So now the camp story lines come to a close. Dreams have been left dangling with a confiscated playbook.
However, for the lucky few players to have earned the right to wear the Star on their helmets, there is another day. Another day to live the dream.
Was that too cheesy? Yeah I hear you.
After the jump I will give you guys my Final 53 prediction as well as the positional grades I dished out to the Final Roster.
QB - Romo / Kitna / McGee
Nothing new here, this will be the final year Kitna is on our Roster. Romo is playing make or break. This is his TinCup moment.
(A) Pro Bowl candidate plus we probably have one of the best backups in NFL with a solid #3. Can't get much better than this.
RB - Felix / Murray / Tanner / Choice
With the emergence of Tanner, Choice looks like the odd man out. However he still knows this offense. I believe we'll try to shop Choice. If we cannot find a suitor, we will keep 4 RB's. Indy or Arizona anyone?
(B) This unit could be explosive if Murray develops and runs like he should. The only thing left to be determined is the short yardage role. There is a lot to be desired here, but I believe we are in the best RB situation we have been in since 1997. I have more hope in this group than any. It should be exciting, screen passes and all...
FB - Gronk
We need to find a Goal Line Back/FB. This team is going to struggle in short yardage due to our RB group. I believe we will look at the waiver wire for a more complete FB/GLB. Gronk and Chapas are too far below average to be on an NFL team. But Gronk is at least serviceable. Maybe he progresses...
(F) This is the worst position on our team, granted it is one guy. We need to really find a fit for this offense, or decide if we are moving on from the FB...
WR - Austin / Dez / Ogletree / Holley / Harris
It is possible that we finally have two true #1 receivers. If Austin can bounce back and Dez takes the next step, We Do! They are the odd bunch with their journeys and all, but I think they will play off of each other perfectly. On a side note, I must admit, I have never been much of a fan of Jesse Holley, I always thought he was given a free pass because of the 4th and Long thing, but he has taken another step, a big step indeed. He has opened my eyes and can for sure fill the role that Hurd left. Ogletree has also been coming into form the last few games, I think his route running will continue to be the bread and butter of his game. I don't really think he is suitable for the Slot, but he could get outside as an X, with Dez lining up in the slot. Harris is my pet cat. As probably half of the fan-base here, but I think he is going to develop nicely into the long term answer at slot. Those 3 have made our depth chart look nicer than it did 4 weeks ago. I feel strangely confident.
(A-) Our 1-2 punch is tremendous, so I give us an A- for two #1's... but the rest are wet behind the ears. We have yet to figure out if they will show up on Sunday, but they will get there chance soon enough. If one shows up it could be an A+.
TE - Witten / Phillips / Bennet / Rucker
TE is such an important part of our offense and with the lack of a true FB and an injured Marty B, I believe we go with one more TE on the 53.
(B+) How can a position with Witten be anything less than an A? Well when you play alot of 2 TE offense, Witten is only half. Well, better than half maybe. But you get the picture...Marty has not stepped up and continues to drop passes and Phillips is coming of an ACL injury. This unit could be the best TE threesome in football, until then I will temper my hopefulness...
OL - Free / Nagy / Costa / Kosier / Smith / Arkin / Holland / Kowalski / Young
Enough has been said about our offensive line. There is nothing else left to be said about this camp surprise. With that being said lets get to the backups...Holland will make the 53 as insurance alone. He is capable of starting in the NFL, we cannot afford to lose virtually all of our depth. Now I cannot put Parnell in here, due to game tape. We need players who can play if called upon and Parnell isn't that, yet. However I can see us combing the waiver wire for another OT that is more refined. Also another Interior lineman could be added.
(B) When you have bookend Tackles and Kosier you are better than a C right...? If Costa is as good as the coaches think he is and Nagy can survive as a decent LG, we could become an A by next year. This is obviously generous to some due to inexperience, but based on film this pre-season we have been very solid.
DL - Ratliff / Spear / Coleman / Hatcher / Brent / Lissemore / Geathers
There is one foregone conclusion on the defensive roster prediction. Igor will be cut. Past that, this unit still seems to feel too shaky for my liking. We have 2 starters in my opinion, Spears and Rat, after that everyone is a career backup with no one stepping up. Sure we can roll with this unit, but I cannot help but think we could be looking at the waiver wire to enhance the depth. If Brent could step up, we could use some interesting lineups with Rat.
(C+) Ratliff gives this unit a C+, it could be a B- but I need to see someone else step up. It is probably the weakest position group on our team. Maybe Spears will show up this season?
ILB - James / Lee / Brooking / Cummings
I like Lemon, but he seems to be out of position alot, however he does bring some thump. Cummings gets the nod over him because of his toughness. He is just a hard nosed player. I think we take a look at him until Bruce Carter comes back, if he does come back at all this year. I am really excited about this unit, it is not often you have 3 true starters at ILB in a 3-4.
(B) The homer in me wanted to give this group a B+, but with Brooking's age and Lee's inexperience I have to temper myself... James is also not proven to me to be physically able to blitz, which is strange. He will tip off the QB too often. Will they surprise me? They are a very smart unit.
