3 gambles the Cowboys are taking with 53-man roster cuts

The Cowboys are rolling the dice at three important positions.
Aug 19, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Deuce Vaughn (42) escapes a
Aug 19, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Deuce Vaughn (42) escapes a / Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
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3. Interior Defensive Line (IDL)

A case can be made tight end is a bigger gamble with just three TEs on the roster and center is a bigger gamble with just one true center on the roster, but those situations will likely change between now and September 10.

A situation that may not change? The Cowboys’ IDL.

After the Cowboys invested a first-round pick in Mazi Smith, many felt Dallas had finally fixed their issues in the middle and had successfully turned a long-term weakness into a long-term strength. But as many suggested at the time, DTs take time to develop and Smith was an abnormally raw first round IDL.

Growing pains were seen throughout training camp from the rookie and expectations fell back to earth. Slotting in behind the veteran Johnathan Hankins at the 1-tech, Smith looks like an average rotational piece with room to grow.

The Cowboys predictably cut Quinton Bohanna since they rarely keep more than two run-stuffers on the team. While understandable it puts boatloads of pressure on Hankins (who’s struggled staying healthy) and Smith (who’s an inconsistent rookie).

Osa Odighizuwa has looked better each year he’s been in the league and in 2023 is expected to take the next step as the Cowboys’ 3-tech. Behind him Dallas kept Chauncey Golston, Neville Gallimore and the rookie Villami Fehoko.

While the unit looks like a full house on paper, it’s a collection of wild cards. Golston and Odighizuwa are 3-techs who struggle with 2-gap responsibilities inside, Fehoko is a rookie who’s struggled to stay healthy and contribute consistently and Gallimore was one of the worst rated run defenders in the NFL in 2022 (per PFF).

A lot of hope is pinned on Hankins’ health and Smith’s ability to improve, given two of the deadliest running teams in the league (Philadelphia and San Francisco) stand in the way of an NFC championship.

Keep an eye on: Quinton Bohanna.

Gambles are an unavoidable part of the game. It’s picking the right gambles that separate the winners from the losers. Did the Cowboys pick the right gambles?

Only time will tell.

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