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Cowboys’ Defense: Pre-Training Camp 53-Man Roster Prediction

Brian Martin

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Cowboys' Defense: Pre-Training Camp 53-Man Roster Prediction

Unfortunately, this is the time of year where things are really slow in the NFL, which is why I thought it would be the perfect time to share with all you my pre-training camp 53-man roster prediction for the Dallas Cowboys. Yesterday I shared with you my predictions for the Cowboys' offense and also included the specialist, so today I will turn my attention to the defensive side of the ball.

How the Cowboys' defense performs in 2017 will go a long way with determining the amount of success they will have. That is why nearly all eyes will be on nearly every single defensive player in training camp and how they perform once the pads come on. This is especially true for incoming rookies who might be playing a large role on defense.

Continue reading to see my roster predictions for the Dallas Cowboys defense in 2017.

Defensive End (5)

DeMarcus Lawrence, Benson Mayowa, Charles Tapper, Taco Charlton, Damontre Moore

Benson Mayowa

Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys are fortunate enough to have some versatility in their defensive lineman, which means there are a number of different ways they can go about addressing the defensive end position. I decided to go with five DEs right now, especially considering Lawrence and Mayowa are really the only players that have proven themselves in the NFL.

I think second year DE Charles Tapper and rookie Taco Charlton are locks to make the team, but it's been journeyman Damontre Moore who has been the talk of the off-season. If he can continue to impress, he is the fifth DE and possible starter in 2017. Of course, the numbers the Cowboys decide to go with at this position could be impacted by what they do at defensive tackle.

Defensive Tackle (5)

Maliek Collins, Cedric Thornton, Tyrone Crawford, Stephen Paea, David Irving

Maliek CollinsLike the defensive end position, I think the Cowboys go with five defensive tackles on their final 53-man roster in 2017. I think Tyrone Crawford moves back to DT, which is probably his better position. Both he and Maliek Collins will likely be in a rotation at the 3-tech, but the 1-tech seems to be up for grabs still.

Cedric Thornton and Stephen Paea are in competition against one another to be the starting 1-tech, but with the way Marinelli rotates his defensive line it doesn't really matter who is named starter. Surprisingly enough, I went ahead and put David Irving down as my fifth DT, even though he is facing a suspension. There are rumors though that he could possibly get it overturned.

Linebacker (6)

Sean Lee, Anthony Hitchens, Damien Wilson, Jaylon Smith, Kyle Wilber, Mark Nzeocha

Sean Lee and Jaylon SmithThe Dallas Cowboys carried seven linebackers on their 53-man roster in 2016, and could do so once again this season. This is especially true if Jaylon Smith shows any signs of struggling once the pads come on in training camp. But, right now I have them only carrying six LBs.

I think Sean Lee, Anthony Hitchens, and Damien Wilson will likely be the starters when the 2017 season kicks off. However, the Cowboys will likely try to get a rotation going with Smith if he is indeed ready. The rest of the LBs are needed for depth and let's not forget fullback Keith Smith could be used at LB in an emergency situation.

I wouldn't be surprised if the scouting department looks long and hard around the league for depth/upgrades at the position. Daryl Washington maybe?

Cornerback (6)

Orlando Scandrick, Anthony Brown, Nolan Carroll, Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Marquez White

Anthony BrownThe cornerback position is probably the one position that will be watched the closest throughout training camp, because it is the one that has probably been overhauled the most. Because of the influx of youth and the uncertainty at the position, I decided to go with six CBs. I did this because I think Chidobe Awuzie could be used in a variety of different positions, which means depth could be important at the position throughout the season.

I think Scandrick and Brown are the likely starters, with Carroll and rookie Awuzie competing for the other starting CB position. But, Awuzie could possibly be in play at safety as well. Of course, nothing is written in ink as of yet, which means Lewis could possibly give Scandrick a run for his money to be the Cowboys slot CB.

Safety (4)

Byron Jones, Jeff Heath, Kavon Frazier, Xavier Woods

Jeff HeathI personally don't think the Dallas Cowboys will carry more than four safeties on their final 53-man roster in 2017. I think Byron Jones, Jeff Heath, Kavon Frazier, and Xavier Woods and pretty much already solidified themselves a roster spot, but that could change once pads come on in training camp.

I know the Cowboys signed Robert Blanton this off-season, but I think that had more to do with making sure they were covered in case they didn't draft a safety. I have a hard time seeing him outplaying some of these young players, but he will get his chance. And again, Chidobe Awuzie could be in play at safety as well, further making Blanton's chances to make the team a long shot.

✭✭✭✭✭

Well, there you have it. That completes my Dallas Cowboys pre-training camp 53-man roster prediction for 2017. I have them devoting 26 roster spots on defense, 24 on offense, and three to the specialist. It's doubtful the Cowboys 53-man roster will look exactly like my prediction, but this is just the way I would personally go.

