Last Four In, Last Four Out: Dallas Cowboys 53 Man Roster Projection With Starters

We are now 11 days into the Dallas Cowboys 2011 Training Camp; it must be time to project the roster! I'll admit that I'm at a disadvantage here, as I haven't been able to witness any of the camp in person. However, the sensational camp coverage we've received by our BTB family (gracious hat tip to Dave, Brandon and Birddog26) and our extended family, has given us great information on the current candidates.

In free agency, the Cowboys have chosen to stick with what they had. Most of their signings have been their own free agents, with the notable exception of two players Rob Ryan is bringing with him from Cleveland. There are still a couple of question marks however, and there always seem to be a couple guys that were thought to be camp bodies that have turned some heads. Cowboys fans, maybe more so than fans of other teams, can truly appreciate the battles at the bottom of the roster. It's brought us players such as Jay Ratliff, Patrick Crayton, Miles Austin... and some dude named Tony Romo. Are there any such gems in the 2011 camp battles? Let's take a look at my projected last four in and last four out on the 53 man roster.

Make the jump...

Last Four… Player Notes
OUT ILB Bruce Carter I think the Cowboys would like to start him slow, and he will begin the season on the PUP list, freeing up a roster spot for another player.
  OLB Brandon Williams I think Williams spot is in more danger than people think to Albright. Sneaky suspicion that if Matt Roth continues to find the FA market not keen on him, a one year deal with Dallas could surface.
  CB Mario Butler I think he's made a good impression at camp, practice squad for now but keep your eyes on him.
  RB Tashard Choice I'd expect someone in the league to give up a late round draft choice for Choice. Maybe Detroit is looking with rookie RB Mikel LeShoure out for the year with a torn achilles.
     
IN ILB Orie Lemon I think he makes the originally 53, but when Carter returns he gets pushed to the practice squad.
  RB Lonyae Miller Our new goal line back, his play in the Blue White Scrimmage probably sent Choice packing.
  WR Jesse Holley Last man standing for the fifth WR spot, as Raymond Radway makes his way to the practice squad and we wave goodbye to Manny Johnson and Teddy Williams.
  OLB Alex Albright
He's shown a lot of potential in training camp, I'm giving the nod over Brandon Williams at this point, but game action could tell a different story.


 

Projected 53 Man Roster. Players highlighted in bold are who I believe start (or get more snaps than a starter at another position)

QB (3): Tony Romo, Jon Kitna, Stephen McGee

RB (4): Felix Jones, DeMarco Murray, Lonyae Miller, Shaun Chapas

WR (5): Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Kevin Ogletree, Dwayne Harris, Jesse Holley

TE: (3) Jason Witten, Martellus Bennett, John Phillips

OL (9): Doug Free, David Arkin, Andre Gurode, Kyle Kosier, Tyron Smith, Sam Young, Phil Costa, Montrae Holland, Bill Nagy

DL (6): Marcus Spears, Jay Ratliff, Jason Hatcher, Kenyon Coleman, Josh Brent, Sean Lissemore

OLB (4): DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Victor Butler, Alex Albright

ILB (5): Bradie James, Sean Lee, Keith Brooking, Kerwin Cummings, Orie Lemon

CB (6): Terence Newman, Mike Jenkins, Orlando Scandrick, Bryan McCann, Alan Ball, Josh Thomas

S (5): Abe Elam, Gerald Sensabaugh, Danny McCray, Barry Church, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah

ST (3): Mat McBriar, L.P. Ladoucer, Kai Forbath

With choosing both rookies (Arkin and Smith) to start on the right side of the offensive line, I think we will see a heavy dose of the two-tight end sets as the Cowboys base offense. I expect to see plenty of Martellus Bennett in the H-back role to begin the season, and the fullback position to gain prominence as the season wears on and Chapas gets more experience.

I had to fight with myself over Tashard Choice/Lonyae Miller, Brandon Williams/Alex Albright and Alan Ball (in general) the most. Obviously future camp injuries will shape how this thing finally gets put together. I don't think the Cowboys are done shopping for free agents whatsoever. I believe offensive guard, secondary and possibly outside linebacker (as I referenced Roth earlier) are still positions the Cowboys would like to add some competition to.

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So, with my projected 53 man roster in hand, let's take a look at how this positional breakdown compares with what we've seen out the gate from the Cowboys over the last several years.

Position 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
Quarterback 3 3 3 2 2 2
Running Back 3 3 3 3 3 3
Wide Receiver 5 5 5 5 6 6
Tight End 3 2 3 3 3 3
Fullback 1 2 1 1 2 1
Offensive Line 9 10 10 11 10 9
             
Defensive Line 6 7 6 6 6 7
Linebackers 9 9 9 8 8 9
Defensive Backs 11 9 9 11 10 9
of which: CB 6 3 4 7 5 5
of which: S 5 6 5 4 5 4
             
Specialists 3 3 4 3 3 4

 

So what are your thoughts, BTB? Are there any changes you'd make to this projection? Tell us all about it in the comment section.

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