Everyone else is doing it... why not me? I have had some problems with some of the projections I've been seeing and I wanted to do a roster projection of my own to share my opinions. For my 90 man roster I will be using NFL.com. I'll also look at who I think solidified their status on this team and who hurt it last night.
These are the obvious choices for making the opening day roster. On this list I will not include anybody who has been, is being, or should be discussed being cut, only the absolute locks.
Romo is a top 10 QB no matter what the "Romo Haters" say and Kitna is a solid backup.
RB- Felix Jones, Demarco Murray
Jones is electric and I expect big things from him this year and Murray is a 3rd round pick who isn't going anywhere.
Austin and Bryant are one of the top pairings at WR in the league. Ogletree has looked like a solid 3rd receiver in camp and will almost certainly be our 3rd guy now that the Cotchery rumors will rest with him signing with the Steelers.
Witten IS the best tight end in the league, sorry Antonio Gates lovers. Bennett, while an idiot, is a very good tight end, I was a huge supporter of trading him when his value was at his highest (2009 I believe?) but now that he appears to have gotten his head straight and our depth at wide receiver is looking pretty slim, he is a valuable piece in our offense. Phillips has picked up right where he left off in camp last year and also should be an important player for JG in 2011.
OT- Doug Free, Tyron Smith
2 no brainers, 9th overall pick and our prize in free agency. No explanation needed
Kosier is a serviceable starter, thats why we brought him back this year. Arkin has shown he can be an important part of our our offensive line for years to come and could end up starting sometime this year. Holland was the hardest player to put on the "lock" list because he came to shape out of shape and has suffered multiple injuries already. He has shown me nothing impressive but obviously JG and Jerry see something in him, Garrett already has deemed him the starter and Jerry has stated we will not pursue an offensive lineman this offseason leaving Holland as the starter until Arkin pushes him out.
C- Andre Gurode
Gurode is a Pro Bowler and in my opinion one of our most underrated players. Hopefully he will be back from his injury shortly.
All 3 were free agent signings/retainings and will hopefully wreak havoc in Rob Ryan's defense. Spears is the best run stopper we have, Coleman has experience in Ryan's scheme and is solid, and I believe Hatcher has the most upside out of the three.
NT- Jay Ratliff, Josh Brent
Rat is an All Pro and our second best defensive player, I cant wait to see what RR has up his sleeve for Rat in this scheme. Brent is perfect for us, he knows his role and can help keep Rat fresh during the game. He will be a vital piece in our defenses success in 2011.
Ware is the best OLB in the league, no explanation needed for his inclusion here. Spencer is a different story, while most people are calling this a "make or break" season for Tony Romo, I believe this will be a make or break season for Spencer not Romo. With Butler breathing down his neck Spencer will need to step it up this year and stop taunting us with his flashes of talent and finally be a consistent contributor. Speaking of Butler, he might be the second best pass rusher we have on this team and will be on the team this year and hopefully in the future.
James is a team captain and still a solid linebacker and is in no danger of losing his job for now. Lee has shown incredible potential and will eventually be starting beside James this year. Carter was our second round pick and I've never heard of a team cutting their 2nd round pick in the preseason because of an injury. Unless he goes on PUP he will be here.
Newman and Jenkins are a year removed from the Pro Bowl and Jenkins was apparently been playing like 2009 Jenkins before his stinger. Newman has been hurt and hasn't shown much but he is in no danger of being cut along with Scandrick who has shown at times that he can be a very good corner in this league.
FS- Gerald Sensabaugh
I know many were thrilled when they thought he was not returning this year but he is. He is a starting free safety... I know I'm not thrilled about it either.
SS- Abram Elam
Now this is a guy I'm excited about. He is solid against the run and the passing game, he will play an important role as the leader of this secondary.
P- Mat McBriar
It really is a treat to have the best punter in the league on your team, he was one of the lone bright spots from last years team.
LS- L.P. Ladouceur
Also one of the best in the business, he's as reliable as they come.
Now with 34 "locks" to make the roster, we also have locks to not make the roster. These guys are either camp bodies, not performing well enough to be considered, or they play a position where there is too much depth already.
Locks to miss the cut
Jose Acuna OT, Corey Adams LS, Mike Balogun LB, Billy Blackard NT, Isiah Greenhouse LB, Alex Ibiloye DB, Chris Jones P, Pepa Lutuli OG, Chris Randle CB, Ross Weaver CB, Colin Zych.
Now with 34 locks and 11 locks to be cut, that leaves 45 players all vying for 19 spots. It will be tough to cut 45 down to 19 but I'm up for the challenge. Before I do so though lets look at who helped their stock and who hurt it last night:
HELP - Victor Butler OLB- Butler made Tim Tebow's night hell last night. You couldn't miss Butler if you were watching the game last night, he was always around the ball making plays. The play that stood out to me was when he ate up a double team, fell over, then got up and chased down Tebow from behind. Those are the kinda plays the coaches will notice. Anthony Spencer will really have to step up his game if he wants to hold off this kid.
