Dallas Cowboys Roster Cuts 2013: Down To 75; Roster Builder Update

Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys have trimmed their roster in anticipation of their final preseason game as the league deadline approaches. What does this mean going forward?

The Cowboys have completed their first round of cuts.

Our own rabblerousr recently opined on the subject of this year's cuts - and every year's, for that matter - being of little surprise to the coaches making them. The primary assertion made is that injury, rather than emergent performance, is the primary agent of change to rosters that are largely set before camp opens.

And this makes perfect sense. The NFL is a year-round business. Pro and college scouts are working constantly to sharpen their knowledge on every man remotely close to playing in the NFL.

Assume for a moment that you have perfect scouting (as you would in most football simulations, where players are collections of known values). You know before preseason how exactly your roster looks from 1-90, and even beyond that - as you're entirely aware of the abilities of every player available through trade or free agency.

In that situation, the only possible way for one's roster to change is through injury. Any 'great' preseason performance by a low-rated player would be a fluke; averages will catch up to the below-average players and punish anyone foolish enough to hold onto a Cinderella story.

Of course, we don't have perfect scouting, as much as we might hope for it. Still, professional scouts are much closer to that ideal perfection than the layman's (or broadcaster's, reporter's, etc.) interpretation of any given player's abilities. Thus, the roster developments in camp, for the near-ideal scouts, are very predictable, while for the untrained eyes, my pair included, the shifts in the depth chart are riveting (after all, we're learning something that they knew all along).

What I really want to talk about, however, is not the scouting departments masterful evaluation of talent, but rather the gap between their abilities and the ideal described above.

Imperfect evaluation can happen. Take, for example, JaMarcus Russell. The Oakland Raiders were far from the only team that had Russell listed as the number one prospect for that year. The Baltimore Ravens, renowned for their expertise in player acquisition, had Russell on the top of their board in 2007, as "the highest grade Baltimore ever had on any player heading into the draft." This alone should illustrate that player evaluators can be wrong - but it isn't as simple as that.

Human beings, like it or not, are never known quantities - not to themselves and certainly not to outside evaluators. Capabilities, especially those that are difficult to measure (the so-called 'intangibles'), can improve or decline rapidly, especially during an experience as intensive as the Dallas Cowboys' training camp.

What does this have to do with the Cowboys roster and the recent cut to 75? Everything, of course.

Although Cowboys coaches likely, just as rabblerousr said, had a solid plan for which 53 players they'd keep on the roster by preseason's end, it is an impossibility that the knowledge used to construct that plan was perfect, and an inevitability that the process of training camp and the NFL preseason improves the knowledge with which the final roster would be constructed. If there was no new knowledge to be gained, preseason would largely be an exercise in futility - glorified, televised practice sessions.

The specific cuts that were made reveal where the Cowboys are not yet satisfied with their evaluations. As evidence of this, consider that the most recent additions to the roster, at positions of depth (presumably the players we were least interested in, as we waited before acquiring them), were not the first to be cut. The Cowboys have not finished evaluating them and, while they may not turn out better than the players already cut, there is no harm in evaluating them in one final meaningless game.

The Cowboys made their cuts, and chose each for one specific reason or another. The final round of cuts will be far more interesting, and the reasons even more varied, as evaluation fades from a priority to a luxury.

The roster builder now reflects this recent cut-down and is ready for you to whittle your way down to 53.

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