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Cowboys News: Why Making The Cowboys’ Roster Is A Lot Harder This Year

When you start looking at 53-man projections, where’s the weak link?

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Dallas Cowboys Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys: Way-too-early Cowboys 53-man roster projection: Whose stock rose after OTAs, minicamp? - Jon Machota, SportsDay

One take on the 53-man roster. It’s pretty close to the direction I would lean. Here’s just one of the groups Machota comments on.

I went thin at some of the other positions so I could go heavy in the defensive backfield. A lot of new pieces being worked in at cornerback, so keeping six doesn't seem like a bad idea. If Marquez White performs well in training camp, I think they'll keep him. Sorry, no Darrelle Revis in this projection. I expect Chidobe Awuzie to make the biggest immediate impact of the rookie defenders.

Three Different Dallas Cowboys 53-Man Roster Projections Heading Into Training Camp - OCC, BtB

OCC, as usual, does a lot of work for us, taking Machota’s list, and comparing it to Brian Broaddus’s take, and our former colleague KD Drummond’s selections. You’ll have to read the article for the results.

I've combined all three projections in the table below. The table highlights the spots that do not yet appear to be locked down, and where there will likely still be 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.

Cowboys Roster Battles: How Many Spots Are Really Open Heading Into Training Camp? - Tom Ryle, BtB

Tom Ryle gives his view of the locks on the roster, and finds most positions already sewn up.

So looking at the “nearly locks”, there are perhaps eight more spots that will be taken by the players mentioned. That really leaves only six roster slots that are truly competitive.

Of course, a lot can change once the pads come on, and the hated injury bug always lurks, as much as we hate to even think about it. The good news is that there are some interesting options. Dallas really seems to have some depth to work with going into camp. And that is not far off now at all.

Overlooked at times, here's what has been most impressive about Cowboys DT Maliek Collins - Kate Hairopoulos, SportsDay

This is part of an on-line chat, so it touches on several topics. Here’s her quick take on Maliek Collins.

It was pretty impressive how he earned a starting role so quickly after missing most of training camp to an injury as a rookie. He had played in a similar system at Nebraska, which helped. He can only get better. He's rather overlooked at times, but that under tackle position is traditionally disruptive in defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli's scheme. Will be interesting to see how he can build on last season. With Terrell McClain gone, will they want him to play nose at times or will Cedric Thornton take over at that spot?

Dez and Scandrick Deserve To Be Voted Team Captains - Jeff Sullivan, The Mothership

Sullivan’s articles are always interesting. This piece is mostly about the title, but he adds this excerpt. It’s time for Garrett to elevate his game.

Of the seven NFL head coaches who are longer tenured with their current team than Garrett, only Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis hasn’t won a Super Bowl. Heck, he hasn’t even won a postseason game. Then again, I’m sure someone would be quick to point out that Garrett has just one playoff win.

Also, by the conclusion of this upcoming season, Garrett will have been the Cowboys’ head coach for as many games (120) as Bill Parcells and Wade Phillips combined.

Who will have more receiving yards this year: Dez Bryant or Cole Beasley? - Kate Hairopoulos, SportsDay

She picked the right answer to this one.

They're both going to get their yards, and Dak Prescott obviously found the slot receiver, Beasley, as a particularly friendly option in his rookie season. But because Prescott is entering Year 2 and he could become more comfortable taking shots downfield, staying in the pocket and connecting with Dez, I'll go with Bryant as long as he's able to stay healthy. Remember, he missed three games last season. Of course, Beasley revealed that he played with a hamstring issue for the latter half of last season, too. Beasley had 75 catches for 833 yards and five touchdowns in 2016. Bryant had 50 catches for 796 yards and eight TDs.

Cowboys player profiles: After career performance last season, what does Cole Beasley have in store for 2017? - David Moore, SportsDay

More on Mr. Beasley.

There's no reason to believe Beasley's status will diminish. The slot receiver built a quick rapport with Prescott that should only improve over time. Prescott has shown he will go through his options and get the ball to the open receiver, and Beasley wins his matchups more often than not.

That doesn't mean his numbers will be the same. The Cowboys' desire to use running back Ezekiel Elliott more as a receiver out of the backfield and the addition of Ryan Switzer could squeeze a few opportunities away from Beasley. A healthy Dez Bryant also factors into the equation.

But even if his receptions and yards drop for the first time, his importance to the Cowboys offense won't.

How “Big Cat” Leon Lett’s Coaching Is Perfect For 1st-Rounder Taco Charlton - Rob Phillips, The Mothership

Lett was a dynamic tackle. How many snaps will Taco get inside?

Lett played 10 seasons in Dallas and was a key contributor on all three Super Bowl teams in the ‘90s. As a slender 6-foot-6 defensive linemen, he was a unique talent who pressured quarterbacks from tackle or end.

Charlton has measurables similar to Lett’s in his playing days: 6-foot-6, 271 pounds, and athletic enough to bend around the edge against offensive tackles.

“They’ll be like basketball players out there, the movement,” defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. “(Lett) is becoming a heck of a teacher. I just really enjoy it. I think he’s helping him a lot.”

Is Dak Prescott Really The 14th Best Player In The NFL? - RJ Ochoa, BtB

Dak got some love from the NFL players, but Mr. Ochoa isn’t convinced. Why not, RJ? If you go off the stat sheet, only Ryan and Brady were better, with Rodgers also right there. And a 13-2 record (can’t hang the Philly loss on anyone) demonstrated his poise. He only had 3 “bad” games on the year, one of which was the opener. The guys people think were “better” would kill for Dak’s consistency.

Understandably, Dak Prescott’s placement on this list is interesting. As Cowboys fans we’ll of course celebrate the notoriety given to him by his peers, but is Dak really the 14th best player in the NFL?

Russell Wilson (24th), Ben Roethlisberger (22nd), and someone Prescott looks up to a lot in Drew Brees (16th) are some of the more notable quarterbacks to be listed behind Prescott. Wilson might inspire a whole new debate, but it’s fair to say that both Big Ben and Brees are certainly better quarterbacks than Dak Prescott at this moment.

Cowboys Secret Ingredient That Will Help Create A Super Bowl-Caliber Defense - Danny Phantom, BtB

What’s the secret ingredient he’s talking about? The new secondary coaches the Cowboys hired last year.

The loss of Carr, Claiborne, Church, and even Wilcox may seem a little concerning considering how well they all performed last year, but that’s too much of a coincidence to just give all these players full credit. The coaches had something to do with it as well. If it’s true that the Baker/Jackson combo is now the winning ticket in Dallas, then you have to love their chances with so many young players with potential.

Were the Cowboys really just that lucky with sixth-round pick Anthony Brown or is it possible that he was coached up to play at the level he played? Too many things went right for the Cowboys secondary to call it a fluke or chalk it up to chance that so many mediocre players elevated their game to a level we hadn’t seen before.

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