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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?



I didn't start out as a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quickly as I could. I grew up a Joe Montana fan when he was with the 49ers and followed him to the Chiefs, until we moved to Texas. I've now been a Fan of the Boys since the Dark Days of the Post-Aikman, Pre-Romo era of abysmal quarterback play, now relishing in more than a decade of franchise quarterbacking for America's Team.

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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.

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Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?

Sean Martin

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Despite Late Push in Year One, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See the Field in 2018? 1
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

It feels like ages ago that the Dallas Cowboys spent the 28th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft on Michigan Defensive End Taco Charlton. Perhaps this is a result of the constant distancing fans have made from this unpopular pick, or the corresponding moves the Cowboys have made at DE since drafting Charlton.

These moves include using the franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence after seeing him explode for 14.5 sacks, spending a fourth round pick this year on Kansas' Dorance Armstrong, and seeing Randy Gregory reinstated in time for training camp.

Across the entirety of the Cowboys roster, there will be plenty of "odd men out" that miss the cut down to 53 players. Defensive end remains one of the most cluttered spots on the current 90 man roster however.

Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?

Dallas Cowboys DE Taco Charlton, DT Maliek Collins (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

Prior to establishing the depth the Cowboys now have up front on defense, they did Taco no favors by starting his career at right defensive end. While Gregory may still be a long way from earning the starting role here, similarly styled players like Armstrong have the edge here over Charlton.

This relegates Charlton to the strong side, where he always projected best out of college. By the time the Cowboys realized this a season ago, they also knew a franchise pass rusher was playing his way into the team's long-term plans.

Lawrence's stellar consistency off the edge reduced Charlton's role in the Cowboys rotation of pass rushers. An ideal spot for the rookie to develop with less pressure on him, Charlton's opportunities to continue playing left end may only be reduced this season.

The first-round pick is capable of kicking inside at defensive tackle, a position the Cowboys could certainly use help at. However, asking Charlton to go through another position shift would only halt the progress that took quite a bit of patience from Dallas to see.

It's far from unheard of for the Cowboys to do this with their young players, but for now Charlton remains a defensive end looking to make his impact. The Cowboys are in much better position now than they were at this time a year ago when it comes to setting expectations for him to do so.

Given everything he showed on tape at Michigan as well as in his pre-draft interviews, Charlton is a player that needs to succeed at the task at hand. When this plan is altered, the 6'6" pass rusher is much less effective -- without even considering any athletic struggles that Charlton has compared to other prototypes at defensive end.

As a unit, the Cowboys defensive line has all the pieces to be very effective this season. Taco Charlton is a piece to this puzzle, a backup left end that must find a way to flourish in this role.

For most former 28th overall picks, doing so would be considered a fall from grace. For the Cowboys, it's simply an example of strong roster building that's forced life to come at Charlton quickly. How he responds with a full season under his belt will make or break the hype this deep Cowboys defensive line has garnered, lead of course by the starter at Charlton's position in DeMarcus Lawrence.

Tell us what you think about "Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys OT La’el Collins Could Become Major Bargain

Jess Haynie

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La'el Collins

When you talk Cowboys offensive line, you always think of Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin first. Right Tackle La'el Collins still has to prove he belongs in the same sentence with his elite teammates. If he does that in 2018, Collins could become one of the best bargains on the roster.

Making the move from left guard to right tackle last year, Collins improved with time and was playing his best football at the end of the year. This was despite ongoing back issues that had him on the injury report most weeks.

La'el started all 16 games at right tackle and did enough that the Cowboys committed to keeping him there in 2018, even despite a big hole back at left guard. They are hoping consistency and stability will allow Collins to really blossom this season, building on the strong progress shown last year.

For 2018, Collins has a $5.76 million cap hit. According to Spotrac, that makes him the 13th-most expensive right tackle in the NFL this year.

That middle-of-the-pack expense is consistent with where La'el currently rates among NFL right tackles. Bleacher Report ranked Collins as the 16th-best RT in football last year.

But that ranking was based on the season as a whole. If La'el plays all of 2018 the way he was playing towards the end of last year, he will have emerged as one of the better right tackles in the game.

La'el Collins' Position Flex Could Come in Handy for Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys OT La'el Collins

If Collins develops as we hope, that salary suddenly becomes a major bargain. The most expensive right tackles in the NFL are making $7-$9 million this season.

But this can go a couple of ways. With his 2019 cap hit rising to $7.9 million, La'el needs to next step forward.

If Collins were to struggle this year, it could make him a potential cap casualty next offseason. Dallas can save $6.5 million in cap space if Collins is released or traded in 2019.

Dallas could elect to give Connor Williams, their second-round pick this year, a look at right tackle next season. It's the position he played in college.

They could also consider veteran backup Cameron Fleming, who will still be just 26-year-old. Fleming has two Super Bowl rings and several starts, including in the postseason, from his time with the Patriots.

While we think of La'el Collins as a first-round talent, it's important to remember that he was ultimately an undrafted free agent. Dallas did not have to invest anything to acquire him, and ultimately that makes it easier to let him go.

Naturally, we prefer the other side of this coin. If Collins builds on 2017, he will join the upper echelon of right tackles in the league. And if the Cowboys' offensive line isn't already the best in the NFL, that would only cement them as the best unit in football.

If La'el makes the leap, it could mean huge things for the Cowboys' offense and team success this year.



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Dallas Cowboys

How Cowboys Could Benefit From Randy Gregory’s Suspension

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - Randy Gregory Withdraws Suspension Appeal, Cannot Return Until Week 15

Randy Gregory is back! His suspension is officially over and he will be able to join the Dallas Cowboys in Oxnard, California when training camp gets underway less than a week from now.

Speculation has already started as to what this could mean for the Dallas Cowboys defense this season, and shockingly expectations are rather high for a player who hasn't stepped foot on the field in over a year. But, that's not what I want to talk about today. Today I want to focus on Gregory's mess of a contract, because it is rather interesting.

Randy Gregory was signed to a four-year contract after being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the second-round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Gregory's rookie deal was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2018 season, but his multiple suspensions have now changed that expiration date.

You see, Gregory has only played in a total of 14 games in his career, 12 as a rookie and two in Year 2. His third year in the NFL was completely wiped out due to his year-long suspension. If you were to add that all up, it equates to just one accured season in the NFL. Remember that, because it could have a huge impact on his contract down the road.

Randy Gregory

Dallas Cowboys DE Randy Gregory

What all of this means is that the Cowboys can pretty much stretch out Gregory's contract now that they are three years in on the deal and have only gotten one accured season out of the agreement. That basically means they can push his contract back a year, meaning his 2017 salary ($731,813) gets pushed back to 2018, his 2018 salary ($955,217) gets pushed to 2019. That would essentially make him a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) in 2020.

Or does it?

Depending on how the Dallas Cowboys handled paying Randy Gregory during his suspension could actually make him an Exclusive Rights Free Agent (EFA). This is a similar situation in which David Irving found himself in after the 2017 season. The Cowboys placed a second-round tender on him in order to secure his services for another season, albeit at a $2.91 million price tag.

As you can see, the Dallas Cowboys pretty much hold all the cards when it comes to Randy Gregory's contract situation. It's all a little confusing, but that's what makes it such a unique and interesting situation.

Of course, the Cowboys could decide to extend Gregory early if he completely dominates upon his return this season. It's highly doubtful though considering his past suspensions, but still technically a possibility. If it does happen, you can go ahead and ignore everything I've written previously.



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