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Jonathan’s Projected 53 Man Roster: Preseason Week 1

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Jonathan’s Projected 53 Man Roster: Preseason Week 1

As we move through the preseason, DCN staff will present to you their takes on the coming finalization of the Cowboys’ 53 man roster. Today we have Jonathan Day’s projections. Previous staff projections from preseason week one: Mike Harlos.

Offense:

Quarterback
Tony Romo
Brandon Weeden

Tony is the clear no-brainer here.  I am hoping the back-up position is an open battle.  Weeden very well wins by merit of NFL starting QB experience, but I would love to see the young UDFA Dustin Vaughan supplant him from this spot and prove that he could be looked upon as Romo’s eventual replacement, who is the better long-term solution – Weeden – 31 and Vaughan – 23.  Furthermore, given what I saw of Vaughan in his first NFL experience in preseason game 1, I honestly believe he could be worthy of keeping around to develop – he showed elusiveness in the pocket, command of the offense, and threw the ball at all levels with accuracy and zip.   He also has the prototypical size at 6-5 233 lbs.  At West Texas A&M, a division II school, he threw for 5,401 yards and 53 touchdowns in 2013, setting school records.

Wide Receiver
Dez Bryant
Terrance Williams
Cole Beasley
Dwayne Harris
Devin Street
LaRon Byrd

This will be one of the battles to watch throughout preseason.  I don’t see them keeping more than 6 and the only spot that I believe is truly up for grabs is that 6th spot.  Devin Street likely is kept by merit of the fact that he was drafted, but I wouldn’t exactly say his name is written in ink, either.  He has to prove he can contribute on special teams and that could prove to be a hindrance.

Tight End
Jason Witten
Gavin Escobar
James Hanna

Transversely, at tight end, I really don’t see there being much of a battle here.  This, of course, is largely dependent on whether or not they keep a fullback.  I lean towards them keeping at the very least one fullback, which makes the three TEs the Cowboys keep a pretty easy decision, compared to the rest of the battles occurring team-wide.

Running Back
DeMarco Murray
Lance Dunbar
Joseph Randle

Perhaps not as difficult of a decision as the WR quandary, but nevertheless, I have a tough time deciding both who and how many as far as running backs.  My belief is that should DeMarco Murray get injured, which given the fact he has failed to play a full 16 games thus far in his career due to injuries is a real possibility, the plan is to slide either Joseph Randle or Ryan Williams into the starting role and allow Lance Dunbar to continue to be a relief / change of pace back.  Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of Randle, but so far, with his experience in the system, he has the inside track.  Ben Malena, at this point, is likely viewed as practice squad material, regardless of who and how many are kept.

Fullback
Tyler Clutts

For now, Clutts has the inside track on J.C. Copeland.  Clutts has more experience and has a better chance of being a significant contributor on special teams.  But Clutts’ name is by no means written in ink and that final cut will likely be delayed until after the final preseason game.

Tackle
Tyron Smith
Doug Free
Jermey Parnell
Darrion Weems

Smith and Free are solid, but we haven’t had any opportunity to see what the younger guys vying for a spot can do, so for now, I’ll stick with the players who at least know the system.

Guard
Zack Martin
Mackenzy Bernadeau
Ronald Leary
Uche Nwaneri

With the lone exception of the first round pick, once again, experience wins out …for now.

Center
Travis Frederick

Locked. Inked. Clutch. If you want to move him from that spot, bring a wrecking ball…and just in case, bring a spare too!

 

Defense:

Defensive End
DeMarcus Lawrence
George Selvie
Ben Gardner
Anthony Spencer
Jeremy Mincey
Martez Wilson
Tyrone Crawford

Similar to wide receiver, a major battle will occur across the line, which should make the preseason all the more interesting to watch.  Every spot, except for that of Selvie, Lawrence, Crawford and Spencer, is up for grabs.  The aforementioned would really have to underperform in an extremely noticeable way to not make the final 53, but as far as who will be starting, that’s still anybody’s guess.  Considering the Cowboys are planning to send guys in waves, it makes sense to go heavier than conventional wisdom on the defensive line; otherwise, one player sustaining an injury could hamstring the wave (pun intended).   Kenneth Boatright, for now, is on the outside looking in. But he could take Gardner’s or Mincey’s position on the final 53 if he is able to show up in a significant way during preseason.

