As training camp begins this week and the Dallas Cowboys begin the process of figuring out who is going to be on their 53-man roster week one. Though the final roster won’t be finalized until week one of the regular season, 80% of the roster is locked in for the week one matchup with the Carolina Panthers.
It’s a reality in the NFL that most of an NFL roster is set in stone even before they ever report to training camp.
We want to believe that there is competition up and down the roster. While that’s true, typically it doesn’t impact a player’s standing on the roster as much as it does the depth chart.
For example, Dak Prescott is going to be the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys no matter what his preseason and training camp look like.
When I did this exercise a few months ago, I had 42 slots on the 53-man roster already spoken for. I’m at 43 names at the moment. Not many differences from May, but there are a few.
The chart below indicates who I believe has already locked their roster spot down heading to Oxnard, California.
The only difference here is that I’ve added Cooper Rush as a roster lock. I think I overvalued the idea of Mike White as a draft pick in making Rush potentially expendable in my previous “Roster Lock” piece.
Rush has the confidence of the coaching staff and has the experience edge over White, even if it is only one year. That one year matters to this group of coaches.
Roster construction and injuries could change the dynamic of how many quarterbacks they feel like they can keep, but I’m nearly 100% certain that these three will be on the roster.
In my previous post, I had Tavon Austin listed with the running backs. Since then it’s been confirmed by Austin himself as well as people covering the team like Mike Fisher and Bryan Broaddus that he is a WR.
He’ll be used in the backfield some, but for all intents and purposes, he’s with the WR group.
The training camp battle at running back is between Bo Scarbrough and Darius Jackson.
Special teams play will be the key to this roster decision. It’s even possible that the team could opt to run with only two traditional tailbacks on the 53-man roster with Tavon Austin’s ability to take a few handoffs per game.
The change here from the previous edition is obviously the move of Tavon Austin to wide receiver. He may be listed by the team as a running back, Austin sees himself as a WR.
And as I’ve said from the day he was acquired, the Tavon Austin ‘web-back’ thing is foolish. He considers himself a WR and has mostly been practicing there. Certainly, tho, there is matchup fun to be had by lining him up in backfield WITH Zeke. https://t.co/YGOf9ibop1
The bigger move is the removal of Terrance Williams from the depth chart.
I’m fairly certain that he’s on the roster come week one, but allegedly being intoxicated in public and running his Lamborghini into a light pole, his status on the roster could change. There is a chance that a suspension comes for violating the Personal Conduct policy. That’s the only thing creating doubt for Williams at this point. If he avoids a suspension, Williams will be on the roster.
Noah Brown and Deonte Thompson are the top candidates to be the sixth wide receiver on the roster, with sixth round rookie draft pick Cedric Wilson and UDFA and practice squad veteran Lance Lenoir as dark horses to make the squad.
I believe that seven spots are already locked down. The starting five of Tyron Smith, Connor Williams, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, and La’el Collins are written in permanent ink on Jason Garrett’s depth chart.
Cameron Fleming and Joe Looney are entrenched as the primary backups at tackle and center. This leaves backup guard as the one place where the Dallas Cowboys still have a question.
We know that Looney can play some guard, but other candidates are Chaz Green, 2018 free agent signee Marcus Martin, and Ka’Deem Edwards.
Backup guard will be a competition through camp and most analysts see the Dallas Cowboys only keeping eight offensive lineman, leaving one spot for the three backup guard candidates mentioned.
Even though it’s a question, it’s much better than having to figure out who is starting at guard.
Randy Gregory isn’t officially allowed to practice with the team or take part in the preseason games as Mike Fisher from 105.3 The Fan and 247Sports is reporting he has some conditions he still needs to meet. However, he’s on track to be on the roster come week one.
Kony Ealy and Charles Tapper could possibly be the odd men out on the depth chart. With five already looking at a roster spot at defensive end, they will need a strong camp to force the team to keep them on the roster. Ealy has a bit of an inside edge as he can play on the inside in pass rushing situations.
David Irving’s suspension means that he won’t be on the 53-man roster opening weekend. He will be on the team when he’s eligible to return week five, but that’s not the exercise we are doing here.
Jihad Ward and Datone Jones are new additions to this chart. Previously it was only David Irving and Maliek Collins, but with the suspension to Irving, I don’t see a scenario where Ward and Jones aren’t on the week one roster versus Carolina.
They have very little experience on the interior of the defensive line and Datone Jones and Jihad Ward seem to fit the bill of guys who can play 3T and be penetrators on the interior.
No changes here. Love the depth that they have this year after being so weak at the position last year. I’ve always liked Damien Wilson as a strong side linebacker in a limited role. He’s been very good against the run at setting the edge. I like him even better as a player off the bench.
Joe Thomas is a solid multi-positional linebacker who can play the WILL and MIKE positions and will help on special teams.
The lead story will be on Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, and Leighton Vander Esch. All three have some injury concerns, but if all three are healthy, they will be one of the more dynamic and possibly dominant groups in the NFL.
Nothing has changed amongst the defensive back groups, though as many of us in Cowboys Nation wish, hopefully a splash will be made to bring in a certain All-Pro safety.
Despite Dan Bailey’s end of season struggles in 2017, he’s the place kicker. I don’t expect that trend to continue into preseason or the regular season.
Chris Jones is one of the best punters in the NFL and his ability to run fakes is a very underrated aspect of his game. He’s converted fakes each of the last couple seasons at very important times in the season.
He’s such a weapon.
L.P. Ladouceur is as perfect as a long snapper as there is in the NFL. There will come a day when he retires, but hopefully that day doesn’t come any time soon.
There will be a few changes to the roster, but typically related to injuries. This is the majority of the roster that will be there come Week One.
Who do you think the other nine guys are that will be on the roster when the team suits up week one at the Carolina Panthers?