Cowboys 2016 Position Battle Overview ✭
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Cowboys 2016 Position Battle Overview

Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys Position Battle Overview

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys 2016 Position Battle Overview

The Cowboys are currently engaged in voluntary Organized Team Activities and will have mandatory mini-camps in the coming weeks. Even though the real battles don’t start until the official Training Camp in Oxnard, CA, plenty of things can happen during these practices that help or hurt players’ positioning for roster spots and playing time. Here is an overview of some of the clear competitions that exist on the Cowboys roster right now. This year just about every position has some intrigue: Quarterback How much will Dallas consider rookie Dak Prescott for the number-two spot?

The Cowboys are currently engaged in voluntary Organized Team Activities and will have mandatory mini-camps in the coming weeks. Even though the real battles don’t start until the official Training Camp in Oxnard, CA, plenty of things can happen during these practices that help or hurt players’ positioning for roster spots and playing time.

Here is an overview of some of the clear competitions that exist on the Cowboys roster right now. This year just about every position has some intrigue:

Cowboys Draft - Cowboys Should be Happy to "Settle" for Dak Prescott 1Quarterback

How much will Dallas consider rookie Dak Prescott for the number-two spot? Right now it seems likely that Kellen Moore will retain his backup job while Prescott develops as a third QB. However, if Prescott can be a quick learner then it the Cowboys can certainly be motivated to let him assume the role and save a roster spot.

Running Back

Darren McFadden is facing pressure from all sides. Obviously, Ezekiel Elliott has arrived to take the bulk of the carries. McFadden will be competing with veteran Alfred Morris for the backup role and has to worry about young prospects in Rod Smith and Darius Jackson behind him. Lance Dunbar won’t be back until sometime during the season but will have to hope there’s still an opening for him upon return.

Fullback

Dallas didn’t bring back Tyler Clutts or add any true fullbacks in free agency or the draft. They instead appear to be trying to convert guys from other positions, such as running back Rod Smith or linebacker Keith Smith.  In fact, Keith Smith is already listed as a fullback on the Cowboys official roster page. Every tight end not named Jason Witten could also be in consideration.

News & Notes - Filling The Dez Void: Brice Butler Acquired, A Look At The PlayerReceiver

Terrance Williams and Brice Butler could be fighting for a starting job. Third-year player Devin Street will have to worry about undrafted rookies and other prospects who may show more upside. Lucky Whitehead will continue to push for an expanded offensive role, perhaps carving into some of the routes that Lance Dunbar and even Cole Beasley usually play.

Tight End

James Hanna will be the number-two receiver by default with Gavin Escobar injured and will fight to keep that job when he returns. Depth chart competition will commence between Swaim, Traylor, and Rico Gathers as at least one and maybe two of them should earn roster spots.

Offensive Tackle

I’ve heard recent talk that Chaz Green, once though to be getting moved to guard, could be back in the mix at tackle. Word is that Dallas will give him every opportunity to prove himself to at least take the swing tackle job for Charles Brown and maybe even challenge Doug Free as a starter. That seems a major leap of faith, but Green was drafted in the third round for a reason.

ron-learyGuard/Center

You’ve already seen that Ron Leary has requested a trade. Even if he stays, he and veteran free agent addition Joe Looney will co-exist as the backup on the interior line. If Leary does get moved, Dallas has a couple of young guards in Jared Smith and Boston Stiverson to compete. Looney is the backup center right now but undrafted rooke Jake Brendel is also in the mix.

Defensive End

This is a fun one! With DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory suspended you’ve got a bunch of guys all competing to actually be Week One starters. Free agent Benson Mayowa, rookie Charles Tapper, and veterans David Irving, Jack Crawford, and Ryan Russell are all in contention. Lawrence is sure to start when he gets back, but Gregory isn’t a sure thing. One of these guys may end up starting all 16 games.

Defensive Tackle

The top three seem set with Tyrone Crawford, Cedric Thornton, and third-round pick Maliek Collins. Terrell McClain is a favorite to stick around if he can actually stay healthy. He’ll be fighting off prospects Casey Walker and Rodney Coe, along with Jack Crawford and Irving as they have the ability to play inside.

