Cowboys 2022 Roster Projection: Final Edition

    With final cuts and other moves coming anytime between now and Tuesday's deadline, it's time to project the Dallas Cowboys' for Week One of the .

    After three preseason games and all the news and developments from training camp we have a much better sense of some of these players than we did in July. Many of these names have been projected since the draft, but some new ones have emerged with signings and unexpected risers from the summer.

    Keep in mind that this is a projection for the Week One roster and not necessarily what it looks like on Tuesday evening. There will likely be some technicalities that day, such as LS getting released for about 24-48 hours while they carry Tyron Smith on the roster and then move him to .

    NFL rules force some of these odd maneuvers during cutdowns. If teams want to designate a player as being eligible to return from IR then they have to carry them on the roster for a brief period after cuts.

    Once the dust settles, this is who I expect to actually be on the team when the Cowboys host the Bucs for the season opener.

    Offense Depth Chart (23)

    Will Grier didn't show as much as we'd have liked on Friday night but I think it was still enough. Cooper Rush can easily make it to the , allowing him to continue to work in the QB room but not take up a roster spot. Grier, a 3rd-round pick in 2019, is more likely to still be on some other teams' radars and poached if released.

    Rico Dowdle makes it as RB3 after a fierce battle with . He's a proven standout on special teams and that's paramount for his role and being active on gamedays. Dallas will hope to get Davis to the practice squad, which isn't unreasonable given the current RB wealth around the league.

    The Cowboys' hope that Michael Gallup can return sooner than Week 5 will keep him on the official roster. He will likely sit out against Tampa and perhaps Cincinnati, but the potential for him to play in those early battles with the Giants and Commanders is too great for Dallas to close the book on just yet.

    I had a tough time leaving Sean McKeon off the roster. Dallas has been protecting him on the 53 the last two seasons for a reason, but that was before they added Ferguson and Hendershot this year. I think they'll now be willing to risk losing McKeon on the practice squad before their new prospects.

    The offensive line is where stuff gets good and messy. As you can see, I'm leaving a “TBD” spot for a player that I expect to be added sometime over the next week. Whether it's a free agent, a claimed player, or some traded for, I just can't fathom the malpractice of not finding some kind of help at offensive tackle after Tyron Smith's injury and the poor showings from our backups.

    That said, it's entirely possible that rookie Tyler Smith will be the LT and that Connor McGovern will move into the starting lineup at guard. That means a likely move to add additional depth at guard, or perhaps someone with the position flex to back up both guard and tackle.

    I could be dead wrong about Josh Ball even making the roster at this point, but it was a year ago that he was seen as a steal in the 4th Round and missed his rookie year due to injury. This would be very quick to pull the plug on his development or risk losing him on the practice squad.

    Defense Depth Chart (27)

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    The defensive depth chart really crystalized over the last few weeks. We already knew most of these players were locks and then guys like Fowler, Hill, Harper, Bland, Mukuamu, and Bell all stood out and seemed to claim their spots on the field in the preseason.

    Keeping or any other DE for six total feels excessive with Micah Parsons and Anthony Barr having pass-rush potential. I think Dallas would rather use that roster spot to secure a young DT prospect like John Ridgeway or a sixth LB in Devin Harper, focusing more on development for the future.

    In a choice between Trysten Hill or I'm going with Hill, both for upside and to satisfy hubris. But I could also see Dallas trying to use Hill in a trade and then keeping Watkins.

    Six linebackers may seem like a lot in the modern NFL, given the prevalence of nickel defense, but you have several injury risks there with Vander Esch, Cox, and Barr. You also have to consider that Barr, Gifford, and Vander Esch are all on one-year contracts in 2022, so securing Harper for 2023 isn't a bad move either.

    The six cornerbacks are pretty easy to pick. DaRon Bland's rise to prominence over Joseph and Wright has been one of the biggest stories of the summer. He may very well be starting opposite Trevon Diggs in 2023 at his current rate.

    I am struggling mightily with what to do with Donovan Wilson. The team is treating him like a key asset by sitting him in preseason games, but excitement is swelling around Israel Mukuamu and Markquese Bell. With Wilson's contract expiring after this year, how much sense does it make to let him take up a roster spot? I could see him as a trade candidate.

    Special Teams (3)

    Leaving special teams ace off the roster is probably going to be my biggest folly. But with Goodwin now 32 years old, how much longer can he keep hogging a roster spot from prospects who provide potential at other positions? Maybe DaRon Bland or another young finally gives Dallas a worthy replacement.

