Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /home/content/85/8979285/html/wp-includes/post-thumbnail-template.php:1) in /home/content/85/8979285/html/wp-content/plugins/wp-super-cache/wp-cache-phase2.php on line 62
dallas cowboys 53-man roster | The DC Times

The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By

Dallas Cowboys 2011 53-Man Roster: Draft Picks and Free Agents

Jonathan Bales

A few holes on the Cowboys’ roster went unfilled during the draft because the team decided to select the best player available in each spot.  That’s fine, as long as those weaknesses are upgraded via free agency.  I don’t think you’ll see Dallas be overly active in free agency, but I do envision one top player and one solid player coming to Big D.  Free safety and defensive end are the obvious areas of need.

***Note: Those listed in green are free agents signings.  Those in red are rookies.

Dallas Cowboys 2011 53-Man Roster

QB
Tony Romo
Jon Kitna
Stephen McGee

Analysis: Nothing much to dissect here.  There were rumors the Cowboys would have drafted TCU quarterback Andy Dalton if he fell to No. 40 in the draft, but it looks like McGee is safe.  And no, Kitna will not be the starting quarterback in 2011.

RB
Felix Jones
DeMarco Murray
Tashard Choice
Shaun Chapas

Analysis: Marion Barber will be cut within a couple months due to an upcoming bonus.  The Cowboys might look at trading choice (or cutting him outright).  Jason Garrett is not a fan of his because he doesn’t play special teams well.  He does produce at running back, but Murray will be the clear No. 2 option (and perhaps No. 1 within a year or two).

It’s also possible the Cowboys keep two fullbacks.  Chapas is a better lead blocker than Chris Gronkowski, so he is definitely making the team.  The Cowboys don’t need their fullback to be a monster in the receiving game.  I really think Garrett will want to keep two fullbacks, and it could be a reality if the ‘Boys use just one kicker this season.  I think the idea of two fullbacks is horrible, as it would steal a roster spot from a player who could help in the area of offense where football games are won. . .the passing game.  Plus, tight end John Phillips can be used as a fullback in emergencies.

WR
Dez Bryant
Miles Austin
Roy Williams
Kevin Ogletree
Dwayne Harris

Analysis: The ‘Boys could very well carry six receivers, in which case Jesse Holley and Sam Hurd are both options.  I think Hurd will be gone because, despite his special teams value, his upside as a piece in the offense is limited.  Rookie Dwayne Harris is a good special teams player, and if Dallas retains six pass-catchers, Holley would likely make the team ahead of Hurd because of greater upside.  Ogletree is also on the roster bubble because he doesn’t quite fit with the image Garrett is clearly trying to implement on his football team.

TE
Jason Witten
Martellus Bennett
John Phillips

Analysis: The only question here is whether Phillips will surpass Bennett for the No. 2 tight end job.  I think there are ways to get Phillips on the field without severely limiting Bennett’s snaps.  Despite concerns about Bennett’s maturity, he isn’t really a bad guy and he is so much more valuable as a blocker than people realize.

OL
Doug Free
Tyron Smith
Sam Young
Leonard Davis
Kyle Kosier
Robert Brewster
Phil Costa
Andre Gurode
David Arkin
Bill Nagy

Analysis: Projecting the offensive line is difficult.  Davis, Kosier, Brewster and Nagy are all far from certain to make the team.  I think you’ll see the Cowboys re-sign Kosier and retain Davis (even if they cut and re-sign him) because it is doubtful they’re ready to let Costa or Arkin start at guard.  It’s possible they could sign a free agent, and I detailed those players in my 2011 Dallas Cowboys Free Agency Guide.  Davin Joseph, Justin Blalock and Robert Gallery are among the options there.

DL
Jay Ratliff
Stephen Bowen
Cullen Jenkins
Josh Brent
Jason Hatcher
Sean Lissemore

Analysis: My first free agent signing comes with the addition of Cullen Jenkins.  Jenkins is a five-technique player who is far superior to Igor Olshansky.  Olshansky may very well make the team because he doesn’t cost a lot, but why?  He was horrible last season and is extremely limited in what he can do.  Bowen and Hatcher are both free agents, so the ‘Boys could let one of them (probably Hatcher) walk.  If they keep both, I think the Cowboys will retain the upside of Lissemore over the age of Olshansky.

OLB
DeMarcus Ware
Anthony Spencer
Victor Butler
Brandon Williams

Analysis: I don’t think there’s much debate here.  Spencer needs to step up in 2011, and I think Butler will push him for snaps.  Williams’ improvement hasn’t been what the Cowboys wanted, but who is going to challenge him for a roster spot?

ILB
Bradie James
Sean Lee
Keith Brooking
Bruce Carter

Analysis: I think Brooking’s spot on the roster is fine if he isn’t a progress-stopper for Lee and Carter.  Lee should start and Brooking should only play in certain situations.  I really like the idea of Lee and Carter as the nickel linebackers.  It is difficult to keep a No. 3/4 linebacker who doesn’t play special teams, but Brooking’s leadership is worth it.  Leon Williams is gone.

