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Dallas Cowboys 53-Man Roster Projection | The DC Times

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Dallas Cowboys 53-Man Roster Projection

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Jonathan Bales
With roster cuts on the way, I wanted to take a final stab at the Cowboys’ 53-man roster.  There are a lot of tough decisions for Jason Garrett this season, making the 53-man roster even tougher to project than in other years.  Garrett has already shown the ability to make gutsy calls, sitting or cutting underperforming players.  The release of Andre Gurode was a recent surprise.  Don’t be shocked to see more unconventional moves in the next few days.
1. Tony Romo
2. Jon Kitna
3. Stephen McGee
Analysis: This is one of the few positions which is easy to predict.  Romo, Kitna and McGee will enter the season as the Cowboys’ three quarterbacks.  McGee has improved tremendously this preseason, capped off with a 21-for-25 performance last night.  He has convinced me he is, at worst, the backup quarterback of the future in Dallas.
1. Felix Jones
2. Tashard Choice
3. DeMarco Murray
4. Phillip Tanner
Analysis: Felix Jones is the clear cut No. 1 back, and for good reason.  Expect Garrett to utilize Jones far more this season, as the tailback is physically and mentally prepared for a heavy workload.
With Murray and Tanner’s lack of experience, I think you’ll see Choice stay on the team.  It doesn’t appear as though he will be traded, and you can’t release a player who projects to be your No. 2 running back (to start the season, anyway).  Choice’s possible increase in touches would justify his lack of special teams play.
Jerry Jones recently stated Tanner is a lock to make the roster, and that’s the right move.  If the ‘Boys placed him on the practice squad, he would be picked up in a heartbeat.  There is only a slight chance that the Cowboys enter the season with a running back combination different from this one.
1. Shaun Chapas
Analysis: This position is perhaps the most difficult to predict this season.  You could make a case for Chapas, Chris Gronkowski and Jason Pociask.  Gronkowski has experience in the offense and offers some value as a receiver out of the backfield.  Pociask gives the team flexibility with his ability to play on offense and defense, and we know Garrett values versatility quite a bit.  Still, I think Chapas will be the guy to do his lead-blocking ability and the fact that Dallas spent a draft pick on him.
1. Jason Witten
2. Martellus Bennett
3. John Phillips
Analysis: The two questions here are 1) Has Martin Rucker done enough to make the roster? and 2) Will Phillips overtake Bennett as the No. 2 tight end?  I vote no to both.  Rucker doesn’t offer enough upside to keep a fourth tight end, and Bennett is still one of the most underrated players on the team.  In my 2010 Tight End Grades, I once again showed how effective he is as a blocker.  I actually think he’s superior to Witten in that department.
1. Miles Austin
2. Dez Bryant
3. Kevin Ogletree
4. Dwayne Harris
5. Jesse Holley
Analysis: Austin and Bryant are options 1A and 1B this season.  I think you’ll see them receive a similar number of targets.  Ogletree and Harris are battling for slot receiver duties.  I think Garrett will side with the veteran to begin the season, but I predict Harris will overtake him as some point this year.  The fifth receiver spot is still up in the air.  Promising undrafted rookie Raymond Radway may have had a legitimate shot at making the team before breaking his leg last night.  I think Holley’s evolution as a pass-catcher and added special teams value has his roster spot safe.
1. Doug Free
2. Tyron Smith
3. Jermey Parnell
4. Sam Young
Analysis: Free and Smith are obviously locks.  Parnell has surprised me in the preseason and I’m surprised more people aren’t talking about him.  I think he deserves to be the primary backup offensive tackle.  He has played on the left side so far, but he would probably move to right tackle if either Free or Smith went down (with Smith kicking to left tackle in the event of an injury to Free).
1. Kyle Kosier
2. Phil Costa
3. Bill Nagy
4. David Arkin
5. Montrae Holland
Analysis: The first four players are secure, I think, with Holland’s competition coming primarily from center Kevin Kowalski.  Kowalski has a shot since Costa is down right now, but don’t forget Kosier can move to center.  Thus, I think you’ll see the Cowboys side with Holland’s experience due to the lack thereof from Nagy and Arkin.

