The Cowboys had a day off yesterday. But that doesn't mean there's nothing was going on at Valley Ranch. The Cowboys coaches were almost certainly busy watching film from Saturday's game against the Ravens and reviewing their practice notes from last week. And one of the things they were likely doing in the process is slotting their players into some kind of a depth chart; a depth chart they have been building since the start of OTAs and one that is constantly being reconfigured.
So we're going to do a similar exercise today and take a look at what the Cowboys' final 53-man roster could look like based on what we've seen so far in training camp and in the two preseason games. To do that, we're going to look at three separate projections. One from Todd Archer published yesterday on ESPN Dallas, another one from Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News published today, and a final one from BTB's rabblerousr, also published yesterday. What all three projections have in common is that they were put together after the Ravens game, and perhaps more importantly, they were put together by people who were in attendance in Oxnard.
I've combined all three projections in the table below. The table highlights (in yellow) the spots that do not yet appear to be locked down, and where there is still competition for a roster spot. Look closely and you'll see that there aren't many of those spots left, if these three projections are anything to go by.
|Todd Archer, ESPN
||Jon Machota, DMN
As we saw last month when we looked at the Top Five Pitfalls Of Early 53-man Roster Projections, these roster projections may feel like they have a certain degree of certitude and finality, but they don't, not really. It's still early in the process, and players are bound to rise and fall, and there may yet be some surprise cuts and late additions that nobody saw coming. With that in mind, here a few thoughts on three projections above.
Quarterbacks: The Cowboys may still choose to have a developmental guy on the roster, but right now it looks like that guy will be doing his developing on the practice squad. This may change over the next couple of games if Vaughan shows up again, but for now it's Tony Romo and Brandon Weeden, and that's it.
Running backs: The Cowboys have gone with three backs in most of the previous years. Given the needs on the defensive line, both Tyler Clutts and Ryan Williams face long odds to make the roster.
Tight ends: Three guys looks like all they'll have here. Remember when the Cowboys started last year with five TEs on the roster? Those were the days.
Wide receivers: Possibly the least surprising projection of any position group, and has been since the draft.
Offensive line: Will they go short and only keep eight offensive linemen?
Defensive Line: Rabble kept DeMarcus Lawrence on his 53-man roster, Archer and Machota both assume the Cowboys will use the short-term IR designation on Lawrence. All three projections have Anthony Spencer on the roster. That's one to two roster spots that may have to be used on injured or rehabbing players, and Amobi Okoye isn't even factored into that equation yet. Plus, unless the Cowboys are willing to lose Ben Gardner to another team, he'll have to make the 53-man roster before the Cowboys can safely move him to IR. Lots of uncertainty here that may force the Cowboys to go longer than any of the above projections accounts for.
Linebacker: Not much clarity here, though the questions here are less about the guys at the bottom of the depth chart, and more about where Rolando McClain will fit and what the trickle-down effect of that will be. What kind of trade value does Bruce Carter have?
Secondary: Orlando Scandrick doesn't count against the 53-man roster limit as long as he's suspended. Outside of Scandrick, all three projections have the same ten guys making the roster - what are the odds of that happening?
If the consensus here holds true, and assuming that Ben Gardner makes it to IR, eight of the Cowboys' nine draft picks make the roster, with seventh-round pick Will Smith the odd man out. Also, if Davon Coleman makes the roster, the Cowboys would continue their successful tradition of having an UDFA make their opening-day roster. And with the league moving to a 10-man practice squad, there's a good chance more UDFAs make the roster over the course of the season.
What's your take on the combined projections above, and which of your pet cats did the three camp reporters slight?