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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick
The Dallas Cowboys have reportedly signed Receiver Devin Smith, previously with the New York Jets, to a futures contract. Smith was a 2nd-round pick, 37th overall, in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Before going pro, Devin was a college teammate of current Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith, and Noah Brown. They were all members of the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes team that won the National Championship.
Smith's agent, Jason Bernstein, tweeting the following earlier today:
Congrats to WR Devin Smith @dsmithosu for signing with the #DallasCowboys! Welcome back. https://t.co/hCMYoE8fEh
Thus far, Smith's NFL career has been marred by injuries. He has suffered two ACL tears in the same knee and only been able to appear in 14 games. He was waived by the Jets last summer and was not with any team last season.
Overall, the 2015 class of receivers has been disappointing. Amari Cooper has been a star and other later-round picks like Tyler Lockett, Stefon Diggs, and Jamison Crowder have been good. But the other big names of the class, such as Kevin White, Breshad Perriman, and DeVante Parker, have not lived up to the hype.
The Cowboys are known for trying to reclaim players who once had high draft status and bad starts to their careers. They are clearly hoping to cash in on Smith's previously perceived potential, which had him projected as a possible first-round talent at one time.
For both Devin and Dallas' sake, we hope it's a success!
Breaking: Scott Linehan and Dallas Cowboys Part Ways
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network is reporting that the Dallas Cowboys and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan have mutually agreed to part ways following a tumultuous season that saw the Dallas Cowboys offense finish outside the top 12 three out of his four seasons in Dallas.
Sources: The #Cowboys are firing OC Scott Linehan. Taking their offense in a new direction. An announcement is coming.
Scott Linehan was brought in prior to the 2015 season and saw his offenses finish 31st, fifth, 14th, and 22nd in his four years as the Cowboys play caller. The 2015 season can be excused as the Cowboys rolled out Kellen Moore, Matt Cassell, and Brandon Weeden for 13 starts after Tony Romo was injured twice during the season, but the team 2-11 in those 13 starts and the Cowboys failed to make the playoffs despite a strong performance on the defensive side of the football.
The Cowboys saw an offense that finished fifth in the NFL in points in 2016 decline each of the last two offseasons and Linehan has been continually criticized by analysts, fans, and players as well.
Many believe that the reason that Dez Bryant and Brice Butler weren't brought back in the offseason was because of the public criticism of the offense and the play caller instilling the offense and that criticism has carried over to this season when Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper acknowledged that the Philadelphia Eagles were sitting on the slant routes that they had run all game. Dak mentioned that he changed Amari's route to a go route, which led to a 75 yard touchdown that helped open up the offense.
Cole Beasley has been frustrated with his role for much of the season and deservedly so. He was often non-existent in the offensive game plan until the final five minutes of football games.
In the running game, the offense had become too predictable and reliant upon jumbo formations that led to Ezekiel Elliott having to run against eight in the box anywhere from 25-30% of the time. For perspective, Todd Gurley only ran against eight-man fronts around eight percent of the time. Scott Linehan never looked to attempt to take players out of the box, instead insisting on motioning more players into the box for the offensive line and Ezekiel Elliott to run against. It's amazing when you think about it, that Ezekiel Elliott was able to win the rushing title when facing loaded fronts as often as he did.
This was a move that needed to happen and the Dallas Cowboys didn't need to waste anymore time to make it happen. The offense had become stale and frustrating for the players as well as the fans. While Jason Garrett started the offseason saying he "didn't expect any changes," this was a move that absolutely had to happen for the offense to take a step forward. Below, you can read Jason Garrett's announcement on the move.
Cowboys have fired Scott Linehan
Even after the move for Amari Cooper, the offense looked better, but it still struggled at times to move the football.
The Cowboys have a young team with especially young players on the offensive side of the football. They have a quarterback who can throw from the pocket, but has excellent movement skills and capabilities of throwing the ball on the run. He's an excellent runner on designed runs. Despite us knowing all that, Scott Linehan looked reluctant to use him on designed quarterback runs that weren't read options or speed options. What you saw on designed runs in the Seattle game is what this team should be doing five times a game.
Now the question becomes, who should the Cowboys next offensive coordinator be? Our own, Staff Writer Brian Martin, laid out 5 Options to be the Next Offensive Coordinator earlier this week. I suggest you give it a read.
DeMarcus Lawrence Named Top Free Agent Of The 2019 Class
Much has been made about the Dallas Cowboys 2019 free agent class. Dallas has a ton of cap space moving forward, but they are going to "have" to pay many of the key players on their roster over the next two offseasons in order to keep their young core together.
Of course, when you're drafting, that's the goal. To draft so well that when your own players become free agents, you go ahead and pay them to keep them around, rather than overpay on the free agent market for external players.
One of the major pieces the Cowboys will have to retain this offseason is defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. And while Cowboys Nation often thinks of Lawrence as underrated around the league, the NFL has caught onto his importance as he enters free agency this Spring.
ESPN.com ranked their top 10 free agents for 2019, with DeMarcus Lawrence clocking in at number one, over elite players like Jadeveon Clowney and Le'Veon Bell.
ESPN's top 10 free agents for 2019 and what Le'Veon Bell should be looking to command based on previous measures. https://t.co/aJ7H1n001t
DeMarcus Lawrence is going to command big time money, likely even Khalil Mack-type money. But the fact of the matter is that he has earned it. Lawrence has been the heart and soul of the Cowboys defensive line the last two seasons, and the most consistent edge player on the team as well.
Not only has he been an effective pass rusher, but DeMarcus Lawrence also plays with a relentless motor against the run that can sometimes be rare to find in those premier pass rushers. He really is a jack of all trades at defensive end, and should be priority number one for the Cowboys this offseason.
Thankfully, I can't imagine the Cowboys not retaining DeMarcus Lawrence and extending him in the coming months.
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