53-Man Roster Projection (Pre-Training Camp)
A quick look at the 53-man team I see the Cowboys entering the season with. (I reserve the right to change my mind post-training camp).
Romo gives the Cowboys the best chance to win any given game. Kitna is getting a little long in the tooth, but still has the arm to make all the throws in the playbook and accepts his role as the backup. McGee has the physical tools to become a successful quarterback; good arm strength, accuracy and mobility. Unfortunately the mental aspect of the game seems to be holding him back.
Barber lost ten pounds this offseason in an attempt to add some more agility and speed to his game. He may still keep his starting job, but will have his touches decreased. Jones gives the Cowboys the best chance to score from anywhere on the field, and will have his carries increased accordingly. Choice deserves more carries, but such is life in the NFL, that there is only one ball to go around. He will keep his role as the third-down back and be the trigger man in the ‘Razorback’ offense. The Cowboys averaged over 5.0-yards-per-carry when Anderson was in the game. He doesn’t offer much with the football in his hands, but because of the other three backs on the roster, he doesn’t have to.
Austin can do it all; across the middle, down field or out on a screen. He is the Cowboys no. 1 receiver, and no. 1 priority to get signed to a long-term contract (which will probably happen around mid-season). Roy Williams isn’t going to be the no. 1 receiver, but he can be a very solid no. 2, and will cause a lot of trouble for opposing defenses in the redzone. Dez Bryant is an incredible athlete. He has the best set of hands on the team, and aside from Austin, is the only other receiver who can make tough, contested catches. Sam Hurd has been reliable when called upon and is a special teams ace. Ogletree is a speed guy that is great with the ball in his hands.
Free will be consistent as the left tackle, and offers an upgrade in pass-protection over Flozell Adams. Barron is a very good insurance policy. Kosier is a consistent and steady performer. Holland is a viable backup. Gurode and Davis are both good players that are plagued with inconsistent performances. Colombo just gets the job done (look past the Vikings game). Brewster, Young and Bright are all players with some good upside, and will force the front office to keep them on the 53-man team.
Witten is what keeps the offense going. When in doubt, Romo looks to 82. Martellus Bennett is an athletic freak. Unfortunately, I believe we may only see his true potential if Witten goes down and Bennett is thrust into the no. 1 role. Phillips was OK last season. He can catch the ball well. His blocking was average, but should improve.
Ratliff is a force against the run and pass. Spears will hold his ground against the run, but does not offer much rushing the quarterback. Olshansky is another two down player, with perhaps a bit more ability than Spears. Hatcher and Bowen are both high-motor players, who love to get in the backfield and cause trouble. Siavii was a solid backup to Ratliff, and will probably hold onto this job over Sean Lissemore due to experience.
James and Brooking are both tackling machines. Neither is great in coverage, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say they are terrible. Lee is a determined player, who can flow sideline to sideline with ease. Williams is another player who needs to get the mental aspect of the game down pat, but has got incredible athletic ability. The coaching staff were high on Hodge coming in last season and will keep him around to see what he can do injury free.
DeMarcus Ware is the best pass-rusher in the game. Spencer is a dynamic player that can take over a game. Butler is a good pass-rusher, but needs to get a hold of the other intricacies of the position. Williams has a great burst off the line and is viewed highly by the coaches. Johnson has got some good pass-rushing moves, and no NFL team can have enough good pass-rushers.
Newman still has a year or two left and is perhaps a little underrated now a days. Jenkins is the best corner on this team and should be a stalwart for years to come. Scandrick lost a bit of confidence last season, which had a negative effect on his play. He started to improve again towards the end of the season, and should be solid in 2010. McCann is a player, who has the speed to make an immediate impact on special teams, and will be able to offer some good play from the dime back position.
Alan Ball may not be an immediate upgrade over Ken Hamlin, but will improve as the season progresses, and should be able to hold down the free safety position. Sensabaugh is a good player, who in my opinion, was affected rather dramatically by the broken thumb he suffered in the week 4 against the Denver Broncos, and his player suffered as a result of this. Owusu-Ansah is another athletic player who needs to show what he can do in pads. I do not think very highly of Watkins, but due to his experience and special teams ability, he probably makes the team. Hamlin is player who didn’t see much of the field in 2009 and is looking to make an impact special teams-wise and push Alan Ball for that starting free safety position.
Buehler has been up and down so far this offseason, but should be able to get it together for the regular season. McBriar is one of the league’s best punters. LaDouceur just gets it done. No mistakes.
Crayton was left off, as I see him being traded sometime before the season.
Bryan McCann beats out Cletis Gordon, because he offers more upside and special teams ability.