In less than four months time, the NFL will be back and dreams will be realized. Getting drafted isn't the end of a dream, it's the beginning. Generally, only players drafted in the third round or higher are guaranteed locks to make an NFL roster. Fourth rounders all the way down to UDFA's have to know that poor performances through the offseason work could end up derailing their dreams before they get off the ground.
The 53-man roster has very little room for promise and potential, it only loves production. On the flip side, should these lower-pedigreed players find their way on the roster, that means that someone else, likely a veteran, will find his agent burning up the phone lines trying to find them a new home. Such is life in the league.
Let's take a look at an entirely too premature prediction as to how the Dallas Cowboys 53-man roster will look come August 30th (final cutdown day). Players preceded by "(S)" are my starters, all rookies are designated by a "*".
A couple of notes.
We're saying goodbye to a good bit of salary here. Kyle Orton, Justin Durant and Jermey Parnell are all over $1 million each. I think WR Byrd was insurance if they couldn't get one of the tall receivers they ended up with, so he's gone, as is FB Tyler Clutts. Nick Hayden and his air guitar? Playing somewhere else. Also worthy of consideration, Cam Lawrence, Orie Lemon and Martez Wilson. The Cowboys linebackers weren't very good, so big turnover shouldn't come as much of a surprise.
I'm leaving the practice squad at seven, because Dallas will undoubtedly make some moves during camp as players get released from other squads. I should probably leave more room, but wanted to make sure to state which of the young guns I feel most have a future. DT Chris Whaley is rumored to be an IR candidate as a redshirt season, so I'm leaving him there instead of the PS.
All in all, I have four rookie starters (Martin, Lawrence, Street and Mandell) out of the draft class and 13 making the initial 53 including 4 UDFAs (Copeland, Boyd, Coleman, Mandell). Knowing how barren the cupboard was coming into the draft, I'm not sure you could ask for much more. We'll have to wait until training camp to see if this is how things shake out in reality.
So, BTB, how does this work for you? Any changes you anticipate here?