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Who’s Already Locked Up a Spot on the 53 Man Roster?

John Williams

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Cowboys en Español: La Línea Ofensiva 1
James D. Smith / Dallas Cowboys

Training Camp, which begins on July 24th in Oxnard, California, will have a lot to say about who will make the final 53 man roster for the Dallas Cowboys. There are a lot of guys, however, who are going to be on the roster after the final cuts.

The chart below represents the names I think are etched on the stone tablet depth chart in Jason Garrett's office.

Right Now, Who's a Lock to Make the 53 Man Roster? 1

By my count that is 39 players that I'm 99.99% sure will be on the roster when the team gets ready to play the New York Giants in week one.

Several things you may notice about who's missing:

  • While I think it's a good bet that Jaylon Smith will be on the opening day roster, I think there is also a good chance he starts the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. He's been making strides, but why push it if he's not ready.
  • Kellen Moore to me is no sure thing at backup quarterback. There are many of you, out there, including Mauricio Rodriguez, who are certain of his talents, but I think there is a possibility the team can find a more experienced backup after cut-down day. Kevin Brady thinks the team needs to address the backup quarterback position and Brian Martin asks if the backup situation is a cause for concern.
Kellen Moore

Kellen Moore, quarterback, Dallas Cowboys

  • DeMarcus Lawrence's back issues have been well documented and staff writer Jess Haynie speculated here if 2017 could be his last season in Dallas. I see Lawrence as a P.U.P. candidate as well.
  • Another defensive end that has a job on the roster, just not week one, is David Irving. He has been suspended for four games by the NFL for violating the league's substance abuse policy. By week five he'll be on the roster.
  • Defensive end will be a position that needs to be worked out throughout training camp as there are question marks beyond on the depth chart; Taco Charlton, Benson Mayowa, and Charles Tapper.
Cowboys' Pass Rush: Who Will Be QB Sack Leader In 2017?

Oct 16, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman David Irving (95) during warmups prior to the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Dallas won 30-16. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

  • Tight end, behind Jason Witten, is a HUGE question mark. Health and readiness will determine the depth chart here. Geoff Swaim and James Hanna are still recovering from season ending injuries from 2016. Rico Gathers has to prove he's ready to play during the preseason to warrant a roster spot.
  • The team showed how they felt about Alfred Morris in the second half of last season. Morris was a non-factor leaving his job security in doubt.
  • The offensive line will be much of the talk of training camp. It remains to be seen just how they will line up at left guard and right tackle, but I'm pretty sure eight of the nine or 10 roster spots are already spoken for.
  • The fifth wide receiver spot (and sixth, if they decide to keep that many) will be an interesting battle in training camp. As you can see above, I believe Ryan Switzer is on the roster. Fourth round draft picks may have to earn it, but a fourth is an investment they would hate to part ways with this quickly. So it comes down to Lucky Whitehead, Brice Butler, Noah Brown, and Andy Jones for the fifth spot. My money is on Butler.
Is CB Orlando Scandrick Still In The Cowboys 2017 Plans?

Nov 23, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick (32) before the game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

