The 2022 NFL Draft is in the books and many undrafted free agents have already found homes. Based on the current state of their roster after these events, how are the Dallas Cowboys looking as they restock and retool for next season?
With nine newly drafted rookies and plenty more UDFAs freshly signed, Dallas has a lot of new factors to consider in this early 53-man roster projection. And with Stephen Jones already stating that the team isn't done in free agency yet, which is consistent with recent history, more talent will likely added over the next few months before training camp.
But if the season did start tomorrow, what could the Cowboys be putting on the field?
Offense Depth Chart (23)
- QB: Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush
- RB: Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, Rico Dowdle
- FB: Ryan Nall
- WR: CeeDee Lamb, James Washington, Noah Brown
- WR: Michael Gallup (IR/PUP), Jalen Tolbert, Simi Fehoko
- TE: Dalton Schultz, Sean McKeon, Jake Ferguson
- OT: Tyron Smith, Matt Waletzko
- G: Tyler Smith, Connor McGovern
- C: Tyler Biadasz, Matt Farniok
- G: Zack Martin
- OT: Terence Steele, Josh Ball
With Prescott proving he was back to good health last year, only one missed game after the major 2020 injury, Dallas can afford to skip on a third QB this season if they want. If the new practice squad rules stay in effect it's much easier to keep an emergency guy there than securing him with a roster spot. Cooper Rush and Will Grier should have a good battle but I'll stick with Rush for now.
It could be that Rico Dowdle, Ryan Nall, and other backs will all be fighting for the same roster spot. But with their added ability to contribute on special teams, Dowdle and Nall have a paths to both make the team. Using Nall as a lead blocker could also be a boost to the running game, which hasn't looked as good since Keith Smith became a Raider.
Michael Gallup probably starts the year on injured reserve or the Physically Unable to Perform list, which means he doesn't count in the math here. Adding Jalen Tolbert in the 3rd round gives the Cowboys a much-needed boost for Gallup's absence and hopefully enough to get by. This is one spot where another veteran free agent won't surprise me.
Jake Ferguson likely bumps Jeremy Sprinkle off the roster for blocking purposes and more upside as a receiver. He should have a nice battle with Sean McKeon for snaps and opportunities behind franchise player Dalton Schultz.
The Cowboys got their new left guard, for this year at least, with Tyler Smith in the 1st round. He may eventually slide over to replace Tyron Smith but for now he'll provide a big talent boost next to him. Matt Waletzko will join Josh Ball as young depth at the tackles. And after Stephen Jones said that Matt Farniok could push Tyler Biadasz as starting center, it sounds like last year's 7th-round pick will at least be the backup in 2022.
Defense Depth Chart (26)
- DE: DeMarcus Lawrence, Chauncey Golston
- DT: Carlos Watkins, Osa Odighizuwa, John Ridgeway
- DT: Neville Gallimore, Trysten Hill
- DE: Dorance Armstrong, Sam Williams, Dante Fowler
- LB: Jabril Cox, Damone Clark (IR/PUP)
- LB: Micah Parsons, Luke Gifford, Aaron Hansford
- LB: Leighton Vander Esch, Devin Harper
- CB: Trevon Diggs, Kelvin Joseph, Nahshon Wright
- CB: Anthony Brown, Jourdan Lewis, DaRon Bland
- S: Malik Hooker, Israel Mukuamu
- S: Jayron Kearse, Donovan Wilson
The addition of Sam Williams is probably bad news for Tarell Basham. With Micah Parsons part of the pass-rushing mix as well, Basham and Dante Fowler are likely competing for the same roster spot at defensive end.
John Ridgeway could bump Quinton Bohanna to the practice squad as the new big-boned tackle. But Carlos Watkins is hardly guaranteed a spot as a veteran journeyman, plus Trysten Hill's window to catch on in Dallas is nearly closed. Defensive tackle is going to be a fun position to watch this summer as only Gallimore and Odighizuwa are clear locks.
Damone Clark will likely spend the entire year in a reserve status as he recovers from spinal fusion surgery. I could easily see another veteran added before we get to camp, but if Dallas sticks with young prospects then 6th-round pick Devin harper and UDFA Aaron Hansford are who I think fill out the depth chart. Hansford could be one of the best steals of the UDFA group, having a 4th-round grade from NFL.com's Lance Zierlein.
Kelvin Joseph's future appears safe for now, leaving the CB group stable for next year. Rookie DaRon Bland won't have much competition for the sixth spot but has to hope there will actually be six corners on the roster (seven if you count C.J. Goodwin).
Safety is another spot where I could see one more veteran addition for depth. Our old friend Darian Thompson is a free agent and Damontae Kazee also remains unsigned, meaning either can probably be had for cheap. That would likely cost Bland his spot at CB before hurting either Wilson or Mukuamu. There are also some intriguing developmental prospects like Tyler Coyle from last year's UDFA crop and newly-signed Markquese Bell.
Special Teams (4)
- ST: C.J. Goodwin
- K: Jonathan Garibay
- P: Bryan Anger
- LS: Jake McQuaide
While C.J. Goodwin is officially listed as a cornerback we all know why he's really on the roster. While he's as good as anyone in the league on special teams, Goodwin is now 32 and Dallas could save $1.5 million off the cap if he's released. He will definitely have to fight for this job in July-August against younger and cheaper options.
Unless the Cowboys add a veteran kicker sometime before camp, give me UDFA Jonathan Garibay out of Texas Tech. His college numbers are much better than Chris Naggar's and his 62-yarder last year shows he has range to go with accuracy.
The veterans Anger and McQuaide are roster locks barring injury. Anger got a nice new deal after his Pro Bowl punting in 2021 and McQuaide's consistent work as long snapper was part of that performance as well. If anyone else is brought in this offseason it will be as nothing more than a camp body.