There is a still a lot of time between now and when the Dallas Cowboys have to cut down their roster to get under the league mandated 53 limit, but that doesn't mean we can't go ahead and speculate what the team will look like in 2019. That's what I'm going to attempt to do today in this way-too-early Cowboys 53-man roster projection.
This is no easy task to undertake. The Dallas Cowboys have one of their deepest rosters from top to bottom in recent memory. There are going to be a lot of good football players who are left looking for another team to play for when cuts are made. That's both good and bad, because you never want to let go of good players and see them find success with another team.
With all of that in mind, here is my first attempt at predicting the 2019 Dallas Cowboys 53-man roster. Feel free to use the comment section located at the end of the article to share your thoughts and opinions on the players I selected, or didn't.
Dak Prescott, Mike White
The Dallas Cowboys carried three quarterbacks on the roster last season, but it's unlikely they will do so once again in 2019. Because of the current depth throughout the roster, Dallas will probably go light at QB this year in order to go a little deeper at another position. If that is indeed the case, I think Mike White gets the nod over Cooper Rush because of his upside and the fact he still has three years remaining on his rookie contract.
Running Back (4)
Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, Mike Weber, Jamize Olawale
The Dallas Cowboys drafted Tony Pollard and Mike Weber to hopefully lighten the load on Ezekiel Elliott's shoulders to help prolong his career, but don't be surprised if they add a veteran running back at some point. For now though, it's up to these two rookies to solidify the RB position in 2019 without any outside help coming in.
Jamize Olawale was re-signed by the Cowboys during the offseason, meaning they will once again carry a fullback on their 53-man roster. They haven't used a FB much on offense with Scott Linehan calling plays these last several years, but hopefully Kellen Moore can get Olawale more involved in the game plan. He can be a weapon if utilized correctly.
Wide Receiver (6)
Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Randall Cobb, Tavon Austin, Allen Hurns, Cedrick Wilson
For now, I have the Dallas Cowboys keeping six wide receivers on their 53-man roster. But, I think only Cooper, Gallup, and Cobb are the only ones who have anything locked down right now. I decided to go ahead and keep Tavon Austin around because he can contribute as a runner, receiver, and return man. I'm also keeping Allen Hurns because of his versatility to play on the outside or in the slot. I went ahead and kept Cedrick Wilson because I like his upside, but there are a lot of young, talented WRs who could challenge anyone of the bottom three for a roster spot.
Tight End (3)
Jason Witten, Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz
The Dallas Cowboys pretty much have the same tight end group from a season ago, except Jason Witten essentially replaces Geoff Swaim as the TE1. Witten's decision to come out of retirement and rejoin the Cowboys looks good on paper because of his past success, but I don't know if he is a clear upgrade. That's one of the reasons why I'm hoping Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz can take the next steps in their development, but if not don't be surprised if Dallas looks outside the organization for more help.
Offensive Line (9)
Tyron Smith, La'el Collins, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, Connor Williams, Connor McGovern, Joe Looney, Cameron Fleming, Mitch Hyatt
The Dallas Cowboys have some outstanding depth along the offensive line right now. They're starting five should be pretty much set in stone with Tyron Smith, La'el Collins, Zack Martin, Connor Williams, and Travis Frederick, who should regain his starting job after missing all of 2018 with an autoimmune disease. This group should be a force to be reckoned with this season, if healthy.
Luckily though, the depth behind their starters gives the Cowboys the ability to not only cover themselves if an injury should happen, but also allow them to go a little short along the OL. Joe Looney and Connor McGovern can both play guard or center, and Cameron Fleming will once again handle the swing tackle responsibilities. Dallas could go was just eight OL in order to go a little deeper at another position, but they seem to think pretty highly of Mitch Hyatt and may need to stash him on the roster to keep another team from snatching him up.
Defensive Line (10)
DeMarcus Lawrence, Robert Quinn, Tyrone Crawford, Dorance Armstrong, Taco Charlton, Antwaun Woods, Christian Covington, Maliek Collins, Trysten Hill, Kerry Hyder
I decided to go with 10 defensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys in this 53-man roster projection. I went with four true defensive ends and four true defensive tackles. The other two in Tyrone Crawford and Kerry Hyder have the versatility to play DE or DT, which is something Rod Marinelli values in his "rush men". But, I think at best only half of these players are safe.