  • Cornerback doesn't provide a lot of questions on who will be on the depth chart come week one. The question is how will they be deployed?
  • Safety, on the other hand, does have a major question mark. Who will start alongside Byron Jones? Jeff Heath seems to be the favorite, but he'll have to produce with an increased snap count. To me Xavier Woods will be Heath's biggest competition for playing time.

~~~

With 14 roster spots available for the remaining 51 guys who will be at training camp, the competition will be hot and heavy in Oxnard to fill out the roster.

We are now just three weeks away from the beginning of football season. Speculation will soon be drawing to an end.

In the meantime, who do you think are locks to make the opening day roster?



Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

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14 Comments
  • George_Johnson

    I am a Kellen Moore fan and have followed him his whole career and read just about everything said about him. This is what I think from following him and reading what S Linehan has said:

    The only way Kellen Moore is not the 2nd team backup is if he starts screwing up. He is the incumbent 2nd team backup, will get all the reps for the 2nd team backup, and will play all the preseason game minutes for the 2nd team backup. It is important for the coaches to get him ready to play and for him to prove himself beyond his season game work in 2015. If they were to have competition for this position, it would take reps/playing time away from K Moore. S Linehan is confident in K Moore and wants to give him the opportunity to get himself ready and to prove himself in preseason against 1st and 2nd team defenses. I don’t see K Moore screwing up. He should be very ready at this point, much more so then in 2015 and is likely to play well in preseason. He has a lot to prove and as usual needs to shut up his critics by playing better than anyone thinks he can play which is typical for K Moore. I would go so far as to say it wouldn’t surprise me if he outplayed D Prescott.

    • John Williams

      I don’t think they will bring anyone for Moore to compete with, but I do see the possibility of signing someone after the final cut down day if they see a better option out there.

      His spot isn’t guaranteed at this point.

      • George_Johnson

        I disagree. If K Moore doesn’t play that well or mediocre, then yes your scenario makes sense. If K Moore plays well or good, then I think the 2nd team position is settled, no matter who is available.

        • John Williams

          But the assumption is that he will play well. We just don’t know enough about Moore to assume such things.

          • George_Johnson

            I know a lot about K Moore. He has almost always played way better than anyone including coaches thinks he can play. From high school until now. This is because he does not look like or throw like an NFL QB. He is a master at pocket passing but with physical limitations. He is also very consistent and is not known for making mistakes. He almost set a new NCAA record for fewest interceptions (28) in a four year career. He is known, even in the NFL for his pocket passing knowledge/instincts/smarts so he is likely to learn and improve with more reps/experience. S Linehan has confidence in him and has said he can play in the NFL and that his arm is strong enough. He has also said he compensates for his physical limitations with his outstanding pocket passing skills/abilities to get the job done. His 2015 season play was mixed (per S Linehan he did a lot of good things but made too many mistakes). However, this was his first time playing against first team defenses, he had limited reps to get ready to play, he was still new and learning the Dallas offense/playbook, he wasn’t very familiar with the players/receivers, and he missed TC and preseason. I bet he stacked up pretty good to most QBs in the NFL for his first two and one half games. If he doesn’t play well in the five preseason games overall I will be surprised. Not only could his 2nd team job be in jeopardy but his career in the NFL could. He would be running out of excuses.

          • John Williams

            Man, I’m sorry, but I just don’t get it. If it weren’t for Scott Linehan’s facination with Kellen, he’d probably be a QB coach back at Boise by now.

          • George_Johnson

            I agree if it weren’t for Scott Linehan I am not sure K Moore would have been given a chance to prove himself in the NFL. It could be that K Moore has a combination of skills/abilities that might be as good any anyone who has ever played. These skills/abilities are pocket passing smarts/knowledge/instincts, accuracy, uncanny anticipation, quick release and poise/composure. This combination may allow him to play in the NFL and overcome a lot of his physical weaknesses. We will soon know more.

          • John Williams

            George, I want to give you the benefit of the doubt, but statements like this make it difficult for me.

            ” It could be that K Moore has a combination of skills/abilities that might be as good any anyone who has ever played.”

            He may be a good backup in the league. Emphasis on the word “may”. We have yet to see him in a game that matters for the Cowboys and even in the games that didn’t matter, he wasn’t good. He was average.

          • George_Johnson

