So, here we are, in the early days of May. The first wave and subsequent secondary wave of free agency is pretty much complete. The draft has come and gone. Rookie camps are beginning. Football, like a blossoming flower in the spring, is just starting to get ready to bloom. What better time than to give a shot at guessing who will be lining up across from the Midgets (oops, I mean Giants) September 8th at 7:30 PM CST in Cowboys Stadium.
This is how I envision the final 53 man roster looking when that time comes. Beside each player, you will see a number by their name. This is an indicator of the position on the team that I believe each player is at currently. So, for example, when you see the number one next to Jason Witten’s name, that means that he is the best player on the roster. Also the number beside the position name will indicate how many players at that position I think we will keep.
Welcome to May’s version of your 2013 Dallas Cowboys:
Tony Romo – 3
Dec 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) talks with Kyle Orton (18) on the sidelines against the New Orleans Saints at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
– So much gets said about Romo. Without question, the most polarizing player on this team and possibly in the league. Definitively a top ten quarterback.
Kyle Orton – 17
– Orton’s true worth is the piece of mind that if Romo were to miss a game or two, all would not be lost.
RUNNING BACK (4)
DeMarco Murray – 8
– It’s all right there for Murray to take the giant leap to stardom, he just has to stay on the field.
Joseph Randle – 19
– A complete back who provides multiple options out of the backfield and insurance in case Murray cannot break his injury prone rap.
Lance Dunbar – 43
– Provides the abilities of a “change of pace” type back and can also contribute on special teams.
Lawrence Vickers – 51
– With the Cowboys wanting to go to more multiple tight end sets, his position on the team is far from secure.
WIDE RECEIVERS (6)
Dez Bryant – 4
Oct 23, 2011; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys receiver Miles Austin (19) prior to the game with Dez Bryant (88) against the St Louis Rams at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
– The next great 88 in Cowboy blue. His numbers have increased every year he’s been in the league and may continue to do so in 2013.
Miles Austin – 16
– Explosive when healthy, this number could fall further if he continues his injury issues prior to the season starting. Austin is teetering on extinction in Big D.
Dwayne Harris – 18
– Took a huge leap forward in 2012 but unfortunately may need to fight for playing time thanks to the draft choices and offensive philosophy changes made in the offseason.
Terrance Williams – 24
– Possibly will be groomed to be the replacement for Austin. Tall, physical and willing to fight for the ball.
Cole Beasley – 33
– Showed flashes of ability to be a reliable slot receiver but will have to scrap for playing time in the new offense.
Danny Coale – 49
– Likely will need a big camp to make the squad unless he can prove to be a viable special teams option in the pre-season.
TIGHT ENDS (3)
Jason Witten – 1
Dec 16, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten (82) scores a second quarter touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
– The consummate professional. A top three tight end in the league, even in his 11th season. A pro’s pro and Romo’s most trusted safety valve.
Gavin Escobar – 27
– Comes in with very high expectations and needs to prove his second round draft status was worth passing on interior line help.
James Hanna – 34
– Had a solid rookie year and will look to build upon that as Dallas shifts into utilizing more dual tight end formations.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)
Tyron Smith – 7
– The building block for the line. By far, the best player on the unit.
Travis Frederick – 13
– Ready to come in and start from day one. Along with Smith, the foundation of the line for many years to come.
Nate Livings – 23
– Sandwiching him between Smith and Frederick should help him have a more productive year. Was clearly the Cowboys second best lineman in 2012.
Phil Costa – 26
– Injuries robbed him of almost the entire 2012 season. Should get plenty of opportunity to win the other starting guard spot.
Jeremy Parnell – 35
– Unless the unnamed player below is a tackle, Parnell would look to be the third different opening day right tackle in as many years for Dallas.
Mackenzy Bernadeau – 38
– Had a very sub par year last season and needs to improve quickly or he could be released.
Someone not currently on the roster – 45
– If the Cowboys do indeed, remove Doug Free from the equation, they will bring in a veteran to compete with Parnell for the starting right tackle spot at the very least.
Ronald Leary – 50
– Still probably a year away and very raw. Should win a roster spot though based on talent alone.
Kevin Kowalski – 52
Darrion Weems – 53
– Kowalski and Weems represent the last two to make the roster and do so solely based on the need to keep ten offensive linemen and the fact that they are young and will have time to continue to develop.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)
DeMarcus Ware – 2
Nov 18, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne (24) – defensive end Anthony Spencer (93) – linebacker DeMarcus Ware (94) – defensive tackle Jason Hatcher (97) – linebacker Bruce Carter (54) – nose tackle Jay Ratliff (90) and cornerback Brandon Carr (39) on the line of scrimmage before a play during the game against the Cleveland Browns at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys beat the Browns 23-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
– One of the few sure to be future Hall of Fame players on the roster, Ware will be moving from OLB to DE but should maintain his almost 14 sack per year performance.
