Cowboys 53-man roster prediction after preseason Week 1

Simi Fehoko, Cowboys. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)
Simi Fehoko, Cowboys. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images) /
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Micah Parsons, Cowboys. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images) /

Linebacker (6):

Micah Parsons
Leighton Vander Esch
Anthony Barr
Jabril Cox
Luke Gifford
Devin Harper

Despite a less-than-thrilling reaction from the fans when his name was announced as the pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Micah Parsons turned into the leader of the Cowboys defense in a hurry last season. He showed versatility as he moved from linebacker to the EDGE and performed at a high level no matter where he lined up.

Parsons took home the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award after recording 13 sacks and forcing three fumbles. He’s expecting even more from himself this season and it’s hard to bet against him.

In the starting lineup next to him will be Leighton Vander Esch, another former Round 1 selection. LVE was great as a rookie but faded out due in large part to injuries. He wasn’t retained on his fifth-year option but returned anyway on a one-year deal this offseason — and has looked better than ever.

As for the third linebacker, there will be a battle between veteran Anthony Barr and Jabril Cox. Barr recently signed as a free agent after spending eight seasons in Minnesota and Cox spent his rookie campaign injured. Cox is more of a speedy linebacker who can fly around the field, whereas Barr plays with power and can rush the passer when needed.

Luke Gifford makes the team since he’s a special teams stud and Devin Harper was a late-round pick who kept finding himself around the ball against Denver. He sticks around but when Damone Clark gets back to full health, his status could be up in the air.

**Damone Clark on IR to start the season