            I was just trying to explain how he might be able to play when he doesn’t have any of the requisite physical abilities. The skills/abilities I listed are his top strengths and why he was a star in college and given a chance in the NFL. If he can play in the NFL, even at 2nd team it is probably because this COMBINATION of strengths are really strong, beyond most and maybe one of the best ever. I don’t know for sure but feel this statement is reasonable. Also, if he becomes a solid NFL QB the sports writers will need to research/study how he can do this with these serious physical limitations. This may be a first for the NFL and he may be very unique. There is a story there and it has something to do with his dad being a coach and his being in a constant football environment from the time he could walk. He also evidently studied/practiced/played QB relentlessly all his life. There may not be any other QB in the NFL that had this level of absorption while he was growing up. Some receivers have described an ability to know where the receiver is going to be, almost as a sixth sense. What caught my attention was his college coach, Peterson, who is not known to be outspoken, said and I quote, ” HE IS THE BEST POCKET PASSER I HAVE EVER SEEN.”

    • Jess Haynie

      George, you make good points but then go and say things like “it wouldn’t surprise me if he outplayed Prescott.” Come on, bruh.

      • George_Johnson

        My point was I think he will play well. This is his only time to shine and he should be very ready in terms of knowing the plays/offense/game plans, what S Linehan wants, knowing the other players and receivers, having more reps/experience in the Dallas system, understanding the defenses better, etc. D Prescott on the other hand will be trying to improve or work on certain things, getting ready for the season games and trying to not get hurt. The preseason doesn’t mean a lot to the starter and he may not even play very much or as much as K Moore. So I am serious as can be that K Moore could out play D Prescott. I didn’t say he would I just set it wouldn’t surprise me.

  • Jess Haynie

    I love the chaos on the TE depth chart, and I can’t argue with your logic. I think all three of Hanna/Swaim/Gathers are going to make it and competition will continue all through the season, but someone might have to be the fall guy if injuries create numbers problems at another position. It really is hard to know how that will shake out.

    One issue I have is your dismissal of Kavon Frazier. Seems like Xavier Woods is getting a lot of “shiny new toy” love from people, but Frazier was Woods last year. Stephen Jones put Frazier and Anthony Brown in the same sentence as guys they had higher grades on and thought they got as steals in the sixth. The difference is that Brown got to play because of injuries at corner, while Frazier was buried behind the veteran safeties. I think putting Woods over Frazier is a flawed assumption.

    • John Williams

      Yeah, I could be overlooking Frazier for sure. I think what has me intrigued by him is that he could have very well been a fourth round draft pick had they not gone defense the first three rounds.

    • John Williams

      I love the depth they have all over the roster, but especially Tight end. Hanna, Swaim both are solid backups with blocking and pass catching ability when called upon. Rico is sooooo intriguing.

Player News

Oakland Raiders’ Wide Receiver Amari Cooper On the Trade Block

John Williams

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Oakland Raiders' Wide Receiver Amari Cooper On the Trade Block

Aside from Wide Receiver Cole Beasley, the Dallas Cowboys haven't received much production from their wide receiver group outside of the occasional big play from fellow wide outs Michael Gallup or Tavon Austin. Well, the Oakland Raiders apparently are willing to listen to offers for Wide Receiver Amari Cooper and, according to Michael Rapaport, are asking for a first round draft pick in return.

Allan Bell on Twitter

Raiders want a first round pick for Amari Cooper, per @RapSheet.

 

The Dallas Cowboys could use someone with Cooper's ability, even if he has been a drop machine through his first four seasons. In his first two seasons in the NFL, 2015 and 2016, Cooper averaged 77 receptions on 131 targets, for 1,111.5 yards, and 5.5 touchdowns. Through his first three seasons in the NFL, Cooper averaged 11 drops a season, including 18 in his rookie season.

Any time you start a discussion about whether you should trade for someone, the question always begins with "what are you paying?" What would you be willing to pay for Amari Cooper? After back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons to start his career, he only went for 680 yards in 14 games (48.6 yards per game). Though the yardage wasn't great last year, he did catch seven touchdowns for the Oakland Raiders.

So far in 2018, Cooper is averaging 46.7 yards per game on 3.67 receptions per game and has only scored one touchdown.

I wouldn't send a top 60 pick for Amari Cooper. He's a good player, but is he better than what Michael Gallup could be? Because if you trade for Cooper he's going to likely eat into Gallup's snap count and we need to find out if Michal Gallup is a player that the Dallas Cowboys could rely on in the future. But, if the Cowboys coaching staff brought Cooper in to replace Allen Hurns, then I'd be very happy to talk about acquiring the former first round draft choice.

A starting wide receiver group of Cole Beasley, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup would be a very difficult group to cover and Quarterback Dak Prescott showed on Sunday that he has what it takes to get the ball down field to his receivers.

The Cowboys probably wouldn't make this trade, unless Jerry Jones got involved, because they value their draft picks too much, but if the Dallas Cowboys could get him for a third round pick I'd do it in a heart beat. For a second round pick, I'd have to get a fifth or sixth back from Oakland in that deal. Cooper's a good player, but hasn't shown to be one of the best at his position.

There are a couple other players from Oakland that I'm more interested in trading for.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

What do you think? Would you trade for Amari Cooper, and if so, what would you be willing to give?

 



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Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Win Big On the Ground, In Trenches With Rout of Jaguars

