not make it past the waiver wire. However, should they make it to the Cowboys practice squad, they are a few injuries across the NFL away from fielding offers.
I am hoping the Cowboys continue with their trend of opting to develop youth and weathering the growing pains over choosing players whose abilities have peaked at average or worse. All of the above have a strong chance of making the team.
At this point, though, it truly is anybody's guess as to what the coaches see and believe.