    Again, don't be surprised if McQuaide is released to facilitate moving Tyron Smith and James Washington to injured reserve. Veterans with at least four accrued seasons aren't subject to waivers, making McQuaide a top candidate along with Noah Brown, Dante Fowler, or perhaps C.J. Goodwin (if he's ultimately making the team) to facilitate one of those moves.

    ~ ~ ~

    So, what did I get wrong? Who am I underestimating or overvaluing? Sound off in the comments!

    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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    Mark Kalilikanw

    You are wrong Cooper Rush will be number 2 and Grier will go to the practice squad. Why would you not keep Cooper when he is a proven gamer. Grier is not,


    Cooper would still be available on the Couch Squad. Nobody is going to come calling for him with Jason Garrett out of the league. I’ve even toyed with the idea of them hiring him as an Offensive Quality Control guy to help out Chase Haslett or as an assistant to Doug Nussmeier.


    They should cut both backup QB’s, Kicker & long snapper in order to put Tyron Smith, Washington & Sean McKeon on IR. No one will claim Maher or either QB, but if they do, so what, both K & QB2 positions need upgrades.

    Lawrence C. Baker

    Nothing bit the truth there! Maher should never had been allowed back in AT&T unless he purchased a ticket.

    Rich Smith

    I was excited about the arrival of J. Ridgeway and him wanting to break necks(or some such). After watching him against the Seahawks I was underwhelmed. He was slow, looked gassed, had his hands on his hips after every play.
    I know he could pinch my head off and holler down the hole but I wasnt impressed with anything else.


    Yeah, I’m not sure they even need to protect him on the 53. He showed nice pursuit on a couple of plays, I noticed. But, he didn’t really stand out enough that I expect some team to come calling for him to join their 53.


    Joseph needs to be cut; he can go be a rapper. He’s not serious about playing football. Time for CJ to go. I’d keep Malik as Zeke will be ineffectual. Need another slot for OL.


    Put your money on Under 10.5. First Place schedule, dumping Cooper and Collins, at GB and at Minnesota instead of Eagles getting both at home, Cincinnati, Tampa and Rams, plus having Dumb and Dumber running the team is a recipe for disaster. Order more Johnny Walker Blue, the alcoholics are going to need it.
    Still I’ll be there in person at GB, LA, Minnesota, Philadelphia, NY, Washington and at least once in Dallas. Like a moth to the flame…

    Lawrence C. Baker

    Man I feel you! Have tried to turn my back on this team time and time again only to come running back! Always thinking things will get better, and they never do. Jerry and Stephen Jones. Them Mike McCarthy and Kellen Moore. How much worse can it get????


    I hope this is the roster, especially the TBD at starting left tackle. I completely agree that it would be a fiasco not to add here. Tyler Smith might become a good LT, but moving him now seriously weakens the LG spot and the interior line depth.

    My only real quibble is that Matt Grier is not a viable backup QB. Cooper Rush has that job based off his win last year in Minnesota. I actually thought Ben DiNucci looked better than Grier against Seattle. Made decisions more quickly, and had the same mobility.

    SFC Craig W ESCH, US Army - Ret

    If Tyler Smith starts at LOT?
    Must improve our OG depth?
    Ball to practice squad?
    16 member practice squad?
    McKeon to practice squad!

    Robert G. Davis

    Question: How can the current head coach lose his job, only to bring another coach and go through a rebuilding period all over again. If the current General Manager’s primary task is to incorporate cheap slave labor.
    With the salary cap increasing yearly isn’t the goal to use the money to pursue quality personnel.

    Jasper J

    Looks pretty good, likely to happen.
    Slight differences that should happen:
    1. Cut Ridgeway and Gifford. They will be available for PS
    2. Keep RB Davis and TE McKeon. Both boost 4th Qtr running game and special teams.
    3. Waletzco to PUP, Cut Ball and to PS
    4. Throw the stud rookie Tyler Smith in at LT and he will be tried in the fire like Steele. Yes, trade for a swing tackle or sign a free agent or both.

    Lawrence C. Baker

    Brett Maher, Nashone Wright, and Kelvin Joseph!!!!


    Cuts and Possibilities:
    CB: Kelvin Joseph, Nahshon Wright
    Keep as a backup C.J. Goodwin and with Israel Mukuamu at safety he can help out as CB if needed. You can always look at final roster cuts from around the league.
    QB; Will Grier has a better chance of getting picked up if cut than Cooper Rush. So Cooper to the PS. Clappy is no longer in the league (Jason Garrett)
    RB; Keep Malik Davis over Rico Dowdle, with Dowdle injury history he would be less likely to be picked up from our PS.