1. Jay Ratliff
2. Marcus Spears
3. Kenyon Coleman
4. Jason Hatcher
5. Josh Brent
6. Sean Lissemore

Analysis: The big question here is whether or not Igor Olshansky will get cut.  I think it happens, although I mentioned in my Defensive End Training Camp Battle article that he could theoretically get some snaps at the nose.  Nonetheless, there are cheaper options on the roster who can probably provide more pressure than Olshansky, including Lissemore and even Clifton Geathers.  I think you’ll see Dallas try to sneak Geathers onto the practice squad, though.
1. DeMarcus Ware
2. Anthony Spencer
3. Victor Butler
4. Alex Albright
Analysis: Will the Cowboys cut Brandon Williams?  He has underperformed and Rob Ryan has no loyalty to him, so it looks likely at this point.  The only thing Williams has going for him is the lack of sensational prospects behind him, but I still think Albright offers more upside.
Will Butler push Spencer for the starting job?  Either way, expect Butler to play more snaps.
1. Bradie James
2. Sean Lee
3. Keith Brooking
4. Kenwin Cummings
Analysis: The only thing saving Brooking, in my opinion, is the fact that rookie Bruce Carter will start the season on PUP.  Otherwise, I think you’d see the veteran get released.  Cummings will probably beat out Orie Lemon for the final inside linebacker spot since the latter player has a hamstring injury.
1. Mike Jenkins
2. Terence Newman
3. Orlando Scandrick
4. Bryan McCann
5. Josh Thomas
6. Mario Butler
Analysis: Most people have Alan Ball making the team due to his ability to play both cornerback and safety, but what is the point of retaining versatility if it comes in the form of a player who is mediocre at both positions?  Ball might be superior to Thomas and Butler right now, but he offers much less upside.
Thomas and Butler are far from locks, however.  Thomas has been dealing with a hamstring injury and Butler’s undrafted status means the Cowboys won’t feel like they “wasted” a draft pick if they cut him (although picks are already sunk costs and should really have no bearing on future decisions, in my opinion).  Either way, I think six cornerbacks will make the roster due to the abundance of ailments affecting the players at the position.
1. Gerald Sensabaugh
2. Abram Elam
3. Barry Church
4. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah
Analysis: This position is very hard to project after Sensy and Elam.  Church and AOA are battling Danny McCray and Andrew Sendejo for the final two roster spots, although five safeties could make the team.  In my opinion, Church is safe due to better performance at the safety position than the other three.  McCray and Sendejo offer special teams ability, and the value of Owusu-Ansah’s return skills is diminished with plenty of other return men on the squad.  Still, I’m just not sure Dallas is ready to give up on him, although I may just be naive due to my fascination with AOA.  Sendejo is practice squad material.
1. Mat McBriar
2. L.P. Ladouceur
3. Shayne Graham
4. David Buehler
Analysis: This won’t be popular to most of you, but I think there’s a legitimate shot the Cowboys keep two kickers.  Garnering touchbacks is more valuable than most realize, and Buehler is the only kicker on the roster who can do that on a consistent basis.  Unfortunately, he can’t kick straight. . .kind of a big deal for a placekicker.  Graham, Dave Rayner and Dan Bailey are all battling to kick field goals.  It would be tough to enter the season with a rookie kicker, and Rayner may have blown his shot with an 0-for-2 performance last night.  Thus, I think Graham is the guy.
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14 Responses to Dallas Cowboys 53-Man Roster Projection

  1. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Cummings over Lemon – interesting?

    Also, there have been more than a few roster cuts on other teams that are of note: McKenzie (ILB) of the Bucs is better than both Cummings and Lemon. Terrence McGee (CB) cut by the Bills. Looks like Pat Lee (CB) is on the block too…

  2. Mark Watkins says:

    I think that AOA and Josh Thomas making the team and Kevin Kowalski not making the team would be my two biggest surprises from your projected roster. It seems like the former two haven’t done much of anything to impress and that Kowalski has performed pretty well for a UDFA playing against starters.