Let me know what you would do differently in the comment section below



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. I'm Okay w La'el @ RT

    June 22, 2017 at 7:32 am

    I haven’t heard a lot about how White looked @ safety in OTA & Mini-camp. Any info on him?

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      June 22, 2017 at 10:49 am

      I assume you’re talking about either the Cowboys rookie CB White or their rookie S Woods. I’m not sure which. There hasn’t been much news about either one, which could be a good or bad thing. I think we’re just going to have to wait until training camp to see how everybody performs once the pads come on.

  2. Assassin

    June 22, 2017 at 11:39 am

    I noticed you’re not expecting the DTs from bottom of the draft class to make the cut:

    Round 7, Pick 10 (No. 228) Joey Ivie, DT, Florida
    Round 7, Pick 28 (No. 246) Jordan Carrell, DT, Colorado

    Rd 7 is always a crapshoot. Any hope for these two?

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      June 22, 2017 at 11:45 am

      I think their best bet to make the 53-man roster is if David Irving is suspended to start the year. Otherwise, I have a hard time seeing them beat out any of the other Cowboys DTs. I think stashing one, possibly both of these rookie DTs on the practice squad is the most likely scenario.

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Star Blog

2018 In Review: Byron Jones Emerges As CB1

Kevin Brady

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Byron Jones

Heading into the 2018 season Byron Jones was being asked to prove himself. The former first round pick had fallen out of the coaches' good graces during his third season, though many of his struggles could be attributed to those very coaches which were then questioning his ability.

Being asked to play out of position, or at least in a spot which did not maximize his natural ability, Jones struggled in 2017. Too often he was playing in the box as a safety where his lack of physicality was exposed by the opponent's run game. This was mostly due to the coaching staff falling in love with his tight-end-erasing ability in man coverage, but backfired when overused as a safety.

Once hired the following offseason, Kris Richard and company decided to move Byron Jones to cornerback full time, allowing him to utilize his excellent coverage skills and athletic ability to the fullest, rather than putting him at a disadvantage in the box.

The results? Well, Jones had one of the best seasons of any cornerback in football, earning All Pro and Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his young career.

Pro Football Focus on Twitter

Byron Jones had a dominant season for Dallas

Pro Football Focus graded Jones as the sixth best cornerback in all of football last season, allowing just 0.79 yards per coverage snap. Despite not having an interception on the season, Jones still earned national recognition as one of the best cornerbacks in the entire league.

Down the stretch of the season, Chidobe Awuzie started to play up to the level which fans had hoped for during the preseason. He had been sticky in coverage most of the year, but now he was making plays on the ball at a much better rate, forcing incompletions. This led to an increase in targets to Jones' side, and though the increase resulted in more catches given up by the number one cornerback, I don't think Jones' play faltered as much as some will have you believe.

The fact is, when you get targeted more you are bound to give up more catches and yards. The key is to force them into contested catches, and make things as difficult for the receiver as possible when targeted.

Byron Jones continued to do this all season long, and fans should be excited for the next step of his growth in 2019.



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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Time to Stop Making Excuses for QB Dak Prescott?

Por muchos años, el tema del tope salarial ha sido un tema sensible para los Dallas Cowboys. Entre dinero muerto y otros problemas, el equipo ha tenido una situación delicada en este aspecto. Sin embargo, para la temporada del 2019 tienen más espacio de lo que estamos acostumbrados.

Según Over The Cap, los Cowboys tendrán aproximadamente 48 millones de dólares disponibles en 2019. Es importante recalcar que este número no es definitivo y puede cambiar. Año tras año, esta administración ha sido aficionada de reestructurar los contratos de ciertos veteranos para liberar espacio salarial constantemente. Además de esto, hay varios jugadores bajo contrato que el equipo podría decidir cortar para liberar aún más dinero.

Al ver sólo 48 millones disponibles, es complicado imaginar un escenario en que el equipo logre satisfacer todos sus objetivos. Hay bastantes candidatos a grandes extensiones en el equipo, principalmente dos jugadores. En una liga en la que quarterback es la posición más importante, la segunda más importante podría ser la del caza cabezas, cuyo objetivo es ir tras el quarterback contrario.

DeMarcus Lawrence, Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Pues en Dallas, hoy dos  jugadores en estas posiciones que hay que extender. El más urgente sin duda es el defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. Lawrence se puso el jersey del equipo cuando este lo designó a jugar bajo la etiqueta franquicia. Afortunadamente, el atleta de 26 años la hizo de soldado y jugó sin amenazar con faltar a entrenamientos ni pretemporada.

