Comparing Cowboys Roster Predictions: How Many Rookies Make It?
After our first round of roster predictions, we compared our thoughts to those of Dallas Morning News reporter Todd Archer. With another projection comes another comparison. First, take a look at our predictions:
First for the similarities:
- Quarterback, running back, and the specialty positions are all fairly easy to predict (although K David Buehler may eventually have company), and are thus identical between us.
- Archer joins us as one of the few to believe six wide receivers (Austin, Williams, Bryant, Crayton, Ogletree, and Hurd) will all make the final roster.
- After “hating” on fullback Deon Anderson in his first projection, Archer now agrees with us that Anderson will make the final cut. This results in his tight end predictions conforming with ours as well.
- Shockingly, we are both predicting the same nine offensive linemen to make the 53-man roster, including the release of OT Robert Brewster. We think the final two spots come down to Brewster, rookie Sam Young, and guard Travis Bright.
- We both envision the Cowboys retaining four inside linebackers (Bradie James, Keith Brooking, Jason Williams, and Sean Lee).
Here are the differences:
- We have one extra defensive lineman (Marcus Dixon) making the cut.
We both agree on rookie seventh-rounder Sean Lissemore having a difficult time making the squad (although we are rooting for him). The issue is that the Cowboys may not have a true backup nose tackle behind Ratliff if Junior Siavii is let go. If Lissemore can prove he is up for the task of playing inside, he could take Siavii’s spot. That will be a battle to monitor during training camp.
Archer is projecting just six defensive linemen to make the final roster. However, Coach Phillips loves to rotate defensive linemen, so we believe there could easily be a seventh defensive line spot available. We see it going to Marcus Dixon, a player is improving vastly from year to year. We really don’t think there is any way the Cowboys will be able to keep him off of the roster this season. For more on Dixon, check out our interview with the up-and-coming defensive end.
- We believe the Cowboys will keep a fifth outside linebacker (Curtis Johnson).
The Cowboys are in the business of retaining the best football players possible. Johnson is a highly underrated pass-rusher who could act as a security blanket for the Cowboys. Without him, the team would be relying on inexperienced second-year players Victor Butler and Brandon Williams to be the primary backups to Demarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. We wrote about this scenario in a Mailbag.
The development of B. Williams will be huge for Dallas. If he shows he is capable of being a reliable backup to Ware and Spencer, Johnson’s chances of making the team decline. B. Williams was superb in OTAs, but we still like Johnson’s skill set.
- Archer believes the Cowboys will keep the standard five cornerbacks, while we believe it could be just four.
Only four cornerbacks in this day and age? The reason behind our prediction is that the Cowboys will have two safeties on the roster (Alan Ball and rookie Akwasi Owusu-Ansah) who will be able to play cornerback. In a way, the team will really have six cornerbacks on the roster even if they only list four at the position.
Archer also believes the Cowboys will keep two rookies: Jamar Wall and undrafted free agent Bryan McCann. McCann is actually a player we predicted the Cowboys might select late in the draft.
Although we still have Dallas keeping four cornerbacks, we have substituted McCann for Cletis Gordon.
Gordon’s opportunity to make the final cut may have shrunk once the Cowboys upgraded the return spots with Dez Bryant and AOA (Gordon was, and still is, a sleeper to return kickoffs). McCann has outplayed rookie cornerback Jamar Wall thus far in off-season work. He seems to be more athletic with a better nose for the football (although a worse tackler).
- Archer is predicting that six (SIX!) safeties to make the 53-man roster. We only see Dallas retaining five.
Archer has all five of our players making the cut, including (interestingly) undrafted rookie Barry Church out of Toledo. Church has really impressed the coaches thus far and we think he will take Patrick Watkins spot.
Archer sees Watkins still making the cut, saying “Watkins is the newcomer to this spot from the first prediction. His special teams ability makes him too valuable to leave off, especially woith Ball’s time to be limited with a more prominent defensive role.”
We don’t think special teams play alone will be enough to save Watkins, particularly with players like Jason Williams, Barry Church, Michael Hamlin, Marcus Dixon, and Curtis Johnson able to fill in.