Outside of DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn, no defensive end should feel safe they've secured a roster spot in 2019. The same can probably be said about defensive tackle as well behind Antwaun Woods, Christian Covington, Maliek Collins, and Trysten Hill. Watching the current Cowboys group of defensive lineman slug it out throughout the remainder of the offseason could be the most interesting position battles to keep an eye on.
Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, Joe Thomas, Chris Covington, Justin March-Lillard
Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch will once again return as the Dallas Cowboys starting MIKE and WILL linebackers in 2019, leaving only the SAM LB spot up for grabs. As things stand right now though, Sean Lee seems to be the favorite to play SAM this year. I think Joe Thomas will once again be the backup MIKE and WILL, leaving Chris Covington and Justin March-Lillard fighting for what little playing time may be left. This is a position I believe the Cowboys could look to upgrade with a more proven vet at some point if such a player becomes available.
Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, Jourdan Lewis, Michael Jackson
I think the cornerback position for the Dallas Cowboys will look much like it did last season. Jones and Awuzie should once again start on the outside, with Brown handling the nickel/slot CB responsibility. Jourdan Lewis will unfortunately fight for whatever scraps are left over, but there aren't many No. 4 CBs around the league as talented. He could be an invaluable fill-in if needed. As far as Michael Jackson is concerned, the hope is he rarely touches the field, making his rookie year a developmental one.
Xavier Woods, George Iloka, Jeff Heath, Donovan Wilson
The only thing I really know for sure about the Dallas Cowboys current stable of safeties is that Xavier Woods is the only one guaranteed a roster spot. He should be the starting free safety this season, but who plays next to him remains up in the air. George Iloka looks to be the favorite to earn the distinction, but that remains to be seen. I decided to keep Jeff Heath because of his experience and special teams ability, and Donovan Wilson over Kavon Frazier due to his youth and upside. Don't be surprised if this is a position Dallas tries to upgrade though.
Special Teams (3)
Chris Jones, Brett Maher, L.P. Ladouceur
Barring some unforeseen addition, it looks like Chris Jones, Brett Maher, and L.P. Ladouceur should once again be the Dallas Cowboys starting specialty players in 2019. There currently isn't any competition on the roster that should cause them any concern about losing their jobs as of right now, but that could change.
Lion Down: QB Matthew Stafford Ruled Out for Cowboys Game
The Detroit Lions will be without starting Quarterback Matthew Stafford this Sunday when they host the Dallas Cowboys. He has been officially ruled out due to fractures in his back; the second-straight game that Stafford will miss with the injury.
Fourth-year backup QB Jeff Driskel will get the start as he did last week against the Chicago Bears. The Lions lost that game 20-13, and Driskel went 1-4 as a starter last season when playing for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Stafford's status was confirmed this morning by Lions' Head Coach Matt Patricia.
Lions QB Matthew Stafford (back) has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Cowboys
Losing Stafford could leave Detroit completely crippled on offense. While they have one of the league's top passing offenses so far in 2019, that was all Matt's work at QB. Now they are missing both their starting QB and their top running back, Kerryon Johnson, who went on injured reserve in Week 7.
That said, Detroit did put up 357 total offensive yards last week against the Bears with Driskel starting. Given the quality of Chicago's defense and that the Lions were playing on the road, that's a strong number.
It will be interesting to see how Dallas strategizes on defense after last week's loss to the Minnesota Vikings. The Cowboys were completely run over by Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison, so will increased focus on run defense creates opportunities for Driskel and the Lions' receivers?
However it shakes out, Matthew Stafford's absence definitely helps the Cowboys. He is still one of the top quarterbacks in football and had a top-five passer rating before the injury.
We never root for injuries but such is life in the NFL. Sometimes you get the benefit, sometimes you're on the losing end.
Hopefully, this turn of fate helps Dallas get a much-needed victory.
#DALvsDET: Betting Preview, Trends, And Prediction
Cowboys -3.5 O/U 51.5 points.
After suffering a devastating four point loss to the Vikings on Sunday night, the Cowboys will look to get back on track against yet another NFC North foe.