HURT - Alex Albright OLB- There was a lot of hype about this kid in camp but he failed to impress last night. He had two tackles but it seemed like he played at a much slower pace then I expected from him. He was outshined by other linebackers like Butler and Cummings and it will now be much more difficult to make the 53.
HELP - Kenwin Cummings MLB- Most of the talk in camp has been about Alex Albright and Orie Lemon, not many people have mentioned Cummings. He showed more last night then the other two linebackers fighting for a spot. He was aggressive and physical and Rob Ryan loves him.
HURT - Lonyae Miller RB- Miller had an opportunity to pretty much show Tashard Choice the door last night but failed to take advantage of it. He finished with 9 carries for 11 yards and was sub par in pass blocking which is supposed to be his big advantage over Choice. He was outplayed by Phillip Tanner who had 44 yards last night and averaged 5 yards a carry.
HELP - Dwayne Harris WR- Harris and McGee looked like Romo and Austin out there last night. Harris had 127 yards and caught the game winning touchdown. Harris proved to be valuable not only in the passing game but in special teams as well. He could challenge Ogletree for the 3rd WR spot.
HURT - Igor Olshansky DE- On the first series Olshansky got manhandled by the Broncos offensive line. His play will make Cowboys fans call out even more for his release. Unfortunately it is not going to happen this year even if he was completely out played by Hatcher and Lissemore.
HELP - Jason Hatcher DE- Unlike some of these other guys on the list, Hatcher was doing his work against the Broncos first team. Like Butler it seems that he was always in the backfield. He was our best pass rusher last night and should push Igor for the starting job.
HURT - Gerald Sensabaugh FS- Sensi looked pretty rusty last night and I'm gonna hope that it just was rust. He was one of the main reasons for a bad showing from the secondary last night. Maybe one of the young guys can push him to the bench but none of them looked all that impressive either.
HELP - Stephen Mcgee QB- Ah, Stephen McGee. After the first half people were pleading that he be released immediately. After the second half he has Red Jesus himself saying hes "pretty darn good". I heard comparisons to John Elway, not kidding. McGee is clutch, it's as simple as that. He showed it against Arizona and he showed it last night. I think there is hope for this kid and he could be the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys in a couple years.
HURT - Danny McCray S- It might be unfair to put him on here but he did hurt his stock yesterday. He left with an apparent arm injury and I haven't heard anything about it but it looked pretty serious. I'm hoping he recovers quickly because he is a ST stud but who knows.
Now with 19 spots left we will look at the position battles that will determine who makes the cut.
QB- Stephen McGee vs. Tom Brandstater
I think this one was put to rest last night. You can say what you want about McGee, he runs too much, he is a slow decision maker, but the kid is clutch. WInner- Mcgee
RB- Tashard Choice vs. Lonyae Miller vs. Phillip Tanner vs. Frank Warren
Everybody seemed to be riding the Lonyae bandwagon before last night but now this race seems a lot more even. I really think it is too early to give up on Choice. Unless we can get a 4th or 5th round pick for him he is worth keeping. Hopefully we can stash the other guys away on our practice squad and call on them if Choice disappoints. Winner- Choice
FB- Chris Gronkowski vs. Shaun Chapas vs. Jason Pociask
Most people think this is a two man race but everything I'm hearing is Pociask is right in the thick of the discussion. I do think the converted tight end will fall short and it will come down to Chapas and Gronk. The painful memories from last year will be too much to keep Gronk and we elect for a change which is usually good. Winner- Chapas
Wow, by far the hardest position to cut down in my opinion. First I think we need to separate the serious contenders. First I will eliminate Cleveland, Edison, Williams, Johnson, and Ryan from contention. I like some of these guys but there is just too much depth at wide receiver right now. The next decision depends on if we plan on keeping 5 or 6 wide receivers, for now well keep 5 and revisit this later if we have space. I think Harris earned himself a spot with his play last night. Unlike Holley, Harris can contribute on offense and special teams. With Austin, Bryant, Tree, and Harris on the roster that leaves one spot for Radway/Holley/Poots/ Leong. The guy with the most upside is Raymond Radway and that is why he will make the team. Out of all these guys he has the most "Miles Austin" in him. If you don't know what that means it is the potential to work his way up from UDFA to star. Like the RB's I hope we can keep some of these guys on the practice squad until we need them. Winners- Harris and Radway
TE- Martin Rucker vs. Martin Rucker
Rucker will not be on the 53 man roster, I just did not want to include him in the locks for being cut because he is a decent player there is just no need for him on the roster. Winner- Not Rucker
I believe four of these players will make the cut and the odd man out will be Kowalski. Costa did struggle last night but he was a backup going against a starting defensive line. Nagy is versatile and can fill in at center or guard. Parnell didn't look bad last night but I think there is only one spot for him and Young. Young has a lot of potential but is still raw, we will keep him on to develop him though. He will be our swing tackle and it will mean the end for Parnell as we elect to keep an extra safety instead. Winners- Costa, Nagy, and Young
