After cutting Cody Mandell and trading Ben Bass to the Patriots for Justin Green, Paul has updated his first preseason projected 53 man roster. Check out his picks for the defensive line. And in case you've missed it, this series of staff projections is a weekly deal during the preseason, so check out the other staff projections out already: Mike Harlos, Jonathan Day, Christopher Mak.
Defense (28 players)
Safety - 4
To me, Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox are the only locks of this unit. Jakar Hamilton has seemed to impress the coaching staff and guys like Bryan Broaddus all off-season, so I think he makes it but he’s been hurt. Maybe Dallas tries to sneak him on the PS to start the year. This could be where the Scandrick deal really bites them in the ass. Jeff Heath provides depth and gained a lot of experience by being thrown to the wolves last year. Also a solid special teams member. Ahmad Dixon is kind of my pet cat. Brings a ton of attitude to defense and special teams, which is badly needed.
Cornerback - 6
With the four-game suspension for Scandrick, I think the Cowboys are forced to keep six corners. I think it’s too early to give up Webb at this point, but man does he ever need to get it rolling. I believe that last spot comes down to Webb, Tyler Patmon, and the newly acquired Justin Green.
Outside Linebacker – 4
Again, pretty simple to me. Carter, Holloman, and Wilber are all locks. And Will Smith is a 6th round pick that will help enough on special teams to stick. Wilber will also be used a lot as a nickel rusher, so kind of a two-for-one deal.
Inside Linebacker – 3
All locks. The biggest question is who wins the starting role. According to camp reports both McClain and Durant are off to hot starts. One of those two guys will not be here next year so this will be an excellent year for Hitchens to relax and learn from Sean Lee while getting in on special teams action. Camp reports also have him looking good at OLB.
Defensive Line - 11
Henry Melton DT
Nick Hayden DT
Terrell McClain DT
Davon Coleman DT
DeMarcus Lawrence DE
George Selvie DE
Jeremy Mincey DE
Tyrone Crawford DE/DT
Ken Boatright DE
Ken Bishop DT
Anthony Spencer DE
11 D-lineman is a big number but I’ll try to explain.
Defensive Tackles: Of course Melton is a lock. And say what you want about the Golden Cock Nick Hayden, but the coaching staff loves him. Terrell McClain provides too much depth and position flex to let go. If you aren’t familiar with Davon Coleman then you need to be. I think we have our next UDFA future super star here.
Defensive End: Originally I had Spencer starting the season on PUP. But recent reports seem to show that the Cowboys front office think he will be ready to roll by week 2 at the latest. The plan for the d-line is to attack in waves, which is the reason for keeping so many guys. I decided to keep Boatright over Ben Gardner simply because I think Gardner could slip through to the practice squad considering his injury, and that we haven’t seen him play at all.
Offense (25 Players)
Quarterback – 2
I seriously considered keeping Caleb Hanie as a 3rd QB simply because of the uncertainty of Romo’s back. But I just couldn’t justify cutting from another position group.
Running Back/Full Back – 4
Murray and Dunbar are the only locks. And boy is it going to be fun to watch the battle between Ryan Williams and Joseph Randle. I just can’t possibly see them keeping 4. I could see them trading Williams much like they did Donte Rosario last year after the 53 was finalized. Neither of the FBs on the roster have really impressed but Clutts, by all accounts, has been the better of the two.
Again, pretty simple. One of the young UDFAs would have to come on strong to steal a roster spot because all five of the WRs listed are locks. They will have to force them to keep six. Keep an eye on Chris Boyd for that.
Tight End – 3
Because that’s all we’ve got. Literally. None of the other TEs stand a chance. If they keep four, it’s going to be a blocking TE from another team’s cuts.
Pretty solid group right there. Fantastic mix of youth and experience that could be one of the best units in the NFL.
Special Teams – 3
Dan MFN Baily K
LP French Canadian Daddy LS
Chris Jones P
No surprises here. These are the guys and I have zero issues with it.
Practice Squad – 8
Jamar Newsome WR, Chris Boyd WR, Ronald Patrick G, Ben Gardner DE, Dartwan Bush DT, Will Smith LB, and Tyler Patmon CB.
Starters Make Cowboys Serious Contenders, But Depth is a Concern
Playing in the National Football Conference, the Dallas Cowboys have a difficult task ahead of them if they are to be serious Super Bowl contenders. Even still, they've become a very underrated football team due to their 9-7 record last season. The Cowboys struggled in many areas and with the Philadelphia Eagles crowned as Super Bowl Champions, everyone has forgotten about America's Team.
2017 was an awful year for the Cowboys. It seemed like a roller coaster of success, putting up an impressive performance one week only to disappoint the next one. Let's be honest with ourselves here and talk about what really ended the Cowboys' last season.
As much as we talk about how there shouldn't be any excuses in football - the Eagles made a huge statement by winning it all with a backup QB and other key starters missing - we can't deny the impact of these injuries.
Anthony Hitchens, Sean Lee, Tyron Smith and Ezekiel Elliott all missed some time last year, affecting the team's performance week in and week out. Had the starters been healthy, the truth is this team would've been in the playoffs.
Heading into 2018, the Cowboys will face a very similar situation. This year, starters make Dallas a serious contender. Even if they're playing in a conference that will feature a lot of quality teams, the Cowboys are a team that could beat any team in the league if healthy.
