With OTA’s just last week, some might think it’s a bit early to project what the Dallas Cowboys roster will look like on opening day. I am not one of them. The Cowboys added some quality talent this offseason but, due to the 53 man limit and restrictions regarding the practice squad, they won’t be able to keep them all. Talented players will be cut and likely end up on another NFL team.
This is who I project the Cowboys will keep:
Quarterback: (2) Tony Romo and Kyle Orton. It would be great to have a third quarterback on the team to develop as an eventual starter. That will only happen if they can keep one on the practice squad.
Running Back: (4) DeMarco Murray, Joseph Randle, Kendial Lawrence and Lawrence Vickers. Phillip Tanner has been a hard working and reliable backup at the running back position, but that turns out to not be enough after the addition of Randle. Kendial Lawrence has enough stuff to take away Dunbar’s roster spot.
Tight End: (3) Jason Witten, James Hanna and Gavin Escobar. Don’t rule out a rookie tight end on the practice squad, but this will be the total for the 53 man roster. Escobar will help end the Cowboys problems with red zone scoring.
Wide Receiver: (6) Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Terrance Williams, Dwayne Harris, Danny Coale and Jared Green. Coale shows enough in training camp to supplant the other Cole in a numbers game that doesn’t allow the Cowboys to keep all the receivers they would like to. Jared Green is a surprise receiver that makes the cut. William plays as the second outside receiver with Austin coming into the game as the slot receiver, before the season is over.
Offensive Linemen: (10) Travis Frederick, Tyron Smith, Doug Free, Jermey Parnell, Nate Livings, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Kevin Kowalski, Ronald Leary, Phil Costa and Darion Weems. The David Arkin experiment, whatever that was about, is over and Ryan Cook, good enough to be a starter at center for most of last year, isn’t good enough to make the team this year.
Specialists: (3) Chris Jones-Punter, Dan Bailey-Place Kicker and L.P. Ladouceur-Long Snapper. No surprises here.
Secondary: (10) Will Allen, Brandon Carr, Barry Church, Morris Claiborne, Matt Johnson, Danny McCray, Sterling Moore, Orlando Scandrick, B.W. Webb and J.J. Wilcox. Matt Johnson shows why he was drafted last year and starts at safety alongside Barry Church and Wilcox gets a good amount of playing time.
Defensive Line: (9) Tyrone Crawford, Rob Callaway, Jason Hatcher, Sean Lissemore, Jay Ratliff, Anthony Spencer, DeMarcus Ware, Kyle Wilber and Ben Bass. The Cowboys move on without Josh Brent. Spencer and Ware post record sack numbers and Wilber becomes as a good a backup as Victor Butler ever was.
Linebackers: (6) Alex Albright, Bruce Carter, Sean Lee, Caleb McSurdy, DeVonte Holloman and Justin Durant. Ernie Sims is the odd man out with the Cowboys having too many talented linebackers and not enough slots for them all. Albright shows his versatility by being used as a backup at linebacker and defensive end. Carter and Lee stay healthy and are the team leaders in tackles.
So that’s it, my projection on how the roster will look after OTA’s, mini camp, training camp and five pre-season games. You might not agree with me, but let’s take another look at this at the end of August. I think it will be very close to this.