With the draft just days behind us, it is ridiculous, verging on the insane, to try and make a prediction for the final Dallas Cowboys 53-man roster. But then, it is even more so to try and assign a grade to each team's draft, since it takes three years or so to really determine how it worked out. And yet everyone and their Cuban aunt is offering their evaluation of the picks, so why not engage in a little fantasy? Heck, I even throw in some hints about how I think the season will go. (Spoiler alert: I am sipping that tasty Kool-Aid again.)
This is, above all, a look at what I think is a best case scenario. It also is a bit of whimsy, as I think you will see. But now is the time for unbridled optimism. It also is a chance to play out some intriguing ideas that occurred to me during a bout of insomnia. So that may be a small indication of just how crazy some of this is, but I have long felt sanity is vastly overrated.
Besides, I don't think this is totally outside the realm of possibility. Well, maybe a few of my speculations about some ancillary things are. But this is all for fun.
And you know that we will all be doing these in a few months, so I figure, why not get an early start? Think of it as my version of FIRST!
My SWAG after the jump.
Starters in italics.
Quarterbacks (3): Tony Romo, Kyle Orton, Nathan Dick. Kyle will spend 14 1/2 games on the bench, as Tony has a healthy year. He and Nathan, who is a gift from heaven for those loving to make jokes in the comments, will finally see action at the end of the season after Dallas clinches the number one seed in the NFC.
(Stephen McGee will sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars after being cut. With seven games to go in the season, he will replace Blaine Gabbert as the starter, and lead the team to a 4-3 record the rest of the way, getting a new contract as a result. Also, when the world does not end on December 21st, the fact that Stephen and Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins will give Texas A&M two starting NFL quarterbacks will be pointed to as proof that the Mayans did accurately predict a major shift in the space/time continuum.)
Running back (3): DeMarco Murray, Felix Jones, Lance Dunbar. Lance, the 5'8" product of North Texas, will see a decent amount of playing time spelling DeMarco and filling in for about 3 1/2 games as DeMarco and Felix nurse minor injuries. He will prompt somewhat overblown comparisons to Maurice Jones-Drew.
Fullback (1): Lawrence Vickers. See the ILB list also.
Tight end (3): Jason Witten, John Phillips, James Hanna. James shows some flair at catching the ball. Nothing spectacular, just enough to make sure everyone forgets Martellus what's-his-name.
Wide Receivers (6): Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Raymond Radway, Dwayne Harris, Andre Holmes, Donavan Kemp. Donavan emerges as a punt returner, which is what earns him a spot on the team. Some of you are probably disappointed that I do not see fifth round pick Danny Coale making the team. Well, I suggest you read on.
Offensive tackle (4): Tyron Smith, Doug Free, Jermey Parnell, Jeff Adams. Jermey continues to develop, and Jeff provides valuable depth.
Offensive guard (3): Nate Livings, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Bill Nagy. The two free agent signings prove the team right, and Bill comes back from his injury as a key backup for the team.
Center (2): Phil Costa, Kevin Kowalski. Phil proves that the improvement in the last eight games of the season was legitimate, and winds up in the PFF ratings so beloved around here just outside of the top ten centers in the league. With the help of Nate and Mackenzy, he keeps Tony healthy and opens holes for the running game.
Safety (4): Gerald Sensabaugh, Brodney Pool, Danny McCray, Matt Johnson. Matt starts to come on in the second half of the season.
Cornerback (6): Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick, Justin Taplin-Ross, Lionel Smith, Isaac Madison. Lionel and Isaac become UDFA finds, especially on special teams. Mike Jenkins gets his wish and is traded to the New England Patriots for a conditional fifth-round pick. He becomes a starter and gets a new contract in December. In January, the Patriots lose a playoff game to the Denver Broncos when he gives up on a couple of plays in the fourth quarter.
Inside Linebacker (4): Sean Lee, Dan Connor, Bruce Carter, Caleb McSurdy. Dan is the nominal starter, but Bruce winds up getting more snaps over the season due to his superior play in passing situations. Caleb becomes a special teams beast, and also serves as a backup fullback, even though he prefers to think of himself as a linebacker.
Outside Linebacker (4): DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Victor Butler, Kyle Wilber. No one is more pleased over the Pick 6 trade than these guys. DWare gets 18 sacks on the season, Anthony adds 8 1/2 and three forced fumbles, Victor has 5 1/2 sacks, and Kyle gets one deflected pass which DWare catches and takes in for a touchdown.
Defensive line (6): Jay Ratliff, Jason Hatcher, Sean Lissemore, Tyrone Crawford, Josh Brent, Clifton Geathers. Tyrone has immediate impact, and bumps Hatcher as starter mid-season. This bunch adds 14 sacks among them as Dallas finally gets some pressure up the middle.
Placekicker (1): Dan Bailey. He also kicks off. Just sayin'.
Punter (1): Danny Coale. Joe DeCamillis convinces him to try punting, since he averaged 43 yards in his 13 attempts in college. In the second preseason game, with a 4th and 3 at the Dallas 47 yard line, he fakes the punt and goes 36 yards before being pushed out of bounds. He also has 62 yards on two kickoff returns. The team uses the fake punt again in the each of the final two preseason games, and he wins the job with their success. The team only calls the fake three times during the regular season, converting two of them, but the threat of him forces other teams to adjust, resulting in a very high percentage of fair catches, and he ends the season with the fourth highest net punting average in the league. He winds up also being in the top ten for kickoff returners, and seeing spot duty as a wide receiver. As a result, Danny White is mentioned in every game the Dallas Cowboys play, especially when Joe Buck is calling the game.
One unfortunate result of this, which becomes one of the more popular stories in the league, is that DeCamillis is hailed as a genius, and as a result is hired away by the Houston Texans, who like former Dallas people. He is given the title of Assistant Head Coach in addition to his special teams duties. This does not pan out all that well, however, due to the discord created by Joe's insistence on calling Wade Phillips "cupcake".
Long snapper (1): David Arkin. David's development allows L.P. LaDouceur to retire, something he has wanted. This also effectively gives the team another backup lineman, since he is a capable of filling in as the regular center and at guard, and in turn allows the team to only carry seven other offensive linemen on the game day active roster without worry.
But wait. There's more.
Practice squad: OG Ron Leary, OT Levy Adcock, WR Cole Beasley, TE Andrew Szczerba, RB Darrell Scott, DE Adrian Hamilton, DE Aston Whiteside. The team also signs a punter as insurance for Coale.
There you go, a true best case scenario. You will notice that every one of the draft choices makes the roster. This alone probably means it ain't gonna happen. But I would love to see this roster, crazy as some of it might seem.