Olshansky looked bad last night, simple as that. Lissemore and Geathers both outplayed him, Lissy had a couple good plays and Geathers recorded a sack or Tebow. I know most people want Igor gone but the problem is that he is not going anywhere, at least not yet. Unless he is traded to the Texans he will be here along with Lissemore. Lissy has a higher ceiling then Geathers in my opinion. I like Geathers but their is no room for keeping 6 ends, also Lissemore is more versatile and can play NT unlike Geathers. Winners- Olshansky and Lissemore
DT- Jimmy Saddler Mcqueen vs. Jimmy Saddler Mcqueen
With the addition of Lissemore to the roster, there is no need for Mcqueen. I don't know much about Mcqueen but since he was on the team last year I could not count him as an automatic cut. Lissy can backup Rat and Brent and no need for Mcqueen. Winner- Not Mcqueen
OLB- Brandon Williams vs. Kenwin Cummings vs. Alex Albright vs. Alex Daniels
This is the second hardest position to make cuts for me. I think all 4 of these guys have starter potential but for me it comes down to Cummings and Daniels for the 4th linebacker spot. I like Albright a lot but seeing him play last night really spoiled him for me. He just didn't seem like he could keep up at this level, but I know he is a hard worker and will eventually catch up. If we can keep him on the practice squad and develop him he could be a decent player for us. Williams looks good in camp but I think it is just too little too late for him. He, like Albright, has not looked good during games in his career. Cummings looked great last night, I was watching him and thought it was Sean Lee, they play with the same motor. Daniels is more versatile though, he joined the team as a fullback, switched to end, now is a linebacker. He can play all three positions if need be. But I will give this one to Cummings based off what I saw last night, I think he is the most talented of the group and he should be here when the season starts. Winner- Cummings
MLB- Keith Brooking vs. Orie Lemon
Brooking will make the team, this one is really about Lemon. I love Brooking's fire and passion but he is breaking down and will most likely be gone next year but for this year is safe. Unfortunately I don't think Lemon will be so lucky but it all depends on Carter's health. If Carter is on the PUP to start the season I think Lemon is the guy to fill in. He has been excellent in camp and had two tackles last night, but there is not enough room on the roster for Cummings and Lemon and I think Cummings beats him out. We will probably see Lemon this season when Carter/Brooking/Lee/James get hurt which we know at one point or another one of them will. Winner- Brooking for now
First off I like Mario Butler but I'm ruling him out before we start. Jerry just resigned Ball so I cant imagine him not making the team even if he was one of the worst players in the league last year. Hopefully a switch back to CB can help him get back to being halfway decent. Ball is safe. McCann didn't look bad last night, I saw a nice pass breakup in the endzone against the first team on Brandon Lloyd I believe. We all know about McCann's big play ability but he is also a decent corner and the fact that he is listed ahead of Thomas on the depth chart bodes well for him. McCann is safe. Josh Thomas would be a very hard player to cut, obviously Jerry sees something in him since he drafted him in the 5th round this year. He showed flashes last night and he also had some rookie mistakes but can not bring myself to cut him since he is only a rookie and hasn't been bad in camp. Plus with injuries to Newman and Jenkins, especially Newman, we can use all the defensive back depth we can get. Winners- Ball, McCann, and Thomas
Now if we want a kicker on our roster we can only keep 3 of these guys. Even though Barry Church got beat bad once last night he played pretty well after that. He seemed like a pretty good bet for making the roster before the game and didnt do anything too bad to make me think otherwise. Sendejo is a special teams stud but doesnt do enough as a safety to make the team, he is the odd one out. So there is room for McCray and AOA. McCray's injury looked bad last night and it would hurt to lose him becaus he is so good on ST and is a better safety then Sendejo. AOA is still very raw obviously but I cant cut him yet, I think he has a high ceiling and I would give him one more year to develop. If he doesn't improve enough we end the AOA experiment after camp next year. Winners- McCray, Church, Owusu-Ansah
K- Buehler vs. Bailey vs. Forbath
Buehler made a the only field goal for us last night but for those of us who watched it we know it wasn't that simple. It looked like it missed wide and almost made me lose my mind even in a preseason game. Bailey has outperformed him in camp and with the new kickoff rules Buehler no longer has that going for him. Buehler is out and now it is down to Bailey and Forbath. We still have not seen Forbath so it is hard to make a decision but Bailey has kicked pretty well so he gets the job until Forbath shows me something. For anyone who just looked at the boxscore last night and saw Bailey missed a PAT it was a bad snap and not at all his fault. Winner- Bailey for now
Now that we have our 53 man roster in place we need one more piece...Brian Waters please. The guy is perfect and I'm sure I don't to explain why for you but I will. Waters would come at a very reasonable price, I would estimate probably 1 year 2-3 million. Waters is the definition of a RKG, he is a leader in the locker room and in the community. Waters can still play, he has paved the way for Priest Holmes, Larry Johnson, and most recently Jamaal Charles. He was voted the 67th best player in the league earlier this year on NFL networks top 100 players. Everything I have heard from Chiefs fans has been positive. Also he would fit in perfectly for our team, he could step in start at RG. David Arkin can learn from a year behind an all time great and Tyron Smith can learn from a year next to him. Please Jerry... make it happen.
I will make another post updating my projected roster after our 2nd preseason game so stay tuned.