Getting all of your draft picks onto the 53-man roster can be a challenge any season. For the 2021 Dallas Cowboys, this seemed especially difficult as they had 11 drafted rookies in training camp. But all of them survived final cuts yesterday and, at least for now, have a spot on the official roster.
We say “for now” because several changes could still be coming today and tomorrow as the Cowboys have many moving parts. With five starters or key roleplayers currently on the COVID-19 list and not counting against the 53, that's five roster spots that will be going away as those players are confirmed healthy in the coming days.
However, not all of those returning players will cost someone a job. Dallas also has several guys they intend to move to injured reserve, who under the new rules could all be eligible to return after serving a 3-week minimum.
Even with this issue coming, most of the draft class seems pretty safe. It's pretty rare for even 3rd-Round picks to not make the roster in their rookie year and certainly DT Osa Odiighizuwa and CB Nahshon Wright have earned further consideration. Odighizuwa may very well be a starter for the first three weeks or more.
Defensive End Chauncey Golston surprisingly came off the PUP list yesterday after passing a physical and will now be on the 53-man roster. He likely won't play for a while after missing all of camp and preseason but the 3rd-rounder will at least be able to jump in whenever the coaches think he's ready.
It gets a little more dicey for 4th-round picks but LB Jabril Cox ain't going anywhere after being one of the team's best performers in preseason. We don't know what OT Josh Ball has to offer yet as he's been injured and is one of the guys expected to go to IR in the next day or two.
Hopefully the math will work out to nobody's expense. But for late-round picks like DT Quinton Bohanna, S Israel Mukuamu, and G Matt Farniok, they can't help but be anxious as things get finalized.
Bohanna should be safe as injuries have hit the defensive tackle position. Neville Gallimore is one of the guys expected to go to IR and Trysten Hill is starting the year on PUP. That leaves Bohanna as one of just four DTs on the roster for Week One.
Safety Israel Mukuamu may be okay for now but he would be the fifth safety after Damontae Kazee, Donovan Wilson, Malik Hooker, and Jayron Kearse. If the Cowboys have to make a cut to facilitate Kazee and other guys coming off the COVID list, the 6th-round rookie is one of the likeliest options.
The same goes for Matt Farniok on the offensive line. He's the 10th lineman (not counting Josh Ball) and the team could easily go with nine if they need a roster spot. However, given their issues at backup center, I could see Dallas parting with Brandon Knight or Terence Steele before Farniok.
Even WR Simi Fehoko shouldn't feel entirely safe. The 5th-round pick is the sixth man on that depth chart and ultimately expendable. However, Dallas would likely lose him to waivers and his real value comes in 2022 when Michael Gallup, Cedrick Wilson, and Noah Brown all hit free agency.
It is worth noting that a few of the players cut yesterday are expected to be re-signed once spots open up. One of them for certain is veteran Long Snapper Jack McQuaide and another may be Tight End Jeremy Sprinkle, who will probably return once Sean McKeon moves to IR.
My gut feeling right now is that everyone from Micah Parsons to Quinton Bohanna from the 2021 class is safe. Israel Mukuamu and Matt Farniok are the only ones I think could be hurt by these impending moves, and that has less to do with where they were drafted than just the numbers and other options at their positions.
We should know very soon just how many of these rookies will actually be on the roster when the Cowboys meet the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week One.