Anthony Spencer – 9
– The only starting defensive linemen under the age of 30, it will be interesting to see if Dallas signs him to a long-term deal to get some cap relief.
Jay Ratliff – 12
– Another Cowboy on the edge of no longer being on the team. Jerry has raved about him all offseason but Ratliff needs to prove it on the field.
Jason Hatcher – 14
– The most consistent linemen for the team last year, Hatcher has become one of the vocal leaders on this team.
Sean Lissemore – 28
– Best suited for backup duty, Lissemore was thrust into too much playing time as the line was decimated by injuries, including his own.
Tyrone Crawford – 31
– Needs to show improvement this year as a likely backup swing option between Ware and Spencer. Did not register a sack in all of 2012.
Kyle Wilber – 41
– Much like Bruce Carter the year before, last year was essentially a redshirt year for Wilber who will be asked to make the switch from OLB to DE.
Ben Bass – 48
– Ratliff’s uncertainty makes Bass all the more important. I feel his is the most talented of the many options to win that last line roster spot.
Sean Lee – 5
Jun 12, 2012; Irving, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee (50) and Bruce Carter (54) take a break during minicamp at Dallas Cowboys headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
– Lee is like the defensive equivalent of Murray, only thing holding him back from stardom is the injuries.
Bruce Carter – 10
– Carter was having a huge impact on the defense last year before the season ending injury. Hopefully he continues to progress to the next level.
Justin Durant – 29
– Likely to be the favorite for the third linebacker spot but not a lock as he will need to fight off Sims and Albright
Ernie Sims – 39
Alex Albright – 40
– Sims played really well last year when it seemed every Cowboys linebacker was done for the year with injury as did Albright so theoretically, back up roles should be in order for both players. Albright is also a special teams ace.
DeVonte Holloman – 46
Caleb McSurdy – 47
– Both guys should make the cut if only to provide bodies on special teams. Both are hugely unknown commodities as Holloman is a rookie and McSurdy missed all of 2012 due to injury.
Brandon Carr – 6
Nov 4, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr (39) tips a pass intended for Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White (84) during the second half at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons defeated the Cowboys 19-13. Mandatory Credit: Josh D. Weiss-USA TODAY Sports
– The Cover-2 schemes that the secondary will employ this year fit Carr perfectly. We should see a slight uptick in his production from last year.
Morris Claiborne – 11
– All the natural talent anyone could ask for and a very solid rookie campaign, the future is exciting with Claiborne.
Orlando Scandrick – 20
– Another player who just needs to find a way to stay healthy and could be on the brink of release, 2013 will be a big year for Scandrick to prove he belongs in Big D.
Sterling Moore – 36
B.W. Webb – 37
– Moore and Webb are very similar in stature. While Moore is best suited for outside coverage, Webb could be the not so eventual replacement for Scandrick if he continues to falter. He also looks every bit the part of a dual threat in the return game.
Barry Church – 21
– Church had a breakout camp last year, only to miss the final twelve games due to an Achilles tear. How he comes back from that remains to be seen.
Matt Johnson – 22
– Another “redshirt” Cowboy, the coaching staff really seems to love this kid. He will be given every opportunity to start in Week 1.
Will Allen – 25
– Proven veteran leadership is what Allen brings to the table. Should definitely be in the mix for a starting spot given the other choices on the team.
J.J. Wilcox – 30
– At worst will contribute in dime packages however just as easily could be the week one starter. How his training camp goes will be interesting to watch.
Danny McCray – 32
– Special teams star who was asked to do too much last year. Provides good depth to position but should not be an every down player.
SPECIAL TEAMS (3)
Dan Bailey – 15
Dec 16, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey (5) kicks the game winning field goal in overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys won 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
– Already one of the best kickers in the game, has only missed seven field goals in two years, four of which came from 50+ yards.
L.P. Ladouceur – 42
– Consistent long-snapper and special teams producer, he has a role and he fits it perfectly, nothing more, nothing less.
Chris Jones – 44
– Won the job last year from long-time option Mat McBriar but then got injured and played in only four games last year. Should be the punter in 2013 unless he looses a camp battle to a free agent.
PRACTICE SQUAD (8)
Nick Stephens – QB
Anthony Armstrong – WR
Phillip Tanner – RB
Andre Smith – TE
Ray Dominguez – G
Rob Callaway – DL
Nick Hayden – DL
Brandon Underwood – CB
So there you have it, a quite preliminary look at what your 2013 Dallas Cowboys should look like. Personally, I am hoping for a couple of additions, namely a veteran offensive tackle, a pass rush defensive end and last, but certainly not least, Charles Woodson. We shall see what Dallas decides to do with their limited free cap space however. Feel free to leave your thoughts on the player rankings, ideas for tweaks to the roster or who you might like to see brought in.