Draft and development are the core beliefs of the Dallas Cowboys. They prioritize proper evaluation and want young players to have ample playing time. The aim is to have your young players make more plays and fewer mistakes.
The Cowboys have likely already identified the initial 45-to-48 players on their roster. Churning the bottom of the roster is where the challenge lies.
It was a rough Saturday night for some promising young players who got injured. During preseason, all NFL teams aim to avoid this.
DeMarvion Overshown left early with what's been diagnosed as a torn ACL, so his rookie season is over before it left the ground. Additionally, promising rookie tight end John Stephens -- a standout throughout camp who led Dallas in receiving in Week 1 -- suffered a torn ACL and is out for the year.
My latest roster projection will provide insight into what the Cowboys' final 53 could be. To be upfront, I'll share what I would do and the direction I believe the Cowboys are taking.
Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush
Nothing has changed at the top two spots. Prescott will be Dallas’ starter for an eighth consecutive season. Rush will continue to be his backup.
Practice squad considerations: Will Grier
Running back (3)
Tony Pollard, Rico Dowdle, Deuce Vaughn
The team’s lead running back position is currently taken by none other than Tony Pollard. He is the explosive element of the Cowboy’s offense.
Despite a fumble last week, Rico Dowdle appears to be a suitable candidate for the No. 2 running back job. Dowdle has a violent running style and is reliable in pass protection. He has taken full advantage of his opportunities, though there are still some things he needs to clean up.
The opposing team will have a hard time dealing with Deuce Vaughn, as he poses a significant matchup problem in stretch plays, draws, and even blitz busting.
Practice squad considerations: Malik Davis and Hunter Luepke
Tight end (3)
Jake Ferguson, Luke Schoonmaker, Peyton Hendershot
Jake Ferguson is a tight end who can align in-line or as an H-back. He embraces the dirty work of blocking. He had a year to focus on gaining more bulk and strength through weight training. His physical appearance indicates that he has become stronger and faster.
Schoonmaker is good at blocking runs and has untapped skills in catching passes from his time at Michigan. Considering that Hunter Luepke hasn't demonstrated good blocking skills and has contributed little. It is a possibility for Dallas to keep four.
It's possible that fourth spot was designated for Stephens, but we'll unfortunately never know following his season-ending injury.
Practice squad consideration: Princeton Fant, John Stephens