  3. Vince_Grey says:

    I’ve already made my feelings about the dual kicker deal well known, but I’ll add that my opinion of Garrett, rising several points this preseason with some ballsy moves, would take a significant dip if he pulls a wimp stunt like that. I’ll also add that Jason played for Jimmy, who made free agent rookie Lin Elliot his kicker (Yeah, just ONE kicker) in `92 and the Cowboys still managed to go 13-3 and win the SB, so I don’t think the idea of a rookie kicker scares him all that much. Or at least it shouldn’t, anyway.

    As for the rest, I have no major issues. FB is a tough one, as none of them stand out and none of them stink. I do hate the idea of keeping a guy simply because you drafted him over a guy you signed as a FA. There has to be a better way.

    Damn shame about Radway, busting his leg with 3 ticks on the game clock like that, though in the long run it might turn out for the best. If he’s on IR for the season, he’s safe from other teams and has a year to get well and get better. Hang tough kid. See you 2012.

    We never got around to the Viking game, but McCann had one of those “shoulder block” half-ass tackles, didn’t wrap up, and the guy ran for a lot of yards, so McCann’s on my crap list at the moment. Yeah, he’ll make the team but it still steams me every time I see a defender fail to wrap up. I swear I would pull a guy for that nonsense every time, right then and there, and ream him a new hole on TV, just to embarrass him, if nothing else.

  4. Rick says:

    Nice job, but I think you’re off base in assuming Dwayne Harris will be the slot receiver over Ogletree in the near future. He literally took no snaps with the first team offense this preseason, even with Austin hurt.

  5. starred4life says:

    I’d be a little surprised if Owusu-Ansah made the squad (unless he can kick a touch-back). He’s looked awful in the preseason. I saw some stats from another poster (meaning I have no idea where they came from) that had Sendejo with the most tackles of any safety on the roster this preseason (both assisted and solo). And the number was a lot higher than the next guy on the list.

  6. JJ says:

    I’d eliminate Young, AOA, Chapas (keep on PS), Graham and would add Kowalski, Geathers (Jerry said they are going with 7 on DLine), McCray, and Pocaiask (better with uncertainty around Bennett),

    I love your move with Ball and couldn’t agree more. I think Jerry loves his size but he’s mediocre. I’d like to see more of Butler and I’m not a McCann fan. Reading the roster, my immediate reactions are:

    I hope Free/Smith don’t get hurt…
    The group of 5 WR just doesn’t get me jazzed (Is Ogletree really a 3rd WR? Does Holly’s game against scrubs mean he can be a difference maker?)
    The Defensive front 7 scares me as they’ve been blown off the ball and simply cannot create pressure rushing 4.

    I’m hopeful for that young OLine and the crop of RBs. If there was a way to trade Igor and Choice for a pass rushing DL or a WR that could step in should Dez or Austin get hurt it would be a blessing. I also believe there will be changes once the waivers come out from other teams.

  7. Scott says:

    I guarantee you Ball makes the team, they need the depth at corner where he is better than he is at safety. Garrett and Jerry have both talked up Ball’s performance in camp and preseason and there’s no way they are going to cut him.

    McCray will also make the roster, he’s perhaps the top special teams ace and I think DeCamillis insists he has a place on the team, plus he’s carved out a niche for himself in the dime package and can be a role player on defense.

  8. john coleman says:

    Who knows for sure, but 3:30 will be here soon.

