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Jonathan’s Projected 53 Man Roster: Preseason Week 1

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Cowboys Blog - 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.

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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.

Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Can we Believe General Manager Jerry Jones?

Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.

Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.

Cambios de Coach

A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.

A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.

Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?

El Draft

A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.

A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.

En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.

Decisiones difíciles

La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.

Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.

Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.

No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración" 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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Star Blog

Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.

Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.

Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.

Here's why those people are wrong.

Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.

Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).

Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.

There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.

Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.

Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.

Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.

Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.

And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.



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Star Blog

Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?

Brian Martin

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Can Dak Prescott Regain His Mojo Against Atlanta?
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.

It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.

Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.

Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.

Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.

Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:

24 starts
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating

Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:

17 starts
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating

As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.

Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

Now, he just has to go out and prove it!

Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?



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