CB
Mike Jenkins
Terence Newman
Orlando Scandrick
Bryan McCann
Alan Ball
Josh Thomas

Analysis: The biggest surprise here is Ball still on the team.  The Cowboys obviously liked Ball’s progress at cornerback in 2009, however, and he can also be thought of as an emergency option at free safety.  My confidence that Ball will make the roster is shaky because six cornerbacks is excessive and the other five are locks, in my opinion.

The only way the Cowboys can release Newman is if they sign a free agent.  With a top free agent free safety a must, I don’t think the ‘Boys will have the funds for a top cornerback like Nnamdi Asomugha or Jonathan Joseph.

S
Michael Huff
Gerald Sensabaugh
Akwasi Owusu-Ansah
Barry Church

Analysis: The Cowboys’ starting free safety is not on the team right now.  There’s obviously a reason Jerry Jones passed on a safety throughout the entire draft, and I think Huff is that reason.  Donte Whitner and Dawan Landry are lower-end options.

Sensabaugh is a free agent, although I think the Cowboys would like to re-sign him.  He may test the free agent market, but the abundance of free agent safeties makes it unlikely he’ll find the deal he is seeking.  He could be in Dallas for one more season.

I think Barry Church and Danny McCray will fight for the final safety spot.  Neither is ready to start, but Church possesses more upside and better coverage skills, in my view.

Don’t count out undrafted players DeAndre McDaniel (Clemson) and Deunta Williams (UNC).  I think they’d actually take Ball’s roster spot as opposed to that of a fellow safety.

Specialists
David Buehler
Kris Brown
Mat McBriar
L.P. Ladouceur

Analysis: Will Garrett “save” a roster spot by either cutting Buehler or retaining him as the sole kicker?  I don’t think Garrett will want to experience the Buehler field goal circus again, but I do think he realizes the value of Buehler’s touchbacks.  Even with the new kickoff rule, Buehler’s ability to kick the ball through the end zone will be worth a ton.  Give him a year to work on his field goals behind a player like Brown (who is already on the offseason roster).  David Akers is also reportedly an option.

Notable Cuts/Left Unsigned
OT Marc Colombo
RB Marion Barber
DE Igor Olshansky
FB Chris Gronkowski
G Montrae Holland
S Danny McCray
WR Jesse Holley
WR Teddy Williams
DE Marcus Spears
LB Leon Williams
WR Sam Hurd
OT Alex Barron

Analysis: Yes. Yes. Yes.  Colombo and Barber gone.  The Cowboys may miss Barber’s pass protection in 2011, but they missed Colombo’s pass protection in 2010.  I honestly believe the Cowboys score three or four more points per game with Smith at right tackle over Colombo.

The players on this list with the best opportunity to make the roster are Olshansky, Gronkowski, McCray and Holley.  Spears is a free agent and probably won’t be back, so Dallas will need to replace his run-stopping ability.  Right now, I’m not sure who will do that.

By

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:

Dallas Cowboys Times 53-man Roster, Version 2.0

Todd Archer’s 53-man Roster, Version 2.0

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.

By

Cowboys 53-Man Roster Projection, Version 2.0: Year of the Undrafted Rookie?

The second version of our 53-man roster projections is here without too many alterations from the first attempt.  At guard, we substituted Travis Bright for the recently released Cory Procter.  We can’t say we aren’t happy to see Procter finally gone.

At cornerback, we replaced Cletis Gordon with Bryan McCann.  Coach Wade Phillips likes Gordon, but after further thought, the return skills he offers are less imperative with rookies Dez Bryant and Akwasi Owusu-Ansah on the roster.

Of course left tackle changes with the addition of former Rams tackle Alex Barron.  We expect him to take second-year man Robert Brewster’s spot.

The last change came at safety, where we replaced free agent O.J. Atogwe (still a possibility, but a slim one) with undrafted rookie Barry Church.  It may be a stretch to predict two undrafted rookies (McCann and Church) to make the squad over two drafted ones (Sean Lissemore and Jamar Wall), but we like what both undrafted players have to offer.

