The Dallas Cowboys have until August 30 to set their initial 53-man roster. Up to that point, the team will go through joint practices, three exhibition games and various roster moves.
As all of this happens, we know what occurs in between. There will camp darlings, players who were afterthoughts coming in that push for a spot and veterans who disappoint.
So how will it all end up? Which players fall into these categories?
The roster is tough to predict when pads don’t come on until week two of practices. Instead we have bold, yet realistic predictions for how it will all shape up.
10) Simi Fehoko will become WR4
This obviously indicative that Michael Gallup starts the season on the PUP list. CeeDee Lamb, Jalen Tolbert and James Washington look like a lock to start the season as the starting trio. Leaving the Cedrick Wilson spot, WR4, open for grabs.
The front office took a chance on Fehoko last season and opted to not put him on the practice squad, for fear of losing him. He has all the size and speed you could ask for from a WR prospect and has made it a point of emphasis to take the next step in 2022.
He has gotten plenty of work with QB Dak Prescott in OTA’s and figures to get all the chances the coaching staff will throw at him.
9) Kelvin Jospeh will take a starting spot
All-Pro Trevon Diggs is the only sure-fire lock to start. Outside of him, the other two spots are up for grabs. The Dallas Cowboys have made it clear that second-year corner Kelvin Joseph will get all the opportunities to win the job.
Joseph won’t be charged for his connection to the murder of Cameron Ray. The coaches want to utilize his abilities in man coverage more. As we caught a glimpse of it in the final weeks of the season. Joseph will compete with Anthony Brown for the spot outside, across from Diggs.
Even if Joseph gets the upper hand, Brown could still end up starting in the slot. Don’t be surprised if the coaches at that point opt for Brown over Lewis inside, as Joseph might be too good to not start.
8) Tyler Smith will start games at both left side positions
From the start of OTA’s it’s been clear why Tyler Smith is getting reps at both left tackle and guard. The inevitability that future Hall of Famer Tyron Smith will miss time, as he has since 2016.
Smith seems like a lock to get the starting left guard spot, and the future left tackle spot. Smith has worked with the first team at tackle, with Connor McGovern inside, and with Matt Waletzko at left tackle, with Smith playing guard.
Don’t be surprised if this same lineup carries over into actual preseason action. Preparing for the very real possibility of it happening in the regular season.
7) Connor McGovern will be given a real chance to win a starting job
Speaking of McGovern, he has been working almost exclusively with the first team offense at left guard. Giving him more time to work with position, as he has shown the last two seasons how much better he plays on the right, compared to the left.
In addition to guard, it looks as if he’ll be a part of the center competition. Fans clamored for him to get a shot during the season, but was reportedly having a hard time reading defensive alignment. He has worked snaps at the position, that features a heavy competition with Tyler Biadasz, Matt Farniok and undrafted rookies James Empey and Alec Lindstrom.
From the outside looking in, McGovern’s best bet to be a starter might be as a fullback. Considering he’s being moved around the offensive line, we can’t count him out as a first-team player just yet.
6) The Cowboys will keep four running backs
The first three RB’s are obvious: Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard and fullback Ryan Nall. When it comes to the final predicted spot, it will come down to Rico Dowdle and undrafted rookie Malik Davis.
Rico Dowdle is returning from injury after missing all of 2021, but has shown skill as a ball carrier and on special teams. Especially as a kick returner. An area the Dallas Cowboys may want to keep way from Pollard to better utilize him on offense.
Davis doesn’t have the same burst Dowdle does but he’s a very strong runner, usually taking more than one tackler to take him down. What could be the difference is his ability in the receiving game as a pass catcher, an area he excels at, and blocking. Not many undrafted free agents get $100K guaranteed with no guarantee to make the roster.
5) Rookie Sam Williams will leave camp as the third best pass rusher
It’s clear that Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence are the Dallas Cowboys centerpieces of the defensive front seven. Parsons is a potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate, while Lawrence has been one of the league’s best defenders based on pass-rush win rate. Outside of them, it’s a combination of players designed to replace one.