Even the dreaded wide receiver position - which has been famous this offseason for the lack of a #1 receiver - won't be as bad as we make it out to be starter-wise. A starting trio of Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup and Cole Beasley doesn't really sound bad.
Heck, not even Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods starting at safety is concerning. They have what it takes to be decent starters. Sure, Heath isn't a guy who will make the Pro Bowl, but his skills will show on the field once the season starts in September.
The Cowboys' starters will do just fine this season. If the team's fate is up to them, they are in a very good spot. The same can not be said about depth, though.
Except for the defensive line, every other position lacks depth. If Sean Lee goes down, the linebackers stop looking like a three-headed monster. Same goes for the cornerbacks. Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis seem like a good group but as soon as one of them suffers an injury, the Cowboys will be in trouble.
We're in for an exciting season with a lot of young talent waiting to breakout. The Cowboys are underrated this year. They may not be among the NFC's favorites, but they truly have what it takes to replicate the success they had in 2016. However, it seems like circumstances have to be ideal for them to make a run for the Lombardi Trophy.
With a little bit of luck, they'll bounce back this season.
The Dallas Cowboys WR Position Battle is Heating Up
Earning a spot on the Dallas Cowboys final 53-man roster is going to be a lot tougher in 2018 then it has been in years past. There is no shortage of position battles taking place right now to earn one of those coveted openings, but it's the battle taking place at receiver that's gaining steam and starting to heat up.
The ultimate unknown right now is how many wide receivers the Dallas Cowboys choose to carry on their 53-man roster this season. Last year they decided to carry six, but they have been known to carry just five. Unfortunately, this means they will have to release some talented players and risk losing them to another team.
As things stand right now there may just be one, possibly two, roster spots up for grabs. I think the only thing we know for sure right now is Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin are the only WRs who can feel secure their jobs are safe for 2018. Everybody else is playing a game of Survivor, just hoping their name isn't the one written down and their torch isn't snuffed out.
Terrance Williams' flame may be safe due to his current contract. The Dallas Cowboys can't save anything by releasing him, but it doesn't cost them that much either. It's unlikely he has a future with the team, so if someone were to prove themselves more worthy, his flame could be extinguished.
Last season I thought Noah Brown was ready to unseat Williams, but that never really materialized. Unfortunately, Brown hasn't really shown up as much as I thought he would this offseason, and missing the game against the San Francisco 49ers last week didn't do him any favors either. This doesn't bode well for him moving forward.
Deonte Thompson was signed as a free agent to provide some veteran experience and speed to the passing game, but that in no way means his job is secure. He needs to do something to show up a little more because his age and salary means a younger up-and-coming WR could make him expendable.
Second-year WR Lance Lenoir Jr. might just be the receiver who has stirred things up the most. He has not only created a buzz for himself in offseason practices, but he was able to carry it over into the preseason last week against the 49ers. His arrow trajectory is definitely pointing upwards.
I'd definitely hate to be the one to decide who stays and who goes when final cuts are made. It's not going to be an easy decision to make, because the outcome will definitely have an impact on the team's success this year.
All of these players were brought into help Quarterback Dak Prescott and the passing game reach new heights, so making the wrong move could be detrimental. The number of wide receivers and who the Dallas Cowboys decide to keep might be the most important decision they make before the season starts.
How would you predict the Dallas Cowboys WR position battle turning out?
Any Concern About Dan Bailey Not Playing Against 49ers?
With all the excitement of the Dallas Cowboys finally playing in a game last week against the San Francisco 49ers, it may have escaped your attention that Dan Bailey remained on the sideline the entire time. He didn't attempt one field goal or kick off once last Thursday, which in my opinion is a little concerning.
Dan Bailey joined Ezekiel Elliott and Sean Lee on the sideline as a healthy scratch last week. The decision to sit both Zeke and Sean Lee makes sense due to the physical demands of their positions, but sitting Bailey was a bit of a head scratcher. After all, it's not like he plays a physically demanding position like the other two.
I know. I know. Dan Bailey is an integral part for the Cowboys success moving forward. I'm not arguing that he's not, but after sitting out the majority of the 2017 season with a groin injury and lingering concerns about his health this year, not playing him at all against the 49ers is a bit confusing.
I don't believe there is any kind of kicking competition between Dan Bailey and Brett Maher, who handled all of the kicking duties against the 49ers last Thursday. Bailey will be the Cowboys kicker when the 2018 season gets underway in just a few short weeks. But, the question remains… Why didn't he receive any playing time?
Dan Bailey was never quite the same last season once he returned from his injury. Something was off and I don't know if it was more mental or physical, maybe a little of both. He just wasn't splitting the uprights like his normal self.
Unfortunately, we have seen this kind of thing happen in the past with one of the Cowboys kickers. Nick Folk went through a similar situation with an injury and never really bounced back. I'm just hoping history doesn't repeat itself.
Obviously, the Dallas Cowboys know more about what's going on with Dan Bailey than I do. But, you would think they'd have allowed him to attempt a field goal or at least an extra point in a game situation to build up his confidence once again. It's what I would have done.
Hopefully I'm just being a little paranoid and I'm reading more into this than there actually is. But, the fact I haven't heard any reasoning as to why Dan Bailey was held out last week is sitting a little uneasy with me. I'm just hoping it was precautionary in order to keep him as healthy as possible for the upcoming season.
Should we be concerned Dan Bailey was a healthy scratch last week?
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