Linebacker

Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys Re-Sign Linebacker Kyle WilberThe starting strongside job is open and any of Kyle Wilber, Anthony Hitchens, Damien Wilson, or Andrew Gachkar could take it. Even second-year player Mark Nzeocha, who was an injury redshirt most of last year, could be in the mix. Also up for grabs are primary backup roles all across the position. This will be a wide open and intriguing group to watch all summer.

Cornerback

Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne will likely compete for a starting job, though both will get plenty of playing time regardless. Young players Deji Olatoye and Terrance Mitchell will look to build on last year’s flashes and could be fighting for the same roster spot. Sixth-round picks aren’t guaranteed to make the roster but Dallas had a fourth-round grade on rookie Anthony Brown, so expect him to compete.

Safety

Byron Jones appears set as the starting free safety, though nothing’s been made official. Can J.J. Wilcox give Barry Church a fight for the other spot? If not, how will Wilcox stack up as a backup option and special teamer against Jeff Heath? Rookie Kavon Frazier, also graded in the fourth-round according to Stephen Jones, can’t be ignored either.

~ ~ ~

You can be sure that we’ll be diving much deeper into the position battles as we get closer to Training Camp. For now, these are just some of the dynamics that the coaches are players are considering as they watch these guys in practice. The roster is ever churning, though, and one injury can change plenty.

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!

5 Comments
  • George Johnson

    They are not getting rid of Kellen Moore until they determine whether he can't play in the NFL or not. Right now S Linehan and other Dallas coaches/front office think he can play in the NFL and be effective or they would have brought in a veteran QB to compete with K Moore. D Prescott is not going to be ready until 2017 unless he is a franchise or elite type QB who can play well from the start, sort of like R Wilson did. Showers won't be able to beat out K Moore and therefore K Moore is the 2nd team backup until he proves he can't do the job. If T Romo goes down I believe K Moore will be able to step in and win some games and have good QB stats especially with a good running game and solid offensive line.

    • http://PigskinHub.com/ Jess Haynie

      We know, George.

  • George Johnson

    Jess Haynie: Instead of making comments that seem to reflect wishful thinking/non-objective thinking on your part and in my opinion put downs of K Moore and his skills/abilities, why don't you write an article or make comments about why D Prescott and Showers will not likely be able to beat out K Moore for the 2nd team QB position in 2016? How about why the coaches seem to think K Moore can do the job even though he has physical limitations? How about the strengths and weaknesses of K Moore and how he might overcome his weaknesses to be able to be a solid 2nd team backup or even a starter someday if he keeps improving? Or if you don't think K Moore can play in the NFL, why not provide a detailed analysis of why he probably can't play?

    • https://insidethestar.com/ Bryson Treece

      No offense intended, but you don't see those articles (anywhere, not just here) BECAUSE the general consensus among the football world is that Moore has limited upside. Prescott and Showers are each younger, fresher, and totally unproven. Preseason games are not proving grounds for a QB in the NFL, except week 3 in the first half, which Romo plays. I get that you love Kellen Moore, we all get it, as Jess alluded to with his comment, but he's had 4 years to be something you want him to be and he just hasn't done it. Whatever the reasons, he has done it. Great players get it done no matter the obstacles before them. And I say this at risk of "poking the bear" but K Moore is not a starting QB on the Cowboys. He is not better than Romo, he is not a lock for backup QB in 2016. So-called "experts" have said why time and time again. I, at least, agree with expert opinions of Moore.

  • George Johnson

    Bryson Treece: I agree that K Moore will never be as good as T Romo. Also, Prescott and possibly Showers could beat K Moore out for 2nd team QB position in the future, just not 2016. Also, the so called experts you mentioned did not draft K Moore even though he has proven he should have been drafted in the later rounds. These same experts didn't think K Moore could even play in the NFL, which he has basically proven them wrong again. He has always played way better than anyone thinks he can play. He may surprise again, especially if he keeps improving. The Dallas coaches I believe can see K Moore is close to being very good. A few better plays in 2015 and he could have won one game and possibly two. His deficiencies in 2015 ( too many interceptions, too few touchdown throws and not enough accuracy) were areas he has always excelled at in the past so he is likely to improve/correct these deficiencies. It could be his pocket passing skills/abilities are so outstanding that he can overcome his physical limitations to play in the NFL. It is looking more encouraging each year. All K Moore needs is a really good game in preseason at 2nd team or during the season and the fans an sports writers might start changing their toon. The Boise State fans loved K Moore and still do, not because of his personality but because of his play on the field.

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