The re-signing of Dorance Armstrong and addition of Dante Fowler is based around the idea that those two together can Moneyball the defensive line. Having two players replicate the expected success of Randy Gregory. Unfortunately, neither of them seemingly posses the consistent play on the edges individually.
In rookie Sam Williams’ case, he has possess some of the best upside of any edge defender in his draft class. The combination of size, burst and power is evident. If he’s able to correct his hand placement, learning from defensive line coach Aden Durde and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, he’ll be worth the 56th overall pick that some saw as a reach.
4) There will be a noteworthy free agent addition
The Dallas Cowboys WILL at some point add a veteran player. It’s uncertain which position or the cost, but at a certain point the front office’s hubris will slowly fade.
While there are plenty of worthwhile prospects and reliable starters on the team, the depth will show it’s ugly face at some point in the preseason.
It could be a WR like Cole Beasley or Will Fuller, both of whom have been attached to Dallas. Or potentially a high-profile defensive player like Anthony Barr or Dee Ford. Whether or not the signing works out is irrelevant at the moment as the team will need to show where it falters before it can be rectified.
3) Multiple undrafted free agents will make the final roster
If money’s any indication..
How to tell the undrafted FAs the Cowboys like a lot? Seven received-base salary guarantees of at least $100k, topped by Markquese Bell ($200k), followed by Juanyeh Thomas and Peyton Hendershot ($150k), Alec Lindstrom, James Empey, Malik Davis and Dontario Drummond ($100k)— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) June 2, 2022
Markquese Bell has the inside track to make the roster. Playing in a similar style to Jayron Kearse as a LB/S hybrid play-maker, taking snaps with the second-team defense.
Jonathan Garibay is the unquestioned favorite to earn the kicker spot, even with the return of Lirim Hajrullahu who has experience with the team.
If Malik Davis, as mentioned earlier, is included as a possibility, it won’t stop there. WR Ty Fryfogle is a pure slot receiver with the size (6’2″ 200) and route running ability that could give him the last potential WR spot.
Could either undrafted center, Empey and Lindstrom, push for a roster spot? Both are experienced centers that add to an already crowded interior offensive line group.
Possibly even Peyton Hendershot getting an edge at tight end. A position that lacks depth and could open the door for a solid blocker with reliable hands.
Then there’s defensive player like CB Isaac Taylor-Stuart and LB Aaron Hansford. Both are ‘traits’ prosects with starter potential, at spots with questionable depth.
A number of these will be wearing the star this season.
2) Neither OT will win the swing tackle position
There should be a disclaimer that there won’t be a pure swing tackle. If Tyron Smith is going to miss games, the most likely outlook is Tyler Smith kicks outside to tackle, and Mcgovern takes over at guard.
Reportedly, neither Josh Ball or Matt Waletzko have excelled at left tackle, whereas Smith showed a much more seamless transition. Truthfully, Waletzko and Ball will compete for the chance to fill in at right tackle, should Terence Steele miss time.
Primary reaction from one day of rookie minicamp is that Tyler Smith & Matt Waletzko spent most of their time as the primary duo on the left side, with Smith playing left guard & Waletzko at left tackle.— David Helman (@davidhelman_) May 13, 2022
They both seem to move really well.
From OTA’s Waletzko has the early edge in performance, with a budding frustration around Ball and his conditioning, health and development. However, this will have to be decided in real-game experience.
1) There will be MULTIPLE surprise cuts
DT Trysten Hill is the most common name attached to this concept. So while he’s still on the bubble, it might not be too much of a surprise if he’s cut.
Where the surprise cuts will come from are the areas that can save the Dallas Cowboys money later, if they have cheap and reliable options for this year.
If Kelvin Joseph really does win the job, would the loser between Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis be let go early? Either player saves the team over $3 million in cap, despite hurting the depth in the nickel.
Is the final edge spot going to come down to Tarell Basham and Dante Fowler? Parsons can line up on the edges. Lawrence and Armstrong are both under contract. Plus Chauncey Golston and Sam Williams are both young players with upside. Something’s got to give.
It doesn’t just exclusively stop at these positions as the team lacks quality, experienced depth in multiple areas. Should the Cowboys choose between inexperienced and inexpensive, or experienced and expensive. The front office has shown where they’ll usually lean.
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