The Dallas Cowboys have officially closed out their OTA and mini-camp practices, and won’t take the field again as a team until July 30 in Oxnard, California at the start of training camp. That’s not to say that players won’t continue working out or practicing on their own, it just means that we have about a month before any official practices get underway once again.
This is a slow time in regards to any Dallas Cowboys related news, and unfortunately any news that makes headlines is probably going to be of the negative nature (let’s hope that doesn’t happen).
So, I thought I would take the opportunity to try and predict the final 53 man roster for the Dallas Cowboys.
Tony Romo, Kellen Moore, Dak Prescott
Analysis: Tony Romo is without a doubt the #1 QB and the team’s success will likely be determined by his health. Kellen Moore is the backup as of now, but how he performs in training camp will ultimately decide if the organization looks for someone more experienced. Dak Prescott gets the nod over Jameill Showers because of his draft status, but I’m hoping the Cowboys can find a way to keep Showers around somehow.
Ezekiel Elliott, Alfred Morris, Darius Jackson
Analysis: Ezekiel Elliott is going to receive a heavy workload as a rookie and should be a stud running behind the Cowboys dominant offensive line. Alfred Morris is guaranteed to make $1.8 million, so he will provide the veteran leadership and backup duties behind Elliott. I gave rookie Darius Jackson the nod over Darren McFadden because owner/general manager Jerry Jones has said before that he wants his third running back on the depth chart to contribute on special teams, and that’s not part of McFadden’s game anymore. Lance Dunbar likely starts of the year on the PUP list, but if Jackson performs well enough, Dunbar could become expendable.
Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Brice Butler, Andy Jones
Analysis: I think the top four receivers (Bryant, Williams, Beasley, and Butler) are probably pretty set, so that leaves an intense battle for the final WR spot. This is the first real shocker about my roster projection and Lucky Whitehead gets beat out by UFA Andy Jones. Jones received the opportunity to practice with the first team unit and might offer more as a WR than Whitehead.
Analysis: Rod Smith offers an interesting skill set that is intriguing because of his versatility to play both fullback and essentially be the fourth running back for the Dallas Cowboys. Smith also plays special-teams, but he really made my roster because offensive coordinator Scott Linehan can really get creative in the way that they decide to use him on offense.
Jason Witten, James Hanna, Geoff Swaim
Analysis: No, Rico Gathers doesn’t make the final 53 man roster. He is still is just too raw to justify a roster spot. Gavin Escobar may not be fully healthy when the season kicks off, but even if he is, I’m still not sure I would keep him around. Honestly, I would see if I could find a trade partner if possible. Jason Witten and James Hanna aren’t going anywhere, but this will be a big training camp for Geoff Swaim. The Dallas Cowboys could keep a watchful eye on the waiver wire and see if there is a better option for the third tight end.
Analysis: Ronald Leary could be a tradable commodity, but he is valuable because he provides a backup with starting experience. Charles Brown is the swing tackle as of now, but if Chaz Green can beat him outright it could possibly allow the Cowboys to go a little lighter along the offensive line. Who knows, maybe Green can even push Doug Free for a starting role. Joe Looney was signed to be the backup at both center and guard and the rest of the starters along the offensive line is as good as there is in the NFL.
Ryan Russell, David Irving, Benson Mayowa, Jack Crawford, Charles Tapper, Mike McAdoo, Tyrone Crawford, Cedric Thornton, Terrell McClain, Maliek Collins
Analysis: DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory are expected miss the first four games of the season due to suspension, but we’re still waiting to get word of Lawrence’s appeal, so his suspension could be lessened. I went a little deeper at the defensive line position because of those suspensions and as a result Mike McAdoo makes the roster. I expect the Cowboys to keep a close watch on the waiver wire and possibly add another pass rusher via trade.
Sean Lee, Rolando McClain, Anthony Hitchens, Kyle Wilber, Damien Wilson, Andrew Gachkar, Mark Nzeocha
Analysis: There are no real surprises here. Sean Lee and Rolando McClain will once again be the focal point of the linebacker position, but keep a close eye on Mark Nzeocha. He could challenge for the starting strong side linebacker position and be a key member on special teams as well.
Orlando Scandrick, Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Anthony Brown, Deji Olatoye
Analysis: The cornerback position is a little concerning but, like it or not, the top three spots are locked down by Scandrick, Carr, and Claiborne. The fourth and fifth spots on the depth chart are up for grabs. Rookie Anthony Brown is intriguing and has been practicing as both an outside CB and in the slot. Deji Olatoye showed a little something towards the end of the 2015 season and has a size advantage over other Cowboys cornerbacks.
Byron Jones, Barry Church, Jeff Heath, Kavon Frazier
Analysis: It may not be a big surprise to some of you, but I have the Dallas Cowboys saying goodbye to J.J. Wilcox. He is in the last year of his rookie contract and has failed to develop the way that the organization had hoped. Kavon Frazier doesn’t really have to show a whole lot to make Wilcox expendable, but he does have to prove that he has more upside. Byron Jones, Barry Church, and Jeff Heath are all but locked in, but if there was an odd man out it would likely be Church if someone proves to be a better option.
Dan Bailey, Chris Jones, L.P. Ladouceur
Analysis: Barring some unfortunate injury, the specialists for the Dallas Cowboys are chiseled in stone. I don’t foresee any changes at all here. You simply don’t mess with a good thing, and the Dallas Cowboys have a real good thing going with Dan Bailey, Chris Jones, and L.P. Ladouceur.
Thoughts? Opinions? Snide remarks?
Please feel free to use the comment section below to provide any information that you believe is worthy of further discussion. I look forward to hearing from you..