The Dallas Cowboys currently have 89 players under contract. One of them, Ezekiel Elliott, will come off the books on June 1, leaving 88. They will add a few more by the time training camp begins in July, but these contracted players are the resource pool whose they dispose to work. with for now. From there, they will eventually build their roster of 53 players to start the season.
The evaluation process for choosing names will begin with rookie minicamp and OTAs, but the real work won’t begin until camp. There will likely be veteran additions that will alter the math, making it far too early to come up with a projected roster that has a chance of being accurate. But we can easily name around 45 players who will make the squad from veterans and top draft picks.
Also, a projection is now a great talking point about roster strengths and weaknesses, how certain players might be used, and where camp battles will take place. So here is my first attempt of the year to project a roster for the 2023 season. (Hey, if people can already do mock drafts for next year, I can give it a shot.)
Cowboys 53-man roster projection
|QC||3||Dak Prescott||Cooper Rush||Will Grier|
|RB||4||Tony Pollard||Deuce Vaughn||Hunter Luepke||Ronald Jones|
|THE||4||Luke Cleaner||Jake Ferguson||Peyton Hendershot||Sean McKeon|
|WR||6||Lamb CeeDee||brandin cooks||Michael Gallup||Jalen Tolbert||KaVontae Turpin||Communication Simulator|
|TO||3||Tyron Smith||Terence Steele||Matt Waltzko|
|AND||4||Zack Martin||Tyler Smith||Asim Richards||Chuma Edoga|
|RDE||3||Micah Parsons||Dorance Armstrong||Guillaume Fehoko|
|EDL||2||By Marcus Lawrence||sam williams|
|NT||2||Know Smith||Johnathan Hankins|
|DT||3||Osa Odighizuwa||Neville Gallimore||Chauncey Golston|
|KG||5||Leighton Vander Esch||Damone Clark||DeMarvion overcame||Gabriel Cox||Devin Harper|
|CC||6||Trevon Diggs||Stephen Gilmore||Daron Bland||Jourdan Lewis||Eric Scott||CJ Goodwin|
|S||4||Jayron Kerse||Donovan Wilson||Malik Hooker||Israel Mukuamu|
|PS||3||Bryan Anger||Victory of Trent||Tristan Viscaino|
Here’s the breakdown of why these players made the list and who didn’t.
First, it has a 50/50 split between attack and defense for non-specialist positions. This could well be changed one way or another, but a good sign is that several good players ended up being dropped from this list. This is the kind of problem you want to have. Now let’s move on to the individual positions.
The first two names are given. The team will want to wear three after last year’s experience. Will Grier is the default player here, as there are only three on the current roster. But it can be a placeholder. Cowboys usually carry four for camp. They’ll likely invite a few unsigned QBs to rookie minicamp for a tryout, but when training camp begins, it’ll likely be a veteran.
One thing that might be intriguing is whether they might be interested in talking to Ben DiNucci about joining the team. He had a stellar season in the XFL. They went to that source last year when they signed Kavontae Turpin, who had a successful year as a comeback man. If there are no bad feelings about his departure, the Nooch would definitely be in contention as QB3 and could push Cooper Rush for QB2. His familiarity with some staff, especially Mike McCarthy, as well as many players might be another reason to watch him.
To come back
It’s funny, because of a few rookies. Deuce Vaughn is the new change of pace with Tony Pollard reprising the starring role. However, the team needs someone to carry some of the load so that Pollard doesn’t burn out over the course of the season. Still, that could be the plan with Pollard playing on the tag and the team hopefully very cautious about overpaying for the position, as they’ve tended to do.
Enter Hunter Luepke, the only UDFA 2023 to make this showing. He was listed as a fullback out of college, but he’s much more of an H-back, able to carry the ball, move the sticks in short-range situations, block both from the backfield and lined up in line, and go out as a pass receiver. That’s why he’s included in the running backs room because he absolutely has the ability to be the only fullback rather than just a traditional fullback. Like Vaughn, his true value is going to depend on how McCarthy and Brian Schottenheimer use him.
The team needs a fourth back for depth, and FA signing Ronald Jones wins that screening, but Malik David and Rico Dowdle will use every opportunity to take his place. They will be a fun group to watch at camps and pre-season games.
