Cowboys 53-Man Roster: Random Observations

To those whom much is given, much is expected: The defense gets two extra roster spots this year.

The initial 53-man roster the Cowboys reported to the league on Friday night didn't stay intact for very long, as the addition of TE Colin Cochart and the release of Stephen McGee have already altered Friday's version. And the Cowboys are potentially looking for some more late additions to the team, so it's unlikely that the current iteration of the 53-man roster will stay the way it is for very long.

But it's good enough t make it comparable to previous years and allow us to look at some of the odds and ends of this particular version of the Dallas Cowboys roster.

After the break, we ponder the ultimate cost of the Roy Williams trade, wonder whether the Cowboys' roster depth has improved, look at how the roster compares to previous years and more.

Here's how the current 53-man roster compares to the opening-day rosters of the previous years as documented in the NFL gamebooks.

Position 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
Quarterback 2 3 3 3 2 2 2
Running Back 3 4 3 3 3 3 3
Wide Receiver 6 6 5 5 5 6 6
Tight End 4 4 2 3 3 3 3
Fullback 1 - - 2 1 1 2 1
Offensive Line 9 9 10 10 11 10 9
Defensive Line 7 7 7 6 6 6 7
Linebackers 8 7 9 9 8 8 9
Defensive Backs 10 9 9 9 11 10 9
of which: CB 5 5 3 4 7 5 5
of which: S 5 4 6 5 4 5 4
Specialists 3 4 3 4 3 3 4

Versus last year, the Cowboys created roster space by going with only three specialists and two quarterbacks. They wisely invested these two additional spots in an extra linebacker and an extra defensive back. To those whom much is given, much is expected.

Here are some other random observations:

  • Last year, Bruce Carter entered the year on the PUP list, and bolstered the numbers at linebacker once he rejoined the team. This year, Kevin Kowalski is on the PUP, and once he returns, he'll find that's it's crowded along the offensive line spots. There will likely be a roster move coming here, if the Cowboys want to add Kowalski into the mix.
  • I know it's hard to believe with the recent spate of injuries at the position, but three is actually the Cowboys' default number for running backs. Not four. And certainly not five.
  • The Cowboys went heavy at tight end last year because they hadn't signed a fullback yet. They're going heavy again this year because Jason Witten is likely to miss games. Once Witten is back, I don't think they'll carry four tight ends over the whole season.
  • Just one undrafted free agent (Cole Beasley) made the 53-man roster versus four players each in the previous two years. Whether this means that the roster depth has gotten better or that this year's UDFA class wasn't as good as in the previous years remains to be seen.
  • Danny Coale was one of only three fifth-round picks to be cut yesterday. He was also the only Cowboys rookie to be cut. All other NFC East teams also cut at least one draft pick, and in a weird coincidence, all three teams cut sixth-rounders only: The Giants cut tackle Mack McCants, the Redskins cut tackle Tom Compton and the Eagles cut both WR Marvin McNutt and OG Brandon Washington.
  • Five starters from last year are now not with the team anymore. Kyle Kosier and Montrae Holland are the offensive starters that left Dallas, on defense Terence Newman, Abe Elam and Bradie James are not with the Cowboys anymore. And these names only include the players who started more than half the games last year, so guys like Keith Brooking and Martellus Bennett don't even count here. After the 2010 season, the Cowboys jettisoned seven starters, meaning that a little over half the starters have turned over in two years.
  • I don't know whether it's significant, but it's interesting: With the departures of Keith Brooking, Jon Kitna and Montrae Holland, Gerald Sensabaugh is the only free agent acquisition left on the roster from the Wade Phillips years.
  • Only two players are left from the original 12 players chosen in the "Roy Williams draft" (Victor Butler and John Phillips). Counting Patrick Crayton as another RW casualty drives up the cost of that trade even further. Thankfully though, the 53-man roster is a "Williams Free Zone". After having five on the 53-man roster at some point in 2010 (Brandon, Jason, Leon, Roy, Teddy), there is not a single Williams left.
  • Every year, the Cowboys conduct "Dallas Days" for draft eligible prospects from colleges and high schools within the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area. From this year's invitees, WR Cole Beasley made the 53-man roster. Lance Dunbar didn't, but at least made it to the practice squad.
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