It’s never too early to wonder how the Dallas Cowboys 53-man roster will look like when the season kicks off. Unfortunately, many injuries will get in the way of these projections in the upcoming months that will make some decisions “easier” for the front office.
Without further ado, let’s get to my early Cowboys’ 53-man roster projection.
Dak Prescott, Garrett Gilbert
After carrying with three quarterbacks last season, the Cowboys don’t have an answer at QB2 right now. I’ll pencil in Garrett Gilbert’s name for now, but I expect the front office to add some veteran competition. While last year’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers was exciting, Gilbert did not play as well as your memory might suggest.
Running back (3)
Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, Rico Dowdle
It’ll be interesting to see how Mike McCarthy and Kellen Moore address this position. Rico Dowdle has some competition as RB3 after the undrafted free agency, but his biggest competition might come in the form of a fullback if the Cowboys decide to carry one.
Wide Receiver (6)
Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, Cedrick Wilson, Simi Fehoko, Noah Brown
I really like fifth-round rookie Simi Fehoko’s chances of making the roster. He can play special teams which will help him earn a spot right away plus his size might earn him some snaps in certain situations. Noah Brown is no stranger to roster battles, and he’ll be in the bubble once again.
Tight End (3)
Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz, Sean McKeon
Tight end will be one of the most exciting camp battles to watch within the Dallas Cowboys. Not only will Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz battle it out for the starting role, but McKeon and free-agent signing Jeremy Sprinkle will also fight for TE3. I’m slightly leaning toward McKeon on this one.
Offensive Tackle (4)
Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, Josh Ball, Terence Steele
This is far and away the most complicated position to project. The Cowboys have plenty of options at tackle. Even though I don’t care for the Josh Ball pick due to his off-the-field issues, the team clearly made a decision when they drafted him in the fourth round. I’m guessing they’ll stick with it when the roster cuts arrive. He’s talented enough to beat 35-year-old Ty Nsekhe for the swing tackle spot.
As for OT4, Terence Steele and Brandon Knight will have an interesting battle in camp. For now, I’m leaning toward Steele due to the fact that the coaching staff clearly likes him enough after trusting him to start as an undrafted rookie last season.
Watch out for Isaac Alarcón, as well. He’s an athletic freak – as Duke Manyweather called him – with a legit chance to make this roster. As an International Player Pathway player, the Cowboys can carry him in the 90-man roster and the practice squad without him counting toward the player limit.
Offensive Guard / Center (5)
Zack Martin, Connor Williams, Tyler Biadasz, Connor McGovern, Matt Farniok
As a seventh-round draft pick, Matt Farniok could earn himself a spot on the Cowboys thanks to his versatility to play all across the offensive line. In Nebraska, he played 26 games at RT, nine at RG, and one at OC. Plus, there’s not a lot of competition at the position in Dallas.
Defensive End (6)
DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, Chauncey Golston, Bradlee Anae, Ron’Dell Carter, Brent Urban
The Dallas Cowboys needed to address the defensive depth behind Lawrence and Gregory and they’ve done a solid job so far. Ron’Dell Carter is a player the coaching staff clearly likes after bringing him back after the Indianapolis Colts poached him last season. His ability to play as edge or even a three-tech will likely earn him a spot on the roster.
Defensive Tackle (5)
Trysten Hill, Neville Gallimore, Osa Odighizuwa, Quinton Bohanna, Carlos Watkins
Waiving Antwaun Woods was a surprising move by the Dallas Cowboys. But it makes it easier to project the 53-man roster. Osa Odighizuwa and Quinton Bohanna might have better rookie seasons than one would expect from a third-round and sixth-round rookie. Watkins will be in the roster bubble, but his long arms might be a trait Dan Quinn’s ready to bet on.
Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, Micah Parsons, Jabril Cox, Keanu Neal, Francis Bernard
Six linebackers might sound like a lot, but Keanu Neal should be a hybrid between linebacker and safety and will be featured in certain defensive packages. Bernard and Cox should be able to contribute as special teamers.
Trevon Diggs, Kelvin Joseph, Anthony Brown, Jourdan Lewis, C.J. Goodwin, Nahshon Wright, Reggie Robinson
Although we were shocked by the Nahshon Wright selection at #99, Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn clearly looks at him as a clear scheme fit. C.J. Goodwin will rely on his special team’s play to stick around the Dallas Cowboys. For the past two years, he’s led the team in snaps on special teams.
Reggie Robinson’s position remains unclear, but he provides the team with some position flex as he can move over to safety.
Damontae Kazee, Donovan Wilson, Israel Mukuamu
Adding Damontae Kazee in free agency might just prove to be the most important outside signing the Cowboys made in 2021. Although Mukuamu played as a versatile defensive back in South Carolina, Stephen Jones has said the team sees him as a safety. I expect Keanu Neal to play some snaps as a regular strong safety.
Special Teams (3)
Greg Zuerlein, Hunter Niswander, Jake McQuaide
It feels weird not to pencil in L.P. Ladouceur’s name as the Dallas Cowboys’ long snapper. But John Fassel’s special teams have moved on. Bryan Anger will make things interesting as he competes with Hunter Niswander, but the young punter showed pretty strong results in 2020.
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