OLB - Ware / Spencer / Butler / Albright
Albright has been a workout warrior and he did show some juice in the Miami game. Butler is the best backup on our team, he is also a top 8 player on our defense. Our LB core is really 6 deep. Just like I am excited about our 3 starters at ILB, we also have 3 playmaking starters at OLB. Very nice LB core and maybe from 1-6 the best in the NFL. However it does perplex me that Butler is forced to still get mop-up time in the pre season. I would love to know how close Spencer and Butler are in the eyes of the coaching staff. Maybe they do not see what I do, or maybe Jerry is trying to play head games and humble Butler to possibly garner a very "team friendly" contract for a future starter...? One thing is for sure, Butler is going to be very hungry this season. I would hope Spencer hears the footsteps and responds.
(A+) Ware and Al Singleton would make this an A. Spencer and Butler, if combined together to form a super creature, could easily take over the universe... Well a universe without DeMarcus Ware... I think this threesome will terrorize offenses weekly.
CB - Newman / Jenkins / Scandrick / Thomas / Ball
McCann and Butler get the axe, however I think it is inevitable that we look to upgrade the bottom of our CB depth via the Waiver wire. If we cannot find a suitable player I would hope we can bring back McCann. McCann is a big name around here due largely in part to his heroics last year. But he just doesn't show up enough on film to justify keeping him over Alan Ball. Ball is interesting as an emergency Safety option, although emergency is what it would have to be for him to play back there again. I think after the dust settles we will have 6 CB's on our roster and one of them is not on our roster right now. I do like Butler, but I think he is a practice squad candidate, we might be able to take the gamble on him.
(C+) If Newman wakes up and realizes where he is and on what stage he is on this could be a B. If Jenkins did the same it could be a B+. Maybe it was the safeties...? Or maybe it was Wade...? Or Maybe it was Newman and Jenkins...? Either way they both need to improve this year and show us who they really are. Jenkins should use Scandricks contract as fuel. Newman should use the Nnamdi fiasco as the same. I am hoping one of them does something productive this season. But right now with the lack of one single preseason game for both of our starters, a C+ is optimistic...
S - Elam / Sensi / Church / McCray
Safety is going to turn out as a quality position for this year. Elam has shown to be quite dynamic back there. If I had it my way Barry Church would start over Sensi. Church has been everywhere and is a very solid player. AOA has shown very little, he is the equivalent to Jason Williams, it blows my mind that we continue to find quality players as UFA's and continue to miss horribly on drafted players, it is beyond me. I think there is no way we go with 5 safeties and keep Ball. Ball is the 5th safety here. I feel remarkably OK with our safety situation for the first time in a long time. I think we played the market correctly. Kudos to Jerry for this.
(B-) Is this really happening? Have I witnessed the day when the Cowboy Safeties are not sabotaging our season single handedly...? All they need to be is solid. Can Sensi be Solid? Elam will, I think Church can if given the opportunity with the 1's. B- is not entirely generous. The scheme looks to be hard for Sensi to grasp. But being just "Solid" would be huge for this defense...
K - Graham
This really is between Bailey and Graham. But we also have a more decorated young kicker on the Reserve/NFI in Kai Forbath. My gut feeling is that Graham gets the nod. It actually should be more of common sense. For years we have tried to go the route of the young in-experience kicker, this year I think it is time to change direction. We do have one in the fold and we try the Vet route. Graham is the guy. I mean he has to be able to get it to the end zone 40% of the time.. This is what I think we should do. Now what Jerry thinks is a different story.
(B) I have no idea which Shayne will show up. But I am guessing he can make a 42 yard field goal and a Touchback every now and then.. We are in business if my guess is right. B is middle of the pack, if he is middle of the pack I am happy...
P - McBriar
There really is no need for comment on this one.
(A+) One of the best Punters in the league deserves an A+...
LS - Ladouceur
Or here either...
(B?) He really is dependable. I will claim to know nothing about how he ranks with the rest of the league...
The Expendables & The Waiver Wire Positions
The Expendables - Choice / Gronk / Geathers / Rucker
Choice should be shopped for a 5th (valuable draft day trade chip) at least. Gronk is not the answer at FB. I went with Rucker as a 4th TE due to injury, he is expendable to a new face of any position. I also went with Geathers on the DL, because of size and warm bodies. I think we will look long and hard at that positions via waiver wire also.
Waiver Wire Positions - CB / FB / OT / DL
I do honestly think we will continue to upgrade our roster via the Waiver wire after cuts. It is very possible that we will have 3 new players on our 53 who are not on our roster now... I will say that we should be trying hard to find a CB via the wire, so we should keep 6 CB's.
The bottom of our roster will be churned. Our scouts are too good to not be utilized. I think with a little luck CB and DL depth could be bolstered a bit. I gave myself a 3 player cushion while doing this. In this prediction Choice, Gaethers and Rucker in the end are pushed off. But if nothing changes, which it won't, this is my Final 53.