Unfortunately, this is the slow time of year in the NFL. Teams have finished up their organized team activities (OTA's) and minicamp practices, and now are in limbo until everyone reports to training camp. With things so slow news wise, I thought it would be a good idea to share with all of you my pre-training camp 53-man roster prediction, starting with the offensive side of the ball.
I understand it's still way too early to make such predictions, especially since we haven't seen some of these players in pads yet. But, we should all still have a pretty good understanding about which positions are pretty much locked down and which ones are still up for grabs.
Dak Prescott, Kellen Moore
It is really starting to look as if the Dallas Cowboys will only carry two quarterbacks on their 53-man roster in 2017. This is somewhat surprising considering they have carried three in the Jason Garrett head-coaching era, but it does free up an extra roster spot for depth at another position.
Dak Prescott is looking to build upon his impressive rookie season and I personally don't see any reason why he shouldn't. The coaching staff also seems to be comfortable with Kellen Moore as a backup, but scouts will continue to keep an eye out for potential upgrades. Who knows? Maybe they have the recently retired Tony Romo on speed dial just in case.
Running Back/Fullback (4)
Ezekiel Elliott, Darren McFadden, Keith Smith, Rod Smith
As things stand right now, I have the Dallas Cowboys caring four running backs on their 53-man roster. But, I only have Ezekiel Elliott, Darren McFadden, and Keith Smith down as virtual locks. I think the fourth spot is still up in the air.
I have Rod Smith making the team right now because of his versatility to play fullback, tailback, and special teams. Because of his ability to contribute in several different areas, I think the Cowboys keep him over Alfred Morris. But, I think scouts will be on the lookout for another RB who could possibly be an upgrade.
Wide Receiver (6)
It wouldn't surprise me at all if the Dallas Cowboys decided to just carry five wide receivers on their 53-man roster, but I decided to go little long here. I think Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, and Ryan Switzer are the only names written down in ink, leaving the fifth and possibly sixth spots up for grabs.
Brice Butler isn't guaranteed anything, but he has been receiving some high praise this off-season because of his play on the field. Noah Brown is going to have to clearly outplay Butler, but he can also contribute more in several different ways. Brown plays special-teams, wide receiver, and could be used in the role of a H-back/TE because of his blocking ability. For now, I have both of them making it.
Tight End (3)
Jason Witten, Geoff Swaim, James Hanna
I went with just three tight ends for now, but that could change depending on Geoff Swaim and James Hanna's ability to come back from their injuries. I know I'm going to be heavily scrutinized for not including fan favorite Rico Gathers, but he still needs time in his development before he can be trusted.
This position is impacted by the fact I carried an extra WR, but like I mentioned earlier, I think Noah Brown is capable of filling in if needed. However, the Cowboys may decide to keep Gathers, especially after the time they invested in him. If Swaim or Hanna don't return to their old selves, I have Gathers as the third TE.
Offensive Line (9)
Three out of the five starting offensive lineman are set in stone, and possibly the fourth if La'el Collins sticks at right tackle. But, I still decided to go with nine offensive lineman because the left guard position is still up in the air and the fact that Chaz Green and Jonathan Cooper can't seem remain healthy.
Collins is going to start at either right tackle or left guard, but who the fifth starting offensive lineman is remains up in the air. Cooper, Green, Looney, and Bell are all competing for the LG spot, but none of them really inspire any confidence. The scouting department will be looking long and hard at adding another starting caliber LG or RT, but I think they still go with nine OL because of all of the uncertainties.
Dan Bailey, Chris Jones, L.P. Ladouceur
If only all of the positions were as easy to predict as the specialist are for the Dallas Cowboys. This is the one and only position that has any stability and the only one that doesn't require any guesswork. All three of these players are a lock to make the final 53-man roster.
If you're counting, that's 27 out of the 53 roster spots on the offensive side of the ball, including the three specialist. That leaves 26 available roster spots to devote to the defensive side of the ball for the Cowboys. Tune in tomorrow to see who I predicted to fill those final 26 spots on defense.
Do you agree or disagree with my 53-man roster predictions so far?
Dak Prescott Impresses, Draws Compliments All Minicamp Long
Dak Prescott stood before the media Thursday in a Stetson Cowboy hat, answering questions about his upcoming contract extension.
“I’ve got my cowboy hat on, so I’m a Cowboy, we’ll say that.”
Prescott has cemented himself as the franchise quarterback of America's Team, and now it's time for the franchise to pay him like it. Set to earn roughly $34 million per year (according to recent rumors/reports), Prescott is going to be a very rich and comfortable man in the near future.
But, for now, he still plays under his fourth round rookie contract. You wouldn't be able to tell by watching him on the field, however. Though it was just minicamp, Prescott was impressive as ever over the last couple weeks of practice, earning praise from all levels within the organization.
