The Dallas Cowboys completely dominated the Houston Texans Saturday night in their “dress rehearsal” preseason game. With state pride on the line, Dallas handled their business and looked quite impressive doing so. With Week 3 of the preseason now over, the shift now turns to shaping the 53-man roster, which is what I will attempt to predict today.
With so much talent throughout the Dallas Cowboys roster this was no easy task to take on. I don't envy the tough decisions the Cowboys brass will have to make here shortly. But regardless of how this turns out this should be a better team than they fielded just a season ago. Without further ado, here is my final 53-man roster prediction for America's Team in 2019.
Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush
Practice Squad: Mike White and Taryn Christion
Dak Prescott and Cooper Rush are the only quarterbacks on the Dallas Cowboys roster worthy of making the final 53-man roster. Rush clearly outplayed Mike White to become the Cowboys QB2, but don't be surprised if Dallas looks to add a veteran if one happens to become available after roster cuts. As for White, if he clears waivers expect to see him brought back and added to the practice squad to further develop/season.
Running Back (4)
Practice Squad: Mike Weber
I toyed with the idea of just carrying two traditional running backs (Zeke and Pollard) on the Cowboys 53-man roster because I believe Randall Cobb, Tavon Austin, and even Olawale can all fill in the backfield if needed. But, I think second-year RB Jordan Chunn has earned the right to stick to the roster due to his play on both offense and special teams. I think he is Dallas' new “Rod Smith” so to speak. I think he will fit in well as the RB3 and as a core special teamer.
Wide Receiver (6)
Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Randall Cobb, Tavon Austin, Devin Smith, Cedrick Wilson
Practice Squad: Jon'Vea Johnson
It will be interesting to see how many wide receivers the Dallas Cowboys choose to carry on the 53-man roster. Right now I have them carrying six, and I have the top four pretty much set in stone. That leaves two roster spots up for grabs. I think Devin Smith has played well enough to make the cut and with Noah Brown likely to start the season on the PUP list, I'll go with Cedrick Wilson as the WR6 because of his versatility to play on the outside or in the slot and his special teams value.
Tight End (3)
Practice Squad: Codey McElroy
The tight end position for the Dallas Cowboys is pretty much set in stone. The only thing that could shake things up is if Dalton Schultz somehow lands on injured reserve (IR) to start the season due to his current ankle injury. If that's the case Marcus Lucas (No. 80) could be the TE3 instead. He's done some good things in preseason. Codey McElroy still needs time to develop, but he's flashed enough talent to stick around on the practice squad.
Offensive Tackle (3)
Tyron Smith, La'el Collins, Cameron Fleming
Practice Squad: Jake Campos and Brandon Knight
I don't think there are any surprises here. Tyron Smith and La'el Collins are the Dallas Cowboys starting tackles and Cameron Fleming should once again reprise his role as the swing tackle. Keeping these three on the 53-man roster is a no-brainer, but who to try to bring back to the practice squad isn't as clear-cut. Jake Campos, Brandon Knight, and Mitch Hyatt are all potential candidates, but it's Campos and Knight who are more deserving to be brought back, despite the name recognition Hyatt carries.
Offensive Guard (3)
Zack Martin, Connor Williams, Adam Redmond
If the Dallas Cowboys were going to go a little deeper at any position along the offensive line it would likely be at guard. I have Martin and Williams as the only roster locks with Connor McGovern, Xavier Su'a-Filo, and Adam Redmond all in the running to make the team. I think McGovern could be a candidate to be placed on IR and I went with Redmond over Su'a-Filo due to his versatility to play any interior OL position. Xavier could possibly be a tradable asset for a team looking for an experienced lineman.
Travis Frederick, Joe Looney
Joe Looney will once again have to accept a backup role with the Dallas Cowboys after starting every single game for them in 2018 now that Travis Frederick has triumphantly returned after battling an autoimmune disease last year. The only way this doesn't happen is if the Cowboys receive a trade offer for Looney they can't refuse, which is one of the reasons I kept Adam Redmond over Xavier Su'a-Filo earlier.
Defensive Tackle (5)
Practice Squad: Ricky Walker
The Dallas Cowboys will probably only carry four DTs on their 53-man roster, but I think it would be wise if they start planning for the future now. With Maliek Collins in the last year of his rookie contract and with someone like Tyrone Crawford nearing the end of his deal, the Cowboys need to think about the depth at the DT position beyond this year. That's why I would go ahead and try to keep Daniel Wise. He may be hard to sneak through waivers and his versatility to play DT or DE is something Dallas values in their DL.
Defensive End (6)
Practice Squad: Jalen Jelks
I'm not sure the Dallas Cowboys don't have a defensive end not worthy of making the final 53-man roster right now. DeMarcus Lawrence and Dorance Armstrong pretty much have the RDE side covered and at LDE Dallas has Tyrone Crawford and Taco Charlton right now until Robert Quinn and Randy Gregory return from their suspensions. And don't forget about Kerry Hyder, who like Crawford can play DE or DT. That's not even mentioning Joe Jackson and Jalen Jelks, who are both playing better-than-expected as rookies. Tough decisions will have to be made, but that's a good problem to have.
Practice Squad: Chris Covington
I don't think anyone would argue the top four spots at the linebacker position are locked down. The final two though are up for grabs. Veteran LB Justin March-Lillard has managed to stick around for a few years now, but undrafted rookies Luke Gifford and Justin Phillips could change that. Gifford played well enough pre-injury to stick around and Phillips is playing just as well if not better than March-Lillard these last couple of games. I could see how the Cowboys could decide to keep Chris Covington over Phillips though, even though the latter has played better.
Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, Jourdan Lewis, Donovan Olumba, C.J. Goodwin
The Dallas Cowboys top four CBs are set in stone, but the depth behind them is unproven. I think both Mike Jackson and Donovan Olumba have shown flashes of their potential and have the size/length Kris Richard wants in his DBs, but I think I'd place Jackson on IR, which would unfortunately end his rookie season. He's just not ready and needs some seasoning. But that means Dallas can carry C.J. Goodwin, who just so happens to be their best special teams player. I have no doubts he will be their special teams ace, which is an undervalued role in my opinion.
Xavier Woods, Jeff Heath, Donovan Wilson, Darian Thompson
Since the Dallas Cowboys didn't do much to upgrade the safety position through the draft or free agency it looks as if Xavier Woods and Jeff Heath will reprise their roles as the starters in 2019, at least at the beginning of the season. Rookie Safety Donovan Wilson has been playing well and could eventually surpass No. 38 at some point in the season though. I think Darian Thompson is Dallas' fourth safety, but they'll more than likely look for an upgrade when roster cuts are made.
Special Teams (3)
Kasey Redfern, Brett Maher, L.P. Ladouceur
Could this be the second year in a row a “camp leg” comes in and beats out a veteran special teams player? I think it's a very real possibility, and no I'm not talking about Kicker Brett Maher. I can realistically see the Cowboys keeping Kasey Redfern over Punter Chris Jones. Redfern is not only the cheaper option, but he's also punting just as well as Jones this offseason. He also brings the added value of being able to fill in as the placekicker if something were to happen to Maher or if he's struggling, which is good insurance to have.