Dallas now sits at 5-4, clinging to their first place spot in the division with the Philadelphia Eagles right on their heels. They have fumbled away four very win-able games already this season, and are running out of chances to take full control of their playoff destiny.
You can't necessarily call this one a must win for the Cowboys, but it's damn near as close as it can get to one for a week 11 game. Considering Detroit's record and injuries, the Cowboys can ill afford to let this one slip away on Sunday.
It's one of the few games against a team with a losing record remaining on their schedule.
The 2019 Lions are a tough team to figure out. Expected before the season to be one of the worst teams in the conference, the Lions started out the season rather well.
They were "undefeated" (there was a tie) through the first three weeks of the season, and played the Kansas City Chiefs extremely tough. They also went on the road and had the Green Bay Packers on the ropes for four full quarters.
But, with all that being said, they now sit at 3-5-1, with their NFC playoff hopes just about destroyed. Quarterback Matt Stafford is having one of the best seasons of his entire career, however, and is surrounded by an offense littered with receiving talent. If he's healthy and can play, he'll be a handful for the Cowboys secondary to deal with.
- The Cowboys are now 2-4 against the spread their last 6 games.
- The score total has gone over in 5 of the Cowboys' last 6 games. It's also gone over 5 of their last 6 road games.
- The Lions are 1-4 against the spread their last 5 games.
- The score total has gone over 7 of the last 8 times these teams have played.
Despite being on the road this week, I'm going to pick the Dallas Cowboys to come out on top and cover the 3.5 point spread. At some point, talent has to take over for this bunch, and what a better day for that to happen than against a hobbled Detroit Lions team?
The Cowboys have been far from perfect in 2019, but it's now or never if they want to rack up wins and start a playoff run.
Safety Darian Thompson Set to Start in Place of Injured Jeff Heath
Dallas Cowboys Safety Jeff Heath has been a starter for the defense since the beginning of the 2017 season. A streak of 35 games is likely coming to an end for Heath as he's been dealing with a shoulder issue this week. What this means for the Dallas Cowboys is that Darian Thompson, who's been filling in for the Cowboys as Heath's dealt with injuries each of the last couple of weeks, is set to start for the Cowboys this week against the Detroit Lions.
Thomspon, a former third-round draft pick of the New York Giants is finally getting an opportunity to play full-time with the first unit since coming to the Cowboys before the 2018 season. He's primarily been a special teams player as Xavier Woods and Heath have manned the safety spots but has been solid over the last couple of weeks. This will be Thompson's second start of the season after he filled in for Xavier Woods against the Miami Dolphins back in week three.
Against the New York Giants, Thomspon recovered a pivotal fumble that was forced by Xavier Woods that helped turned the tide in that game in the second half. In the Giants game, Thompson played 56% of the snaps and he played 80% of the defensive snaps against the Minnesota Vikings.
He's made some plays over the last couple of weeks piling up two stops per Pro Football Focus. PFF defines a stop as a tackle that prevents a play from gaining enough yardage to be deemed a successful play. In the passing game over the last two games, Thompson's been targeted three times and has only allowed one reception that went for seven yards.
Though he missed a couple of tackles last week against the Vikings, a lot of Dallas Cowboys missed tackles in week 10. Dalvin Cook is one of the more difficult players to get to the ground.
Thompson's challenge this week will come in the passing game against the Detroit Lions plethora of receiving targets. Defensive Backs Coach and Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard expressed confidence in Thompson's ability to fill in for Heath because of his mental and physical makeup.
While it's intriguing to see what Thompson has to offer, many who follow the team continue to wonder when Donovan Wilson will get the chance to play.
Wilson's preseason was as good as you could hope for from a rookie. He had three interceptions playing part-time snaps in four preseason games. The Cowboys have been in desperate need of a guy who has the knack for making plays on the ball that Donovan Wilson showed in his limited playing time during the preseason.
Thompson, with more years of experience under his belt is the more trusted option right now for the Cowboys and he has an opportunity to carve out a role with another start this week. Though he may not be the safety that we've been clamoring for, this could be a net positive for Dallas this week and moving forward depending on how he plays. How the defense looks with Darian Thompson in the lineup will be one of the big questions facing the Cowboys secondary in this week's matchup with the Detroit Lions.
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