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Cowboys Win Big On the Ground, In Trenches With Rout of Jaguars

On paper, the Dallas Cowboys were going to struggle generating any offense against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. The league's top defense matched up against a Cowboys team that came in ranked 30th in pass yards per game, with the defensive front to slow down Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys seemed destined for a 2-4 start through the end of six weeks.

Thankfully, NFL games are not played on paper, and the action on the field at AT&T Stadium would tell an entirely different -- albeit unforeseen -- story of the Cowboys dominance. With a season high 206 rushing yards, the Cowboys ran wild on the Jaguars, making this win look remarkably easy behind a defense up to the task of defending the lead from the opening drive.

The Cowboys improved their home record to 3-0 this season. Now coming off their most impressive effort of 2018, the team earned a shot at first place as they travel to the Washington Redskins in week seven - searching for their first road win of the season.

Here are my initial thoughts on the Cowboys drubbing of the Jaguars, a wonderfully unexpected result that keeps plenty of postseason dreams alive for Dallas.

  • Jerry Jones caught a lot of heat this week for his comments on Head Coach Jason Garrett's job security, but certainly deserves a lot of credit for wanting to see more of Quarterback Dak Prescott as a runner.

Jones called Garrett the "real deal", a sentiment better reserved for Prescott when he's able to take matters into his own hands and run the football. With 82 yards on the ground, Dak was eight yards shy of doubling his previous career high, sprinting down the sideline for the Cowboys first touchdown of the game.

Prescott's rushing ability takes advantage of the Cowboys offensive line's ability to get out in space and block. A fearless runner that can keep defenses honest on his own before unleashing Elliott on the ground, Prescott's legs are the key to the Cowboys repeating a performance like this later in the season.

  • Without Leonard Fournette, the Jaguars are not built to play from behind, and the Cowboys defensive line made sure of this.

The "Hot Boyz" were at full strength with David Irving back on the field for the first time this season. Rushing with DeMarcus Lawrence, Maliek Collins, and Randy Gregory on the Jaguars' third down attempt following Brett Maher's first FG, Irving was able to chase after Bortles and force an incomplete pass out of bounds as he recorded the QB hit.

With Jaylon Smith also blitzing on the play, this had to be an incredibly proud moment for Garrett, Rod Marinelli, and the Jones' upstairs, as their trust in both Irving and Gregory paid off to create a fearsome pass rush.

Knowing they had interior defenders that could get off blocks and finish plays, the Cowboys defensive ends in this game were aggressive rushing up the field and collapsing the pocket on Bortles.

  • Michael Gallup is slowly emerging as this team's number one wide receiver, thanks to his ability to make plays on contested balls. 

Look no further than Allen Hurns' stat line from this win to see why rookie Wide Receiver Michael Gallup is going to be crucial to the Cowboys passing offense as this season progresses. Hurns was the only receiver targeted that failed to bring in a catch, as Prescott has struggled to find any rhythm with the big-bodied free agent signing.

On the other side of the field, Gallup has flashed similar 'above the rim' abilities to Hurns, while also being a more reliable route runner with big play potential after the catch. Cole Beasley was open all afternoon against the Jaguars secondary, but early in the game when Prescott needed a play he was able to fit some great passes into Gallup.

I include Gallup's touchdown catch that was called back, since it was a safe strike from Dak. Putting the ball where only Gallup could make the incredible catch, Gallup was inches away from scoring his first NFL touchdown.

Instead, with the Cowboys rotation at WR trimmed down due to injury, Gallup staked his claim for a larger share of the snaps in the Cowboys 40-point performance.

  • This was another good game for rookie Left Guard Connor Williams, but I thought he had a chance to prevent the Calais Campbell sack that forced the Cowboys to settle for three points on their first possession. 

As Prescott stepped up in the pocket, Campbell was able to change directions and cut across the face of Williams. With nobody else in front of him, it looked like Williams was in prime position to deliver a shot to Campbell, but was unable to get a hand on the Jaguars top pass rusher.

Reacting late to the whole play, Campbell finished the play for his only sack, a stat the Cowboys will certainly take when evaluating a fairly dominant day for their entire offensive line.

  • The rate at which Linebackers Jaylon Smith and rookie Leighton Vander Esch are making open field tackles is easily the best thing going for the Cowboys defense right now.

Whenever Jaylon Smith appears in the vicinity of an opposing receiver or running back, they better brace for impact. Where Smith has been the enforcer of the Cowboys defense at MIKE, Vander Esch is playing off him perfectly as the second starter with range and athleticism to cover from sideline to sideline.

The Cowboys have allowed an average of 16.67 points over their last three games without Sean Lee, a full point better than the three games Lee's played against the Panthers, Giants, and Seahawks. This is exactly the reason why Dallas was so comfortable drafting Vander Esch.

Even still, having the Boise State product rising to the occasion so early in his Cowboys career alongside Smith gives the Cowboys a LB pairing they can trust for years to come. This is more than they ever signed up for when drafting both players to ideally play with Lee, something they'll still get the chance to do in the coming weeks.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Alternating wins and losses through their first six games, the 2018 Cowboys remain an enigma that (again, on paper) have a lot to build on after defeating the Jaguars soundly. The ease at which the Cowboys moved the ball should at least partially be attributed to how difficult it was for the Cowboys to manage any offense in their three road losses.

