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Cowboys 2021 Roster Projection: Post-Draft Edition

The 2021 NFL Draft has come and gone, bringing 11 new drafted rookies and even more undrafted free agents to the Dallas Cowboys. With so many new names to account for, it seems a great time to update our projection for the 2021 season.

Yesterday the Cowboys released DT Antwaun Woods, G/C Adam Redmond, and four other players to meet the NFL's requirement for offseason roster size. Woods and Redmond were the only two from that group who were projected to make the team this year.

There could be more changes between now and training camp. As we saw last year, veteran free agents could still be added over the next few months. This is when Dallas added QB Andy Dalton and OT Cam Erving in 2020.

Also, we don't know for sure what roster sizes and practice squad rules will look like for 2021. The NFL hasn't confirmed if last year's modifications for COVID-19 will be carried over to this season, so we're going to use the traditional rules in this projection until we hear otherwise.

We'll definitely be coming back around with another projection before camp to account for any potential moves or policy changes. But for now, based on what's happened with the draft and its immediate aftermath, here's the latest 53-man roster projection for the 2021 Dallas Cowboys.

Offense Depth Chart (23)

The hardest decision here was how many quarterbacks to keep. But when I looked at having to cut Noah Brown or Simi Fehoko, I ultimately decided that a third QB was less valuable now and down the road.

Going with Gilbert over DiNucci as backup QB is about more than just how they each played in their single games last season. That Dallas hasn't added any other QB talent through free agency or the draft thus far says they must feel okay about someone on the current roster. That can't be DiNucci based on what we know so far, so you've got to assume it's Gilbert.

With Michael Gallup, Cedrick Wilson, and Noah Brown all becoming free agents in 2022 I think Dallas has to go long at WR to protect Fehoko. Even if the rookie has a great camp and preseason, Wilson and Brown still fill valuable special teams roles.

It wasn't hard to pick the top eight offensive linemen; five starters plus Nsekhe, McGovern, and the rookie Ball as backups. I am going with Brandon Knight as the ninth guy given his versatility as a or guard. Plus, after last year, keeping an extra OT option around doesn't seem like a bad idea.

Of course, Dallas will probably keep Terence Steele for some inexplicable reason and just to make me look bad.

Cowboys rookie LB , CB , & DT Osa Odighizuwa

Defense Depth Chart (27)

getting cut made this a little easier. But now the DT group feels fairly certain, provided 6th-round pick doesn't shove his way into the mix. I could see him supplanting Carlos Watkins if Dallas feels like they need a true nose tackle and he's ready to contribute, but we need some evidence from July/August before I can take that leap.

I debated dumping on of the six defensive ends to make room for Bohanna or a seventh linebacker, but there's still a lot of uncertainty with this bunch. Dorance Armstrong may have already worn out his welcome but he's also one of the best candidates to play some EDGE in some of the proposed 3-4 packages.

Because Armstrong has some 3-4 OLB potential I felt like I could go with just six at linebacker. Francis Bernard gets the nods over Luke Gifford for the last spot as less experienced player (though surprisingly, he's actually a few months older).

As for the defensive backs, C.J. Goodwin is truly a specialist and really only here for his Pro Bowl-worthy work on special teams. That's why we're going a little long at cornerback.

Probably the boldest move on this projection is cutting veteran Jayron Kearse at safety. While he was just signed in free agency, Kearse felt more like a backup and special teams guy and only got a minimal contract with almost no guaranteed money. I think Dallas ends up parting with the 27-year-old to work with younger options.

Special Teams (3)

With nothing to debate at and , the one decision to make here was between Niswander and at punter. In what should be an interesting competition, I think the younger Niswander keeps building on last year's strong showing as the interim and fights off the 32-year-old veteran.

What do you think?

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Jess Haynie

Written by 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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  1. I’ve Been a Cowboy fan since I was 8 years old I think the roster looks great I think we’re going to have an awesome season can’t wait for the first game.

  2. Steele actually made visible, measurable progress last year. He is more likely to earn his spot that the 36yo Nsekhe or the late round rookie Josh Ball.

    Bohanna will make the team in place of Watkins or Urban will go.

    Micah Parsons will start at Mike or at Will. Training camp will be about finding the best mix. Smith and LVE played best in 2018 with Smith at Mike and LVE at Will but one of them will start at SAM.
    Neal May be a “LB” but he will not start at Will over LVE or Cox; he will likely start at safety alongside Wilson.

    • Josh Ball was a 4th-round pick, not a “late round” rookie. He’ll have to be really bad to not make the team. And Steele may have improved last year but he’s still not better than Brandon Knight.

  3. Bohanna will make this team!! I believe he’s the only reason they cut Woods!!
    And Hawgsrus…. Wright and Golston will make this team!! They both are 3rd round picks…. No team is gonna put their 3rd round picks on the practice squad, or cut them!! So both of them will make the team!! I actually believe that all of these draft picks will make the team except for the 7th round guy!! They’ll have to do a lot of moving around to make that happen, but I do think it will happen!!

  4. I like it Jess & agree with almost every position you listed. I don’t feel strongly about the defense you predicted as the other fans who responded but personally think they should resign Joe Looney for some depth at center & guard. I’m guessing Ball gets relegated to the practice squad. Nevertheless looks like a solid team to me.

    • I am still waiting for news that Dallas has re-signed Looney at any point between now and camp. If they don’t, it means they’re all-in on Connor McGovern as the versatile G/C backup.

  5. Anae and Bohanna are making team. Carlos Watkins and Anthony Brown are odd men out. Dorance Armstrong will be gone also . If can’t displace a guy like Randy Gregory, after a 2 year hiatus, then its time to move on. Armstrong has reached his ceiling.

  6. I think Bohanna makes the team. One of Anae, Armstrong, or Bernard will not. With our upgrade and versatility at LB, not sure if we keep 6 LB’s. Though I think all in all, it is a pretty good list at this point in time.

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