There's no CBA yet, we haven't had free agency, and there are a lot of reps still to be done in training camp before the Cowboys have to make the final cut to their 53-man roster.
We've debated most of the free agent options, the salary cap and potential outcomes of the new CBA a hundred times. So before things get going in earnest, let's have a little fun and take a guesstimate at how the roster is going to shake out. After the break, you'll find my best guess of the 53-man roster. Leave your thoughts in the comments section.
QB - (3) - Tony Romo, Jon Kitna, Stephen McGee ... No debate here. Kitna enters his final year, and McGee gets one last chance to show that he is at least backup material, if not more.
RB - (4) - Felix Jones, Tashard Choice, DeMarco Murray, Shaun Chapas ... For all the early hype Murray is getting, he'll still start the season third on depth chart. And it'll be neck and neck with Choice for a while.
WR - (6) - Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Sam Hurd, Kevin Ogletree, Dwayne Harris, Jesse Holley ... I think we'll see Roy Williams cut or traded away at the end of camp, just like Crayton was last year (assuming the new CBA provides for a way to get rid of all the dead money in the salary cap). Of course, one significant injury to one of the other receivers in camp would likely change that, but I think Roy Williams will baffle the fanbase of some team in the Pacific Time Zone. After last season's special teams performance, Coach DeCamillis vetoes the release of Sam Hurd, so the special teams captain is re-signed and stays on board.
TE - (3) - Jason Witten, Martellus Bennett, John Phillips ... If Phillips is fully recovered, no surprises here. There is a possibility the Cowboys could add one more guy, if there are question marks about Phillips. Look for Martin Rucker, Chris Gronkowski and a couple of UDFAs to battle hard for a spot.
OL - (10) - Doug Free, Kyle Kosier, Andre Gurode, Montrae Holland and Tyron Smith are the starters. They'll be backed up by Jermey Parnell, Sam Young, David Arkin, Bill Nagy and Phil Costa ... No free agent acquisitions here.
DL - (6) - Ray McDonald (SF), Stephen Bowen, Tony McDaniel (MIA), Sean Lissemore, Jay Ratliff, Josh Brent... I have a strong feeling that Igor Olshansky may ultimately follow Wade Phillips to Houston as Rob Ryan and Brian Baker completely retool the defensive line.
OLB - (4) - DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Victor Butler, Brandon Williams ... This will easily be Rob Ryan's biggest challenge: how to get more pressure from the strong side.
ILB - (5) - Bradie James, Keith Brooking, Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Kenwin Cummings ... There will be loads of competition in training camp at ILB, and incumbent Kenwin Cummings will face a tough test against some highly motivated UDFAs.
CB - (4) - Terence Newman, Mike Jenkins, Orlando Scandrick, Josh Thomas ... Despite assurances that Alan Ball will move back to corner, he actually moves off the roster after training camp.
S - (5) - Abram Elam (CLV), Michael Huff (OAK), Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Andrew Sendejo, Danny McCray ... With so many changes in the secondary, Rob Ryan brings in his play-caller from Cleveland. The Cowboys also splurge on a big name free safety, bringing in Michael Huff, one of the league's best pure cover safeties who also has a nose for getting to the QB.
ST - (3) - Mat McBriar, David Buehler, L.P. Ladouceur ... Buehler wins out against Kris Brown, not so much because of better accuracy but because he has the bigger leg.
1. RB Marion Barber
2. FB Chris Gronkowski
3. WR Roy Williams
4. OT Marc Colombo
5. OG Leonard Davis
6. OT Alex Barron
7. DE Igor Olshansky
8. DE Marcus Spears
9. DE Jason Hatcher
10. LB Leon Williams
11. CB Alan Ball
12. CB Bryan McCann
13. S Barry Church
14. K Kris Brown