Before the start of free agency, we did a ten-part series on a roster breakdown for the Dallas Cowboys. We predicted which players would be re-signed, released and which position groups would be highlighted in free agency and the NFL draft. Now that the free agency period has concluded, let’s take a look back at our predictions.
Quarterback: There is little debate here as the predictions indicated. Dak Prescott will remain the starter and Kellen Moore will be the primary backup. There is still a chance, albeit a small one, that the Cowboys sign a veteran down the road.
Running Back: The Dallas Cowboys continue to reap the benefits from their 2016 draft class as Ezekiel Elliott will remain the starting running back in BigD for years to come. It remains unclear what Dallas will do with Alfred Morris but they did sign Darren McFadden to a team-friendly sub-1 million dollar deal. Unfortunately, Dallas did lose Lance Dunbar in free agency and therefore will likely be in the market for a pass-catching back.
Wide Receiver: Terrence Williams did Dallas an enormous favor by signing a very team-friendly four-year deal. It gives Dallas an opportunity to bring back their entire receiving group which will provide Dak Prescott much needed continuity. Depending on the success during the 2017 season, much of it may be attributed to Dallas re-signing Terrance Williams.
Tight End: Jason Witten recently resigned a four-year contract to solidify his place in Dallas Cowboys history. He will end his career as the most dominant pass-catcher in team history and will be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Dallas has attempted to locate an effective backup for Witten but have been unable to do so. Dallas will continue developing Rico Gathers to pair with backup Geoff Swaim, but if opportunity presents itself in the draft, look for the Cowboys to find a more suitable backup. we’ll have to see if James Hanna can get healthy.
Offensive Line: Our predictions were correct regarding Ronald Leary but the retirement of Doug Free surprised us. As a result, La’el Collins will be slotted to replace Ronald Leary but that means the right tackle position remains open. Depending on how the first few rounds go, look for the Cowboys to continue their draft dominance and draft an offensive tackle.
Defensive Tackle: Dallas added Stephen Paea this offseason to complement their rising sophomore, Maliek Collins. Look for this combination to serve Dallas well, but expect the Cowboys to make the defensive line a priority throughout the draft. Losing Terrell McClain to a division rival may be difficult, but it has also happened in the past with Chris Canty and Stephen Bowen.
Defensive End: Look for DeMarcus Lawrence to lead the defensive end position. Dallas will make the defensive line their primary priority in the draft as they aim to keep the Super Bowl window open as long as possible. While Dallas did not legitimately pursue any “war daddies” in free agency, they are optimistic that youth in the draft and David Irving will give Dallas an adequate pass rush this season.
Linebacker: The linebacker position was quiet over the course of free agency. Dallas will start the season with Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith and Anthony Hitchens moving forward. Time will tell how the Cowboys will possibly mix veteran backups at the linebacker position with young talent.
Cornerback: Much has been made of how decimated the Cowboys secondary got during the free agency. Our own Landon McCool’s BTB podcast presents a potential theory as to how the Cowboys will approach secondary play under Rod Marinelli. Losing Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr may briefly cause issues but Dallas still remains in good shape with Orlando Scandrick, Nolan Carroll, Anthony Brown and an abundance of prospects on their draft board.
Safety: Similar to the cornerback position, our predictions were rather incorrect as Dallas lost both Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox in free agency. Byron Jones will lead the way as pressure mounts of Jeff Heath and Kavon Frazier to step up. Look for the Cowboys to rely heavily on the draft to bring competition to the safety position.
Clearly, our predictions are offense were far more accurate than our predictions on defense. Moving forward, the current roster lends itself to a defensive-heavy draft this April, which was also recently echoed by Stephen Jones.