Lo que sí comentó es que no pasaría por lo mismo en 2019. Ahora, el momento está aquí y es tiempo de que los Cowboys lo extiendan. El valor de Lawrence es difícil de predecir, pero es bastante seguro que se acercará a los números de Khalil Mack. Mack hizo historia ganando un contrato que en promedio gana 23.5 millones al año. Si bien no anticiparía que lo supere, la cifra estará cerca al contrato del defensivo de los Chicago Bears.

Además está Dak Prescott, cuyo contrato probablemente estará por encima de los 25 millones anuales. Son contratos caros, pero son piezas fundamentales para el equipo. Definitivamente se les tiene que pagar a ambos. Son pilares que año tras año buscan equipos en toda la NFL.

Además de esto, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, Cole Beasley y más podrían tener un impacto en el tope salarial. Algunos buscan un contrato nuevo, otros una extensión. Pero honestamente, me parece que habrá más espacio en el tope salarial de lo que pensamos. Sólo es cuestión de tiempo para que los Cowboys comiencen a reestructurar a sus veteranos para ahorrarse unos cuantos millones para utilizar en agencia libre.

Tyron Smith, Tyrone Crawford entre otros pueden ser buenas opciones para comenzar este proceso. Antes era Jason Witten uno de los candidatos favoritos para este proceso, pero él ya se encuentra comentando partidos para ESPN. En Inside The Star, continuaremos actualizándote con contenido al día de los Dallas Cowboys.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?

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Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason? 2

Super Bowl LIII is in the books, and the Dallas Cowboys can look back on a better-than-expected 2018 campaign. Having won the NFC East with a 10-6 record and bowing out to eventual finalists Los Angeles Rams, the Cowboys' young team can look ahead to 2019 as a chance to take another step forward.

The offseason is now upon us, with the NFL free agency period opening in the middle of March and the NFL Draft coming around at the end of April. Until those times, experts, pundits, and fans are left to assess their teams and predict their activities in the running to the start of next season.

The Dallas Cowboys are in a precarious position, with the team exceeding expectations, still being very young and having plenty of cap space, but also having many top-end players set to become free agents and being without a first-round pick in this year’s draft. There does, however, appear to be a way for the team to make improvements and solidify their place atop the NFC East and potentially go on to win in the Conference Finals.

Lock Down the Big Guns

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?

@Randy81MossRetires, via Twitter

Many see DeMarcus Lawrence as the top potential free agent this spring, so the Dallas Cowboys need to do everything in their power to lock down the 26-year-old defensive end.

Vice President Stephen Jones has emphasized the team’s target of retaining their own stars, per Star-Telegram, with Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and perhaps Byron Jones being in the discussion for long-term deals.

As it stands, the team will have roughly $48.5 million in cap space for next season, which leaves plenty of space to re-sign their top players. They look set to let go of Tavon Austin, David Irving, and quite possibly Cole Beasley, among others, leaving a need to add reinforcements.

Adding New Talent

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason? 1

@brkicks, via Twitter

One of the most heavily rumored moves for Dallas in this free agency is picking up native Texan and former Legion of Boom linchpin Earl Thomas, per Forbes.

Against the Rams in the playoffs and throughout the season, the Cowboys lacked a defenseman who could make plays on the pass. Thomas is one of the notorious ball hawks in the league, boasting 28 career interceptions, three of which came in just four games of last season.

If the Cowboys can re-sign their stars while keeping some space for an Earl Thomas-sized contract, which clocked in at $10.4 million in 2018 for the Seattle Seahawks, their odds of going all the way next season will significantly increase.

Right now, the expected names of the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs lead the odds to win the next Super Bowl at +750. Behind them, the Rams sit at +900 having suffered a suffocating defeat in this year’s Super Bowl. Much further down are the Cowboys at +2500 right now with redbet. If they re-sign Lawrence, pay their young stars, and bring in Thomas, they’ll shoot up the table of favorites.

Then, there’s also the additions in the draft to consider.

The Cowboys may be without a first-round selection, but that may end up working in their favor. Round one of the 2019 NFL Draft is set to be laden with defensive selections according to most mock drafts, with a few quarterbacks sprinkled around and a minimal selection of offensive weapons. If the Cowboys re-sign Lawrence, they’ll be looking good at defensive end, so should then turn to giving Prescott another weapon in the passing game, which will also help to keep defenses honest and give Elliott more room to operate.

As stated, the NFL is a passing league, and Prescott exploded once he was given a viable option in Amari Cooper. Michael Gallup is expected to take another step forward next season, but just in case, the Cowboys can add another strong receiving option in the draft thanks to the strength of the defensive class. A.J. Brown of Ole Miss will almost certainly go in the first round, but exciting talents in D.K. Metcalf, Parris Campbell, Marquise Brown, and Deebo Samuel could all still be available when Dallas rings in during the second round.

Improving Dallas' pass options and pass defense will go a long way toward improving the team and allowing them to push on to a bigger and better campaign in 2019.



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