QB
1. Tony Romo
2. Jon Kitna
3. Stephen McGee

RB
1. Felix Jones
2. Marion Barber
3. Tashard Choice

FB
1. Deon Anderson

TE
1. Jason Witten
2. Martellus Bennett
3. John Phillips

WR
1. Miles Austin
2. Roy Williams
3. Dez Bryant
4. Patrick Crayton
5. Kevin Ogletree
6. Sam Hurd

LT
1. Doug Free
2. Alex Barron

LG
1. Kyle Kosier
2. Travis Bright

C
1. Andre Gurode

RG
1. Leonard Davis
2. Montrae Holland

RT
1. Marc Colombo
2. Sam Young

DT
1. Jay Ratliff
2. Junior Siavii

DE
1. Marcus Spears
2. Igor Olshansky
3. Stephen Bowen
4. Jason Hatcher
5. Marcus Dixon

ILB
1. Bradie James
2. Keith Brooking
3. Sean Lee
4. Jason Williams

OLB
1. Demarcus Ware
2. Anthony Spencer
3. Victor Butler
4. Brandon Williams
5. Curtis Johnson

CB
1. Mike Jenkins
2. Terence Newman
3. Orlando Scandrick
4. Bryan McCann

S
1. Gerald Sensabaugh
2. Alan Ball
3. Michael Hamlin
4. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah
5. Barry Church

LS
1. L.P. Ladouceur

K
1. David Buehler

P
1. Mat McBriar

KR
1. Dez Bryant
2. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah
3. Kevin Ogletree

PR
1. Dez Bryant
2. Patrick Crayton
3. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah

Additions
Dez Bryant (R)
Sean Lee (R)
Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (R)
Sam Young (R)
Jamar Wall (R)
Sean Lissemore (R)
Barry Church (R)
Bryan McCann (R)
Marcus Dixon (from practice squad)
Travis Bright (from practice squad)
Alex Barron

Released/Traded
Patrick Watkins
Bobby Carpenter
Pat McQuistan
Duke Preston
Steve Octavien
Stephen Hodge
Flozell Adams
Ken Hamlin
Jamar Wall (R)
Sean Lissemore (R)
Cory Procter
Cletis Gordon
Robert Brewster

By

Comparing 53-Man Roster Projections: Is Romo on the Bubble?

We sincerely hope you immediately realized that title was a joke.  If you are one of the coo coo fans who thinks Tony Romo needs to go, then you probably don’t have the requisite background to appreciate a debate concerning rookie free agent Scott Sicko’s chance of making the 53-man roster.

Alrighty. . . now that we have effectively alienated half of our fan base (hey, it’s what we do), we wanted to point you in the direction of Dallas Morning News’ reporter Todd Archer’s 53-man roster projection.  As you may recall, we predicted the final roster cuts about a week ago.  Archer envisions the Cowboys taking quite a different approach.

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.

Surprisingly, the similarities stop there.  Here is what we have different:

  • Archer envisions FB Deon Anderson being released and the Cowboys not even bothering to keep a fullback.  He believes undrafted rookie TE Scott Sicko will be the main beneficiary of that move.

We disagree with this prediction because the fullback position is actually quite vital to the Cowboys’ offense.  Don’t forget that, according to a study we published just after the 2009 season concluded, Anderson was far superior in run blocking than TE John Phillips (to the tune of nearly two yards-per-carry more with Anderson in the game despite a 3:1 run-to-pass ratio during those plays).  The difference in the efficiency of the passing game with each player in the lineup was negligible.  See the chart to the left for more details.

  • Archer, like us, is projecting the Cowboys to retain nine offensive linemen.  We actually only have one player different on the entire line:  he has last year’s practice squad guard Travis Bright substituted for Cory Procter.

We actually believe Bright is a superior player and even had him in our initial roster projection, but we all know the coaching staff values Procter’s versatility to play both center and guard.  For this reason, we see the band “Free Reign” sticking together for another season.

  • 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.

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 recent Mailbag.

  • Archer believes the Cowboys will keep the standard five cornerbacks, while we believe it could be just four.

    The versatility of AOA could allow the Cowboys to keep just four true CBs.

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.

We believe the versatility of the Cowboys’ safeties means both players could have trouble making the squad.  Wall struggled badly in mini-camp and McCann will have an uphill battle as an undrafted player and with Wall already ahead of him.

The reason we have neither Wall nor McCann making the final roster is due to a player many Cowboys fans probably don’t even know (but one the coaches love)–Cletis Gordon.  Now, 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), but we think the coaches will ultimately deem Gordon as the fourth-best cornerback on the roster.

  • Archer, like us, is projecting five safeties to make the roster.  He believes the fifth guy will be undrafted free agent Barry Church, however, while we see the Cowboys signing soon-to-be unrestricted free agent O.J. Atogwe.

We are going out on a limb to project a player on another team who is not even currently an unrestricted free agent (he becomes one on June 1) to come to Dallas, but we don’t see how the Cowboys can be comfortable with either Alan Ball or Michael Hamlin starting at free safety.

Ball played adequately last season (we gave him a ‘C+’ overall grade), but the ‘Boys don’t need just ‘adequate’ play from their free safety anymore.  Ken Hamlin was released because he lacked the ability to make big plays.  Atogwe is a ball-hawk (15 interceptions in the last three seasons for a St. Louis defense that was attacked on the ground more than through the air) who would provide the Cowboys with what they currently lack in the back of the secondary.