This is the time of the offseason where people start trying to figure out which players will snag the final available roster spots. Rabblerousr and Landon McCool did a great job ranking players and offering up some candidates to fill out those last remaining spots. When I put my rankings together, I had a lot of similar names in similar spots, but there were a handful more jobs still available so I wanted to take a look at the remaining bubble guys.
Note: Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain have been included so this roster will consist of 55 players with the understanding that two of them will not be there once they return from their suspension.
To start with, here are the 36 players that I have as roster locks (with their corresponding ranking). There isn't much debate about these player's chances of making the team.
The next group are the guys who seem to be in the driver's seat in locking down a spot. While nothing is guaranteed, it would be surprising if any of these players didn't make the cut.
Since some of these players may not be on your list of "strong candidates" to make the team, I've offered up a quick explanation as to why they should make the team.
37 Tyler Patmon - He demonstrates great work ethic and fight. And now his on-field performance is matching his effort. He's having a strong camp and the coaches love him.
38 Jack Crawford - He bulked up and has played himself into a new gig. A once slow edge rusher is now a quick interior rusher. He's got a good chance to not only make the team, but get a healthy dose of snaps in the DT rotation.
39 Devin Street - In the first preseason game, he showed he can produce when given a chance. There is nobody challenging him for the #4 WR spot.
40 Brandon Weeden - In order to get bounced from the team, one of two things would need to happen. Either he performed poorly or Dustin Vaughan played very well. Neither of those things have happened so you might as well pencil Weeden in as the Cowboys backup QB.
41 Nick Hayden - It's just better that we all come to terms that Hayden isn't going anywhere.
42 Kyle Wilber - To fully appreciate Wilber you need to understand how much the coaches like him. He's doesn't do a lot of things great, but his performance never has you yelling at the television.
43 Jeff Heath - The lack of depth at the safety position and his special teams play make Heath a reliable reserve.
44 Mackenzy Bernadeau - Bernie Mac is a safe play. He'll never be good enough to contest for a starting spot, but he's solid off the bench. Being able to play center also boosts his value.
45 Tyler Clutts - He's doing everything right. His performance thus far in camp seems to identify two things. First, the Cowboys will keep a FB on the roster and second - it won't be Ray Agnew.
46 Jasper Brinkley - For a guy who is guaranteed $2 million, you'd think that would propel him into the "lock" category. Fact of the matter is, he's struggling. The team invested so much in him for a reason so there should be better football showing up soon.
47 Darrion Weems - With the injury to Chaz Green, Weems has bought himself some more time to show what he's got. He's the lead dog for the swing tackle and it doesn't look like he's got much competition.
48 Andrew Gachkar - The dual ability to be a solid reserve linebacker and special team's ace increases his stock. It's always nice to give Rich Bisaccia some viable options to choose from when filling out his units.
So that leaves seven more spots. It gets a little trickier at this point, but here are the players that have the best shot at earning those spots.
49 Ryan Russell
How he makes it: He's got a fifth-round draft grade and is having a good camp. His play is still inconsistant and he's raw. While he may end up being a game day inactive more times than not (especially when Hardy returns), he's too talented to risk allocating to the practice squad.
50 Geoff Swaim
How he makes it: The team traded away a draft pick to keep him off the UDFA market. That means the Cowboys had to have this guy. A good blocking TE is an important attribute in this offensive scheme. If the team decides it doesn't want to keep four tight ends, then it's likely to result in someone being traded, not cut.
51 Lucky Whitehead
How he makes it: If the last WR spot was based solely on receiving ability, then this could be a good battle. Nick Harwell and David Porter have looked good, but Whitehead's real value comes from his punt returning ability.
52 Devon Coleman
How he makes it: He continues to absorb blockers and makes plays at the 1-tech position. A strong camp and good first preseason game puts him on the right track.
53 Lavar Edwards
How he makes it: With the strength at the defensive end position, the team could keep five. With Hardy out of the mix to start the season, this will open up an additional spot and Edwards will be a good fill in. While Ryan Russell is more of a long term answer, a player like Edwards could produce better dividends right now.
54 Dustin Vaughan
How he makes it: The Cowboys invested a roster spot last year to keep him on ice so the coaches see potential in him. With the talent level last season, such an investment wasn't so large. But roster spots are more precious this season and the team won't use a spot for him if he's not showing enough improvement. He still got a few weeks to prove he's worth keeping.
55 Ben Gardner
How he makes it: He has to outplay Edwards. If this was a year ago, Gardner would have a strong chance of making the team. But the DE position is much deeper now and his flashes of good play are just not good enough. He's got to be more consistent. He's also got practice squad eligibility. Another year of developing would be the ideal scenario.
56 Laurence Gibson
How he makes it: The team kept nine offensive lineman last year so if they do that again, Gibson has a good shot. There are not a lot of other quality choices. Gibson is starting to play better as of late. With the team having Chaz Green in their pocket for the future, keeping Gibson around isn't a priority.
57 Ken Bishop
How he makes it: He has to outplay Coleman. While the 2015 version of Bishop looks more impressive than what he did as a rookie last year, the overall shape of the defensive line also looks more impressive.
58 Danny McCray
How he makes it: If neither Corey White nor Byron Jones makes the transition to safety, then McCray would slide in as the #4 guy. His value on special teams helps his cause as well, but McCray is going to have to display some decent contribution on defense to warrant a spot. The team already has a slew of special teams options and there will be some fierce competition for these final spots.
59 Jameill Showers
How he makes it: He has to play comparable to Dustin Vaughan and flash some good upside. His ability to play special teams means his spot wouldn't be exclusive to a third QB spot that is never expected to see the field. It is more likely he lands on the practice squad and serves as a good mirror to help practice against teams with mobile QBs.
60 Keith Smith
How he makes it: If Brinkley struggles, Smith could get an extra few weeks to try out before McClain returns. Smith doesn't offer a whole lot to get excited about so he could be relatively easy to replace if the team had to scrounge around. He had a good first preseason game against San Diego and will need to build upon that if he's going to have a legit shot.
61 Gus Johnson
How he makes it: An injury to McFadden would be his best chance. And even then he'd still have to beat out the veteran RB the team would most likely sign. Right now the team is set on running backs, but with everyone nursing injuries he's still going to get chances to log some more snaps this preseason.
Which bubble players do you think can sneak into the final spots?