With a defense that's shows up each week to keep Dallas in any game, the time is now for the offense to travel away from AT&T Stadium and earn the Cowboys first winning streak at Washington. In doing so, the Cowboys would claim first place in the NFC East.

Given the expectations set on this team before the year, this feels like the only surefire way for the Cowboys to put their tumultuous start behind them, serving as a reminder that the NFL is the ultimate week-to-week league.

Keeping that in mind, this team deserves a day to enjoy their decisive win from Sunday. Welcome back to Victory Monday, Cowboys Nation.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Win Big On the Ground, In Trenches With Rout of Jaguars" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Game Notes

Dallas Cowboys Beat Jacksonville Jaguars 40-7: Who are the 3 Stars?

John Williams

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Dallas Cowboys Beat Jacksonville Jaguars 40-7: Who are the 3 Stars?

What a way to bounce back after a disappointing loss on the road in week five against the Houston Texans. As frustrating as that outcome was against the Texans, this victory was equally as sweet, as the Dallas Cowboys bounced back with a dominating 40-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

That was a much needed win for a team that hopes to be contending for the NFC East title in 2018. And you better believe that at 3-3 on the season, they are still in the thick of that divisional race.

There were a few stand out performances in the blowout victory, but to make this a more difficult exercise for myself, I'm not including any honorable mentions. That's just cheating.

Make sure to let us know who your 3 Stars are in the comment section.

First ✭

Dak Prescott

If there was ever a time and ever a moment in which Dak Prescott needed to have a career defining performance, this was the week that he needed to do that.

The virtual boo birds were out in full force this week following another poor performance for the Dallas Cowboys quarterback in the last 13 games. Prescott responded in a huge way with big time throws on third downs and looking extremely poised and confident.

The final passing line isn't all that extraordinary as he went 17/27 for 183 yards, two passing touchdowns, and a passer rating of 107.5, per NFL.com. Sure, if you just look at passing stats, you can argue it's not that impressive, but when you include his rushing numbers in the discussion, even the staunchest realist or Dak-hater has to admit that Dak Prescott had a great day on Sunday.

Dak Prescott set career highs in carries (11) and rushing yards (82) while adding a touchdown on the ground. It was his first rushing touchdown since week 15 of 2017. For a quarterback to end up only 18 yards shy of a hundred yards rushing is huge for your offense.

They weren't all designed runs either.

Dak Prescott in games past tried to force passes when running lanes were available to him on the outside. On Sunday against the Jaguars, he took his opportunities to run the ball when he was flushed from the pocket and the Jaguars paid dearly.

He looked like the Dak Prescott that took the NFL by storm his rookie season and for eight games in the 2017 season. He was poised in the pocket, confident in his arm and his receivers, and was seeing the field better than he had in the previous 13 games.

All against one of the best defenses in the NFL.

Second ✭

Cole Beasley

The Dallas Cowboys needed a big game from a wide receiver in a bad way and Cole Beasley stepped up. After a week of being asked questions about the play and production of the Dallas Cowboys wide receiver group Beasley had answers all day on Sunday against a variety of coverages and players when Jacksonville went man-to-man.

After posting nine catches for 101 yards and both of Dak Prescott's two passing touchdowns, Beasley silenced the "wide receivers are the problem" critics with a performance reminiscent of his 2016 career year.

Cole Beasley was getting open at will against man coverage and finding soft spots in the zone matchups often. Beasley's been so vocal about his wish to be compensated as one of the best slot wide receivers in the NFL, and against the Jacksonville Jaguars, he looked like one of the best slot receivers in the NFL.

Third ✭

Randy Gregory

There are several players, as well as the offensive line, who could have been the third star from Sunday's victory over the Jaguars, but I think Randy Gregory deserves mention here.

We all know Gregory's story at this point.

Randy Gregory had a really good game. He was third on the team in tackles with three, had two tackles for loss, three quarterback hits, and his first sack since January 1st 2017. A total of 651 days. That was week 17 of the 2016 season. Only Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith had more tackles than Gregory did Sunday.

It's only his second career sack, but what a confidence boost for Gregory who has worked really hard on his sobriety to get himself in a position to play in the NFL.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

After a tremendous win against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Dallas Cowboys remain only a half game back in the NFC East divisional race. They'll have a chance to take the lead in the division next week as they travel to Washington to play the divisional leading Redskins next Sunday afternoon.

There's no better way to start a Monday than with a Dallas Cowboys victory Monday. Did I leave someone off this 3 Stars list who deserved to be there? Let us know.

Who were your 3 Stars of the Game?

 



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