    RB-OK-4-Know way would Tanner clear waivers and he is solid on ST. Murray is showing flashes in very limited touches and I suspect he is a touch heavy of his ideal playing weight because of inactivity.
    FB-1-Chapas by default. Everyone else is completely lackluster. Maybe Greenhouse makes the PS.
    TE-OK-3-Deepest position on the team. I will join JB on the Bennett bandwagon.
    WR-OK-5- Holley has earned his spot by making the most of his opportunites and on ST. Harris is our punt return guy. The only thing that is unfair is that Manny has caught everything thrown his way. I’m just not sure he has upside. However if he does we may have a 6 WR surprise. Also I hate the injury to Radway, but being able to stash him on IR saved us a tough decision.
    OT-?-3- I’m just not sure that Young has any upside at all. I would cut him in favor of a waiver wire pickup. Parnell is another story, as he is still very raw with great athleticism. A year with the strenght coach and Houck will be huge.
    OG/C-6- I made room for Kowalski by cutting Young. I’m still not sure if Holland makes the team. If he’s with us week 1 his salary is guaranteed and he has certainly not outperformed anybody else. I do think Kowalski acquitted himself very well in a less than ideal situation. If his listed size at 6-4 is accurate he should be able to add strength and weight for the future. I DO NOT feel he would clear waivers.
    DL-6/7-I think Igor is definitely gone. If he makes this team, I am seriously concerned with our DL talent. The /7 is dependent on how they feel about Geathers. He has size that is hard to find. I’m not sure how they feel about his though. His production has been modest to this point.
    OLB-OK-4-A UDFA switching positions has shown up more than a 3rd year guy. Enough said.
    ILB-4/5- I would rate Lemon over Cummings, but I’m not sure of the injury situation. ST play is not enough to keep one over the other. The /5 is in case they go long here and cut elsewhere.
    CB-OK-6-I belive I would still go with Ball over Thomas/Butler. I like Butler over Thomas at this point. I will agree with JB, that Ball is only slighlty better, if that. So far he has been only mediocre. They might even go with 7 here, keeping Ball as the FS backup. Let’s hope that’s not the case.
    S-4- Out with AOA, and keep McCray. AOA still seems hesitant too me in all areas of his game. Speed is the only thing he has, but doesn’t play to it. He actually looks scared on returns.
    Specialists-3-Booming kickoffs is not enough to warrant keeping 2 kickers. Jumpy is still too inconsistent going into his 3rd season. Graham is short legged and his salary will be guaranteed if he is a week 1 guy. Give me Bailey, at least he has a reason to be inconsistent.

    2 questions gang- 1. How many guys are we allowed on the PS under the new CBA? 2. What is the injury and it’s extent to Kai Forbath?

    Sorry for the book.

  9. Vince_Grey says:

    Well, it appears, at least for now, that Garrett has decided to stick with the ridiculous dual kicker idea. However, he did go with the rookie as the primary FG guy, proving that, like Jimmy, Garrett has no fear of putting rookies in important spots.

    Very refreshing after years of Wade coddling vets despite less-than-stellar play from them.

    Still, I feel this move is less about either man’s ability or inability to power kickoffs than Garrett’s lack of faith in either as a consistent FG maker. I think as soon as (if) Bailey shows himself to a competent kicker, Buehler is history and maybe Dallas adds that 4th inside LB they need for depth.

    This is a risky move. Like QB’s, if you have more than one starter, you really have none, and it’s tough to say, “You’re my guy, kid. Now go make this 50-yarder, against the Giants, in NY, to win the game.” if you have another kicker standing there as a backup.

    I still believe you go with one guy and live with the results until he proves he can’t do the job.

    On another point, very surprised they cut Thomas the CB. Thought he had a pretty solid camp all thing’s considered. I know they’ll try to slip him past waivers and onto the practice squad, but I see that as risky. 50-50 shot. I’m okay with keeping Ball around however, as he’s the only “big” corner we have available. Not the most talented kid around, but at least he has size and experience.

    Olshansky is officially history. Thank God. Amazing how many other “experts” on other sites, commenting on his departure, are oblivious to Igor’s incredibly bad play last season and this preseason. They see this as a money saving cap issue or a personality conflict with Rob.

    No fullback? I’m old school enough to say we really need a FB, but then again, none of them wowed me in the least. Still, we need someone. Probably one or two make the PS.

  10. Vince_Grey says:

    Interesting development- Dallas, supposedly with a weak secondary, had not one, but two players who couldn’t make our roster immediately snapped up by other teams: The Jets grabbed Sendejo (A surprise. Figured he’s get through waivers and land on the PS) and Carolina signed Josh Thomas (No shock here at all.).

