The Dallas Cowboys preseason is finally over. In less than two weeks, they will open the NFL regular season when they take on the defending champs, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This is my fourth and final 53-man roster projection before cutdown day on Tuesday, August 31st.
But before we dive in, please consider the following note:
This projection reflects what I think the roster will look like after the usual moves to Injured Reserve have happened. Think about this projection as a reflection of what the team will look like in Week 1, instead of what it will look like on cutdown day.
Notable PUP or IR players:
- OT Josh Ball
- DE Chauncey Golston
- TE Sean McKeon
- DT Neville Gallimore
- DT Trysten Hill
Dak Prescott, Garrett Gilbert
The Dallas Cowboys’ backup quarterback could still be outside the team, but for now, we’ll lean with Garrett Gilbert to win the job. Cooper Rush had a solid game versus the Houston Texans, but less than a half of football might now win him the job.
Running back (2)
Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard
After Rico Dowdle’s injury, I’m betting on the Cowboys to carry only two running backs. Nick Ralston could break into the 53-man roster, but that’d mean going short on another position. Last year, Dowdle played only 13 snaps on offense and FB Sewo Olonilua had zero.
If they can make up for special teams at other positions, I’d expect them to keep only Zeke and Pollard.
Wide Receiver (6)
Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, Cedrick Wilson, Noah Brown, Simi Fehoko
I could see the Dallas Cowboys keeping only five wide receivers, but I’m leaning toward Simi Fehoko making the team. However, Malik Turner has made his case as well. I’m assuming Turner missing time due to injury could be enough to give Fehoko the edge.
Tight End (3)
Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz, Jeremy Sprinkle
With Sean McKeon likely headed to Injured Reserve, the Cowboys keep the veteran in what was already a very close battle.
Offensive Tackle (5)
Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, Ty Nsekhe, Terrence Steele, Brandon Knight
Even though Ty Nsekhe didn’t have the best preseason, the Dallas Cowboys made it clear he’s the team’s swing tackle by not playing him at all in the preseason finale versus the Jacksonville Jaguars.
I’m not sure about Brandon Knight, but the fact that the team’s depth isn’t great and Knight has position flex makes me think he gets a spot. Plus, the Cowboys have historically gone long at OL when building their rosters.
I do think Steele and Knight could be replaced if the Cowboys decide to sign an upgrade in free agency when cuts are made around the league.
Offensive Guard / Center (5)
Zack Martin, Connor Williams, Tyler Biadasz, Connor McGovern, Matt Farniok
Matt Farniok is far from a refined prospect, but the Cowboys are thin at center and guard and it’s hard to be sold on Williams as the backup center. Farniok finished the preseason strong and proved he belongs.
Defensive End (5)
DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, Tarell Basham, Dorance Armstrong, Bradlee Anae
Ron’Dell Carter had some big moments in the preseason, but it was difficult to find him a roster spot. However, Bradlee Anae makes the 53-man roster in this projection. When Chauncey Golston gets back from PUP, it’ll be interesting to see if Anae gets left out.
Defensive Tackle (5)
Carlos Watkins, Osa Odighizuwa, Brent Urban, Quinton Bohanna, Justin Hamilton
Neville Gallimore and Trysten Hill will likely open the season in IR and PUP, respectively. Although far from ideal, this opens the door for Justin Hamilton to be on the team Week 1. Rookies Osa Odighizuwa and Quinton Bohanna will have to step up due to the lack of depth at the position.
Micah Parsons, Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, Keanu Neal, Jabril Cox
One could make the argument for a sixth linebacker, but I have the Cowboys going long in the defensive backfield. This is a deep linebacker room, even though Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch might lose significant playing time to the newcomers.
Trevon Diggs, Anthony Brown, Jourdan Lewis, Kelvin Joseph, Nahshon Wright, Maurice Canady, C.J. Goodwin
Seven cornerbacks is a lot, but C.J. Goodwin is the Cowboys’ special teams’ ace. Meanwhile, Maurice Canady was among the biggest winners of the offseason and will likely find his way into the 53-man roster. Although not an ideal starting lineup, the Cowboys are better positioned in terms of depth at cornerback.
Donovan Wilson, Damontae Kazee, Malik Hooker, Jayron Kearse, Israel Mukuamu
Owner Jerry Jones made it clear the Dallas Cowboys were going to keep Malik Hooker on the 53-man roster.
This should be no surprise. Good players make rosters. https://t.co/3lcqus8rsD
— Mauricio Rodríguez (@MauNFL) August 29, 2021
Jayron Kearse has apparently earned himself a spot in the coaches’ eyes judging by how they’ve used him in the preseason.
Special Teams (3)
K Greg Zuerlein, P Bryan Anger, LS Jake McQuaide
No surprises here, except for the fact that we’re still not used to leaving out L.P. Ladouceur at long snapper. Enjoy retirement, L.P.
Featured image Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports