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Cowboys 53-Man Roster Projection: Early 2021 Camp Edition

We’ve had about 10 days of practices so far in the ’ 2021 Training Camp and the first preseason game is this Thursday night. It seemed a good time to check in on our ever-evolving 53-man roster projection; how have recent events changed the landscape for Dallas?

The last projection came out shortly after the 2021 NFL Draft. Since then we’ve had one major addition in free agent Safety Malik Hooker and a few minor roster moves, plus everything we’ve heard so far out of Oxnard.

So based on all the current information, how do we project the 2021 roster at this time?

Offense Depth Chart (23)

No big changes here since May. We’ve added Sean McKeon as a fourth TE and reduced our OL depth to just eight players. While only eight linemen would be thin in past seasons, the modified rules for players brought about by COVID-19 make it easier to stash guys like , Terence Steele, and Matt Farniok for future use.

There is encouraging talk right now about Steele making big strides since last year. Could it be enough for him to knock the veteran Nsekhe off the roster and be the swing tackle? Perhaps, but not ready to make that call yet.

Dallas kept McKeon on the roster last year to avoid losing him on waivers and, based on reports, he’s only gotten better. With Dalton Schultz a free agent next year I think the Cowboys protect this asset again. He could even make veteran Jeremy Sprinkle expendable, but I think Dallas would keep four TEs since they won’t have a true fullback.

I’m sticking with just two quarterbacks on the roster for now. There’s little reason to worry about losing Rush or DiNucci off the practice squad and, frankly, no great loss if either were to get poached. If Dallas does keep three QBs it will be because they added someone new for more experienced depth.

Defense Depth Chart (26)

It’s really hard to narrow some of these groups down given how many players we have to pick from. Hopefully more practices and preseason games will help clarify matters.

You may be groaning at the sight of Dorance Armstrong’s name but we have no reason to put Bradlee Anae, Ron’Dell Carter, or anyone else above him right now. And with talk that Dallas will be using 3-4 looks in 2021, Armstrong may be the most ideally suited to work out of the in some formations than any other backup.

Then again, if Micah Parsons is going to be rushing the passer then Dallas may not even need a fifth DE this year.

With positive reports on Quinton Bohanna’s early work in camp I think he’ll make it easy to part with . The only thing that might save Watkins now is if Trysten Hill has to start the year on PUP.

With Luke Gifford making a resurgence in reports and Francis Bernard currently injured, that sixth LB spot has become easier to project. But it’s still early and there’s plenty Anthony Hines or Azur Kamara can still do to change that.

Trying to pick these is where things get really complicated. I was very hesitant to leave off the roster but the Cowboys clear $2.5 million in cap space and appear to have plenty of good options to fill the depth chart. Brown’s been a solid player five years but the upside is tapped and he’d be grossly overpaid at the bottom of the chart.

Five safeties is a lot but not when two of them, Kazee and Hooker, have health liabilities. I think Dallas goes long here for extra insurance, to protect Mukuamu from waivers, and to keep Kearse around for special teams.

Special Teams (4)

  • ST: C.J. Goodwin
  • K:
  • P: Bryan Anger
  • LS: Jake McQuaide

I’m not even going to list Goodwin on defense anymore because that’s not at all why he’s here. He’s a pure specialist and one I don’t think is going to allow to be cut given all he does to help those units.

I’ve also flipped Anger and Hunter Niswander at punter. While Zuerlein’s been out injured we’ve seen Niswander being used for field goals. If he was the team’s leading candidate to be the punter in 2021, you’d think they’d be handling that situation differently. It was a surprise that Anger was even brought in given how well Niswander performed last year, but we shouldn’t be shocked now if the proven veteran gets the nod.

What do you think?

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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9 Comments

  1. I believe Cb Anthony Brown is a liability and financial too expensive. I also think the lb/ de Bradley Anae is better than Basham. Also Canady played better than Kevin Joseph so he should start over him.

  2. I just don’t understand by what measure Gifford keeps making this team?! But I hope this is it … either he makes the team and actually contributes, else he is flat-out cut … IMO, not even worth the PS spot unless you’re simply afraid of injuries … I’d rather it go to a better long-term prospect.

  3. I thought Anae was such a steal last year they were worried about getting arrested and now can’t even make the team that’s why fans should pay little to no attention to these articles

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