Veteran Jason Witten complimented both Prescott's anticipation and accuracy, saying his throws have been "off the charts" at minicamp. Prescott himself said that this is the best he's felt since he's entered the league, and it certainly makes sense for this to be the case.
"Is it three years under my belt or just seeing defenses a whole lot more clear, being quicker and faster in everything I want to do, having great teammates around me? Who really knows the answer, but I feel great. I feel confident, and my teammates do, as well.” - Prescott to DallasCowboys.com
If Prescott was ever going to be comfortable, hungry, and ready to go, this is likely the time that it would happen. He has three relatively successful seasons under his belt, and ended 2018 on the best stretch of his career. He is the unquestioned starting quarterback for this team, and has the backing of every key decision maker in the building.
Prescott now has an offensive coordinator who he has not only worked closely with (in some capacity) since he entered the league in 2016, but is also being lauded for his creativity as an offensive mastermind. His quarterbacks coach, Jon Kitna, has been receiving similar praise for how he can coach up Prescott and get his footwork consistent, to help him "throw it through a Fruit Loop."
The time is now for Dak Prescott, and it's encouraging to see how he is responding to this increased pressure and responsibility. Then again we should have no doubt that he will respond positively, as he as throughout his entire young career.
Whenever faced with adversity, Prescott has answered the bell. Now he has all the supporters he needs, and just needs to prove them right.
Does RB Ezekiel Elliott Have A Chance At NFL MVP?
Who is the Cowboys best player?
As a running back, it's quite possible that Elliott is both the best of that bunch and the least important to the team's overall success. NFL.com's Adam Schein disagrees with the latter statement, however, placing Ezekiel Elliott among his top ten contenders for 2019 NFL MVP.
"I think the Cowboys are going to challenge for the Super Bowl in 2019 -- and I think Zeke fuels this team. When Elliott runs for 95-plus yards, the Cowboys are 19-4; when he falls below that benchmark, they're 9-8." - Adam Schein
Schein's prediction will no doubt make Cowboys Nation swoon, but does Elliott really have the opportunity to compete for an MVP award?
For one, this would require the Cowboys be among the best teams in the league this season. It's quite possible, as they did win 10 regular season and 1 playoff game a year ago, but it will have to happen once again for Elliott to be considered.
Next, Ezekiel Elliott would have to put up incredible numbers. Well, it's safe to assume this will likely be the case if condition one is met. Elliott is going to get a lot of opportunities to touch the ball each game, and finding himself among the league's rushing leaders has never been an issue for the young running back. Especially if the team has a lead and is running the ball to kill clock.
Even if both these conditions prove true, though, Elliott will still have trouble getting himself in the real MVP discussion. These awards tend to go to certain positions, and running back is not among that list. If Dallas has such a successful 2019, and their offense is clicking, it's more likely Dak Prescott will be the one contending for that MVP honor.
I know to some it sounds crazy, but Prescott will likely need to be closer to MVP level than Elliott if the Cowboys are to contend in the way Adam Schein suggests in his article.
So, likely, Schein should have named Prescott among his top ten MVP contenders, not Elliott.
Amari Cooper Says He’s Focused On Football, Not His Next Contract
It seems like all anyone has talked about this offseason is who the Cowboys should re-sign, and how they can go about doing so.
Wide receiver Amari Cooper, of course, is heavily involved in those conversations. The Cowboys used their 2019 first round pick to trade for the Pro Bowl wide out last season, and Cooper's emergence helped to turn their struggling offense around immediately.
In just 9 games with the Cowboys last season, he caught 53 passes for 725 yards and 6 touchdowns. He quickly gained the trust of quarterback Dak Prescott, and exhibited a chemistry with the young passer that no one else really has to this point. Outside of maybe Cole Beasley in 2016, perhaps.
While the football world seems to be focusing on what Amari Cooper's contract will look like after 2019, the receiver himself claims to be solely focused on the upcoming season. Cooper spoke with ESPN's Todd Archer about this very subject, emphasizing where his mind lies at this time.
"I just handle my business...I'm more anxious about camp and actually playing football." - Amari Cooper.
Amari Cooper has just one year left on his contract as he plays under the fifth year option from his rookie deal. Cooper will make $13.9 million this season, putting him behind some of the league's other WR1s like Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, and DeAndre Hopkins.
There had been speculation around whether any of the Cowboys left with just one year on their contract would hold-out through parts of offseason activity, but Cooper alluded that it never seemed to cross his mind.
"I just want to get better and I love football. That's why I'm here" - Cooper.
Of course, Amari Cooper will play a huge role in the Cowboys offense in 2019. Combining him with a second year version of Michael Gallup, and new versatile threats like Tony Pollard and Randall Cobb, will help make the Dallas passing game as multiple as it's been in years.
The Cowboys will eventually need to get Amari Cooper locked up long term, but for the time being it seems like both he and the franchise are more focused on what will happen on the field in 2019 than in the negotiating room next Spring.
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