Analysis: I believe the Cowboys are playing hardball with Kyle Orton and are ready to move and recoup $3 Million in 2015. Tony Romo is coming off a year with 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and I expect even better numbers in 2014.
Analysis: I think the Cowboys go with four running backs in 2014 if Ryan Williams can stay healthy through camp. The Cowboys are excited to see Randle in year two and think he could be the starter if Murray went down for any period of time.
FBs: (1) J.C. Copeland
Analysis: Dallas really struggled in short yardage last year and the team was forced to sign a fullback mid-way through the season. The real battle here will be Copeland vs Tyler Clutts vs a fourth tight end. I think Copeland will be good enough on special teams to warrant a spot.
Analysis: Despite the talent at the back of the roster at wide receiver, I think Dallas goes light at wide receiver and keeps two wide receivers on their practice squad (Washington and Boyd). I think all five players will be a part of the offense and could see the team grabbing a special teams wide receiver late in the pre-season. I think this is one of the better wide receiver groups in the NFL and it’s talent after Dez Bryant is underrated.
Analysis: This group interests me because after Jason Witten, you have two “Joker” tight ends who Dallas used primarily as blockers in 2013. Will they open up the offense more and let Escobar and Hanna be receivers? Let’s hope so.
Analysis: I would like to see a true battle between Free and Parnell, as I think Parnell should be able to dominate in this scheme, especially in the run game. Whether he can be as consistent as Free in the passing game is my biggest concern. Don’t be surprised if we hear some trade rumors about the Cowboys backup tackles. Both have athletic ability and upside other teams covet. Reminder, rookie Zack Martin could also fill in at right tackle if needed.
Analysis: I think this unit will be one of the most improved units on the team. Why? I think Ronald Leary will be much better in year two as a statrer and the addition of Zack Martin should be a big improvement over Berneadu. Too many times last year Berneadu was the weak link on the offensive line and Martin was probably the most NFL ready offensive lineman in the draft. The signing of Nwaneri was basically a “free look” and someone to help get the team through pre-season games. Nwaneri is a much better pass-protector than run player at this point in his career.
C: (1) Travis Frederick
Analysis: I think the Cowboys only keep one pure center on the roster. If Frederick were to go down, Berneadu would be his backup, followed by Zack Martin.
Analysis: Tyrone Crawford and Ben Bass are more hybrid DE/DT’s who can provide flexibility on the defensive line. Rookie DeMarcus Lawrence will play on third downs to start the season and will try to crack the starting lineup at some point. Anthony Spencer will likely start the season on the PUP and will not count against the 53 man roster, although you shouldn’t expect him to play much or at all in 2014.
Analysis: Other than Melton and McClain, I’m not sure anyone else is a lock to make the roster at defensive tackle. Bishop is an upgrade over Nick Hayden and has more long-term upside. Okye has an undisclosed medical condition, but the team hopes he’s ready to go for training camp.
Analysis: I group these two together because we might see a lot of mixing and matching with this unit throughout the season. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Wilber as the starter on the strong side and Holloman starting in the middle. Will Smith makes the team because of his special teams ability. This is a spot that the Cowboys may address after training camp cuts to see what else is out there. This group is far from settled.
Analysis: The cornerback unit might have some of the best battles to watch for camp. From all accounts and going off their 2013 seasons, Scandrick is the team’s best cornerback and is trying to fend off the sixth overall pick in Morris Claiborne. At the back end of the unit, Webb, Mitchell, Sterling Moore, and Tyler Patmon are all fighting for one or two spots. I have a feeling that the team will be shopping one of those cornerbacks to teams because there is a lot of talent here. Don’t count out Tyler Patmon. He got the attention of a few coaches in Mini-Camp and OTA’s.
Analysis: Barry Church is locked in at the strong safety spot and I actually believe J.J. Wilcox would be his backup if he went down. Don’t be shocked if we see Jakar Hamilton as the opening day starter at free safety as he has had a fantastic off-season. I was tempted to add Ahmad Dixon to the list for his special team prowess, but I will say he makes the practice squad, assuming there are no injuries within this unit. Wouldn’t it be fun to see Matt Johnson healthy for once? He’s one of the players I am most excited to see in training camp and in pre-season.
Analysis: No surprises here, as the Cowboys possess one of the top kickers and long snappers in the league. The Cowboys aren’t 100% locked into Chris Jones as the team’s punter, but they are familiar with him and there’s no real competition on the roster.