The projection is four here, but that’s one place the team could miss, as Luepke could well be used to fill the role at times. But the team likes the ability to mix and match these players’ different skill sets, with McKeon being a player who will be idle most games. Luke Schoonmaker looks like a better version of Dalton Schultz, whom he was drafted to replace.
We know the three holders. Turpin is on the roster for his return role, but hopefully the coaches will try to incorporate him more into the passing game. The other positions are frankly up for grabs, but they are far from ready to give up Tolbert after his disappointing rookie campaign. Simi Fehoko makes the team because of his experience, but he has a ton of people coming after him, including seventh-rounder Jalen Brooks.
We discussed this global projection on the latest episode of Ryled Up on the Blogging The Boys podcast network. Be sure to subscribe to our network so you don’t miss any of our shows! Apple devices can subscribe here And Spotify users can subscribe here.
This should be discussed as a group, as there are so much moving parts to consider.
Right now, the idea of having your top five offensive linemen on the field would give us Tyron Smith, Tyler Smith, Tyler Biadasz, Zack Martin and Terrence Steele as starters. However, that assumes Steele is ready for the start of the season after his injury. There have also been comments from management that they see Tyler Smith as a tackle this year, not a guard.
This last element is compounded by the fact that the team is only dealing with the offensive line in the draft with fifth-round pick Asim Richards, who is expected to be moved to guard from his position as college tackle. The team seems to believe that their depth at OL is better than most of us.
Who exactly is this depth? This is a wide open question. If discussing Tyler Smith at tackle is the plan, that would make Tyron Smith the swing tackle, which isn’t a bad thing considering the latter’s age and injury history. But otherwise they have to have a different swing tackle, which is why Matt Waletzko is penciled in. Chuma Edoga goes deep inside, with either him or Richards backing Biadasz as well.
That leaves just eight offensive linemen on the roster. The team has done this before, but it might be too light, and the projection still has Tyler Smith on guard. If he stays at tackle this year, they’ll probably have to add another name to the squad, probably Matt Farniok. And it would be taken from another location, which could be the wide reception hall or the defence.
Pass the rushers
There’s a lot of depth to the list. The five names here make a terrific group, and the only thing that changes is if they shorten elsewhere to add Dante Fowler into the mix.
We were all surprised when the Cowboys took a big DT in the first round, but it didn’t take long to see the value in Mazi Smith. He not only has all the traits you need to see to put the clamps on the running game, his strength and brilliance could also make him an asset when the other team kicks the ball around. Johnathan Hankins is very valuable. Last year when he ran out of time, the run defense really suffered, so having both him and Smith should prevent that from happening again. Both can draw a lot of double teams, which will help someone else.
The 3-tech players look good, especially Osa Odighizuwa, but Chauncey Golston’s apparent move to the role adds a nice wrinkle. It’s ideal for a NASCAR passing package, bringing real ability to tackle the passer from inside, and it can also be reversed to rush from the edge, leaving someone like Parsons or Lawrence tormenting the middle of the opponent. offensive line. The addition of him and Smith transformed this group from a weak point into a real strength for the team.
DeMarvion Overshown gives the Cowboys three solid linebackers, and they often only have one on the field under Dan Quinn. Jayron Kearse is more of a hybrid player who fills the LB function on many games, and Overshown can fill a similar role. Jabril Cox and Devin Harper are on the roster primarily to contribute to special teams.
CJ Goodwin is another player ported for special teams work, so it’s really five corners. The expectation here is that Kelvin Joseph will be released, presumably to be brought back for the practice squad. A lot of people think Jourdan Lewis will be cut to make room for someone else, but I don’t see it. This is another very strong group for the team.
The four here seem obvious, although Israel Mukuamu could also play a corner. If he were to be permanently moved to this room, it would hit one of the other corners, most likely Eric Scott, even though the team traded to acquire him. This would probably also bring Markquese Bell back to the 53.
The punter and long snapper are set, but Tristan Vizcaino may just be a placeholder until the team can organize a competition for the job. As mentioned above, there are two holes to fill after June 1, and that’s when they’ll use one of those slots. This projection only uses existing contracts, so for now, Vizcaino gets the green light.
Feel free to offer your suggestions for where this 53-man projection might be wrong in the comments. Just be nice.