Defensive Tackle
Henry Melton
Terrell McClain
Davon Coleman
Ken Bishop

Because of Crawford’s flexibility to slide inside, I initially considered only keeping three DTs.  But again, if he or anyone else is injured, Marinelli will likely have to dig into free agency – like last year’s debacle – to duct-tape the line.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see the defense go deep across the board up front.  Nick Hayden is the wildcard; I would like both Coleman and/or Bishop to prove to be an improvement over Hayden, but he could make the final 53 due to having experience in this system.

Linebacker
Rolando McClain
Justin Durant
Bruce Carter
Anthony Hitchens
DeVonte Holloman
Kyle Wilber
Orie Lemon

Many have probably picked Will Smith by merit of being drafted, but Orie Lemon is someone I know can contribute on special teams and, according to reports, he spent the offseason working out with Dez Bryant.  Nevertheless, this is yet another one of those decisions that will be left for after the last preseason game.

Cornerback
Brandon Carr
Orlando Scandrick
Morris Claiborne
Terrance Mitchell

Four corners may seem light, but I don’t see Moore, Patmon, Webb, or Phillips proving to be more significant contributors than the players kept for the sake of going deep in the front seven.   If the Cowboys keep five, likely at the expense of the defensive line, Webb may win. Once again because of his experience in the scheme as well as the fact that he was drafted in the 5th round in 2013.

Safety
Barry Church
J. J. Wilcox
Jakar Hamilton
Ahmad Dixon

A common theme on defense, more so than any year in recent memory, is that pretty much every starting position, with few exceptions, are up for grabs.  Church is written in ink; the rest will have to kick, claw, scratch and bite to start and/or make the final 53.  Again, Preseason is going to be very interesting.   I would not be surprised to see the Cowboys keep more than four safeties given the injury issues that have attacked this position over the last two years. But if they do so, it will be at the expense of the defensive line, which is already one injury away from Marinelli having to dig through the free agent scrap heap.  For me, I would rather see the Cowboys take their chances at safety than the defensive line.

 

Special Teams:

Kicker
Dan Bailey

Punter
Chris Jones

Long Snapper
L.P. Ladouceur

Out of all three, clearly Dan Bailey has the most job security.  Every year the Cowboys try to find a less expensive option at long snapper, but Ladouceur is so money at what he does, replacing him won’t be easy.  The Cowboys’ punter position on the other hand, is as open of a competition as that 6th WR spot; Chris Jones is by no means a lock.

I am 35, married and a father of 2 boys. I have been a Cowboys fan since Jimmy Johnson took over; not because I had anything against Tom Landry, but because it just so happens I was old enough to start following and understanding football right as that new era began. Since then, I haven’t missed games if I could help it.

3 Comments
  • @DCBenmckeith

    There is no chance they only carry 8 DBs. Heath is the ST leader and will get a spot. I’d be surprised if they carry 7 LBs and if they do I don’t see Lemon getting that last spot. They will probably go short at OL. I’d carry 8. Also Weedens spot is not under pressure. If they want Vaughan so badly they don’t want to risk him on PS then they find a spot in 53.

    • Jonathan

      You very well could be right about them carrying more than 8 DB’s, but with Spencer and Lawrence both starting the season on the PUP, they will have to go light somewhere to save room and still maintain a competitive edge upfront while those two get game-ready.

      Weeden spot is not under pressure yet. The question I have at this point is rather or not they keep putting Vaughan out there or if they want to try and sneak him to the practice squad. If they are going the sneaky route, I doubt he get’s too much more time behind center in preseason. I don’t see them keeping 3 QB’s, though, I truly hope I’m wrong. I really liked what we saw of him this past Thursday. He is my new pet cat.

      I can’t see them going light on the offensive line for the simple fact that they are likely basing their belief in success this year on what the offense is able to accomplish and it all start with that offensive line. But if you are right and they do go light, Weems would be my vote today as the odd-man out.

  • Jonathan

    Chris Jones very well many now be locked in with the recent release of his competition (which occurred after this was submitted)…but I’m really not sure why.

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