    My thinking is, if our castoffs are so coveted, then doesn’t that speak well to the players we have on the squad? If this was still Wade’s team, I would just think he favored vets over rooks, but that isn’t Garrett’s way, so unless our coaches are incompetent talent evaluators, we would seem to have some decent talent in our defensive backfield, right? If not, then what am I missing here?

    On other news, we signed a FB named Fiammetta. A 6-0, 242 pounder from Syracuse. Sound familiar? it should. Those are very close to Moose Johnston’s physical stats and he played at Syracuse as well. Can lightning strike twice?

    We also cut Holland (Good) and signed ex-skin Derrick Dockery. Not sure about this one. The Skin’s haven’t exactly had a dominant O-line in forever, and so signing one of their cast-offs doesn’t wow me at all. I understand he’s just a veteran backup, but still. Is this the best we can find?

    Hope everyone has a great and wonderful Labor Day. Me? I gotta work.

  11. john coleman says:

    VG-Just a thought, but maybe Rex is hoping to find out what Rob has installed for them. According to the Cowboys site Rob hadn’t put anything in yet, but who really knows. Also Sendejo had the best tackling stats of all the DBs in preseason. Maybe Rex was looking for one more hitter.

    As far as Thomas and Carolina- I think Carolina is pretty bad at CB. I’m thinking just a depth move.

    I do agree though that it says something when every year we have castoffs picked up by other teams and they stick. It could be that we actually have a good scouting department and that we have not necessarily listened to them .

    I want to say again that win, lose, or draw, 8-8 or 12-4, I still like the direction we are heading. I am sooo…. glad we are riding ourselves of fatdonkey, underachieving, overpaid, dead weight. We already have shown more potential in the running game than we have in years.

    I do feel that the D IS AND WILL BE A WORK IN PROGRESS UNTIL WEEK 4 OR 5. I believe the guys will be that long before they trust their responsibilites in the system. The lack of an offseason really hurt us in regard to the new D.

  12. JJ says:

    I really like Garrett and like that there are no sacred cows. I read Randy Galloway wondering why Garrett has not revamped the D like he has the offense and frankly, he doesn’t have the pieces.

    I’m still far from sold on Ball and McCann and hope losing Thomas (and at least we kept Bulter on PS) is not a regret.

    Frankly, if the DLine is just a “run stopping” line, it really puts pressure on the LBs. I am rooting for Spencer and Lee but it’s “go time” for both. A lackluster year and this could be Spencer’s last season and Lee just needs to shed blocks…in space he’s great but he gets mauled at attack.

    All of those years of spending first round picks on the defense, outside of Ware, sure does not seem to be paying dividends. I agree with some of the previous comments that the past drafts (09 in particular) have hurt the team. I suppose this may be where Garrett’s influence will also be felt because he’s clear on the type of player he wants.

  13. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Every year, Dallas castoffs are gobbled up. Dallas actually does a very good job of talent discovery – development of that talent was lacking under Wade but i think the open competition JG advocates will make that talent better.

    I still think they should’ve taken a flyer on Merriweather…

  14. Vince_Grey says:

    John, if Rex picked up a guy, a rookie free agent no less, in hope of learning some secret game-plan that Rob has planned for the Jets, then he’s either incredibly desperate or really, really, stupid. I like the kid and he probably has some upside, but I really thought he would get through waivers.

    As for Thomas, I agree. I said in my post that it didn’t surprise me in the least that JT got snatched up. If fact, it would have shocked me had he made it through waivers untouched.

    I also agree that our scouting dept does an excellent job bringing in talented rookie free agents. You could argue they do a better job at that than in selecting draft picks. (See: 2009) Those FA rookies may have been at least a small part of the problem with Wade, because he clearly had little use for most rookies other than as special teams fodder.

    Garrett seems anxious to go the other way with this thing, and seems to want to go with the younger guy unless the vet is clearly the better player by a significant margin.

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