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Cowboys Bubble Watch: A Revised Look At The Top 53 Players, Regardless of Position

The much-maligned Kevin Ogletree debuts at roster spot # 36.
The much-maligned Kevin Ogletree debuts at roster spot # 36.

Almost two weeks ago, based on the first week of training camp practices, I authored an initial foray into the Cowboys regular season roster, the celebrated "53." As you know, the normal "53" man roster posts look at the top players by each position group, taking into account the necessary juggling that invariably accompanies the bottom-of-the-roster decisions: does the team take a sixth receiver over a ninth linebacker? A second kicker over, well, any other position player? Because this doesn't fully take into account the talent distribution across the team, I decided to list what I thought to be the top 53 players, independent of position.

Some of the roster questions we posed two weeks ago, such as who might emerge as the team's fifth corner, have been answered (Mario Butler). Myriad others loom, unanswered, however: with several more training camp practices and two preseason games under our collective belts, how has this list shifted? How much roster movement has there been in the past two weeks, and at what positions? What part of the roster has seen the greatest churn? Which positions? How well does the "top 53" correlate to the standard position group numbers?

Related: Dallas Cowboys Roster: Who Are The Top 53 Regardless Of Position?

As before, my rankings reflect the best players on the team as of today, and are greatly influenced by my perceptions of players in training camp. Determining the top 53 was actually fairly easy. Ranking them was more difficult - even more difficult that the first attempt - because we have seen so little of players like Matt Johnson and Danny Coale. Can I include them on the top 53 in good conscience when neither has taken a full-contact snap this offseason? How good are they, and players like Nate Livings, Lance Dunbar, and Saalim Hakim? How about returnees like Mike Jenkins and Anthony Spencer? I can't honestly tell, so I've tried to make fair, educated guesstimates.

To see Rabble's latest guesstimates, make the jump...

To make this list, I started with the original, and then moved players' names up and down until it reflected what I thought was the current state of the roster. If a player has moved up or down from his original position, that movement will be shown after his name. If he's in the same slot he was two weeks ago there will be no notation. New additions to the list will be noted in italics, and I'll conclude with a list of the guys who have fallen from the favor of the 53. Okay, here goes:

1. DeMarcus Ware, OLB
2. Tony Romo, QB
3. Dez Bryant, WR (+1)
4. Brandon Carr, CB (-1)
5. Sean Lee, ILB
6. Jason Witten, TE
7. Miles Austin, WR
8. DeMarco Murray, RB (+1)
9. Tyron Smith, OT (-1)
10. Dan Bailey, K

11. Jay Ratliff, NT
12. Jason Hatcher, DE
13. Anthony Spencer, OLB
14. Doug Free, OT
15. Morris Claiborne, CB
16. Bruce Carter, ILB (+3)
17. Kyle Orton, QB (-1)
18. Felix Jones, RB (-1)
19. Mike Jenkins, CB (-1)
20. Sean Lissemore, DL (+1)

21. John Phillips, TE (+1)
22. Gerald Sensabaugh, S (+1)
23. Barry Church, S (+4)
24. Dan Connor, ILB (-4)
25. Lawrence Vickers, FB (+1)
26. Orlando Scandrick, CB (-2)
27. Tyrone Crawford, DE (-2)
28. Victor Butler, OLB (+4)
29. Nate Livings, OG (+1)
30. Marcus Spears, DE (+4)

31. Alex Albright, OLB (+9)
32. James Hanna, TE (+14)
33. Kyle Wilber, OLB (-4)
34. Jermey Parnell, OT
35. Danny McCray, S (+4)
36. Kevin Ogletree, WR
37. Orie Lemon, ILB (+5)
38. Kenyon Coleman, DE (-7)
39. Cole Beasley, WR
40. Phil Costa, OC (-7)

41. Mackenzie Bernadeau, OG
42. Dwayne Harris, WR (+6)
43. Adrian Hamilton, OLB (+6)
44. Josh Brent, NT (-8)
45. David Arkin, OG
46. Phillip Tanner, RB (-3)
47. Ben Bass, DE
48. Mario Butler, CB/ S
49. Jamize Olawale, RB
50. Clifton Geathers, DL (-21)
51. Chris Jones, P
52. Ronald Leary, OG (-14)
53. L.P. Ladouceur, LS

Booted from from the previous 53:

37. Rob Callaway, DL
44. Kevin Kowalski, OC
47. Raymond Radway, WR
50. Bill Nagy, OG
51. Matt Johnson, S
52. Andre Holmes, WR

A few scattered thoughts in response to this list:

- Currently, the soft spot in the roster is at positions 11-20, which is largely populated by talented players who have struggled or been largely invisible recently, mostly due to injury. Four players in that group - Ratliff, Hatcher, Spencer, and Mike Jenkins - haven't played a snap in either preseason game and two others - Claiborne and Felix Jones - are still working to get into football shape after missing the bulk of the offseason with injuries. When healthy, these guys can be Scotty Pippens to Tony Romo's and DeMarcus Ware's Jordan. But to be that kind of playmaking supporting player, they all have to get healthy. Until they do, that area of the roster is cause for concern.

- Notice that the majority of players who fell from the previous 53 were "bubble" guys. In revisiting this exercise, I noticed that there has been very little movement at the top of the roster; the bottom, however, has seen some churn, as it probably should: a good organization is always churning positions 45-53, and one of the larger purposes of training camp is to work those roster slots. I'd expect them to continue to rotate, and wouldn't be surprised to see a guy like Callaway or Holmes work his way back onto the master list.

- The front seven continues to show surprising depth. With players like Alex Albright, Orie Lemon, and Adrian Hamilton flashing in games, the linebacking corps, which was decimated before free agency started, now looks like a real strength. In my earlier post, I speculated that a guy like Marcus Spears, competing with a cadre of promising youngsters, would have a hard time surviving the cutdown (and his recent play suggests that he felt this way, too). Now, he looks like a terrific veteran backup, and the team has seeming bounty on the D-line. Obviously, this is a good thing, but it further complicates matters. As before, the question is now whether they will have to chop a talented front seven player to achieve sufficient depth at a thinner position such as offensive line.

- The interior of the offensive line continues to occupy spots too far down on this list to make me comfortable - and, with the likes of Kevin Kowalski and Bill Nagy dropping off altogether, is even thinner than it was two weeks ago. At present, the starting interior O-line sit at positions 29, 40 and 41. That said, I suspect that, when healthy and working together, they can rise up this list; a major contributor to their respective ranking is a lack of familiarity. And we have to hope that, when Livings and Costa do return, it's for the long haul; the interior backups fill slots 45 and 52. If one of the starters sustains any kind of lengthy injury, we're looking at a bottom-of-the-roster replacement.

- The Cowboys have to hope for more rotation in the WR rankings, specifically that either Holmes or Radway make a move. Both have the size the team covets out wide. Complicating matters is that of the guys who made a move against the Chargers, two - Beasley and Harris - essentially play the same positions: slot receiver and punt returner. Ideally, a player with a different profile will be able to displace one of them. The good news is that Kevin Ogletree has come on of late, and seems finally to be playing like the WR3 that the team has believed he can be.

- Time is running out for players like Matt Johnson and Danny Coale, who we've never seen play. There's a reason they, and Kevin Kowalski, aren't on this list: we haven't seen them play. At all. Other injured guys are also slipping into jeopardy. If Phillip Tanner doesn't come back soon -and with a vengeance - he won't be on the next iteration of this list.

Whaddya think, BTBers? Go to the comments section and let 'Ol Rabble know what you agree with here...and what you dont!


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