The five week period before training camp starts up will mean there’s going to be a lot of time where no football is happening. That’s depressing. So what better time to do a complete ranking of the Cowboys roster. Keep in mind, a lot of this will change once things get rolling again. When camp begins, we will continue to track the progress and we’ll be using these arrows to show who’s performing well and who’s slacking.
So let’s get these first ten players stacked.
Players 61-70 are dark horses to make the roster. Most of these guys are really fighting for a practice squad spot.
70 Jameill Showers, S
In 2014, the Cowboys didn’t select the Texas A&M quarterback that everyone was hyping to them. However, in 2015 they grabbed his backup. After playing behind both Ryan Tannehill and Johnny Manziel, Jameill Showers finally transferred to UTEP and had a nice finish to his college career. The change in scenery did him well.
After spending the last two training camps way down the quarterback depth chart, Showers again finds himself changing things up. He has made the conversion to safety as the team finds a way to use him. This could be a career saving move for him as there is no way he’s going to make the team as a quarterback. He’s a viable special teams player and the move to safety allows him to concentrate on those types of plays.
He’s definitely on the outs here, but the coaches like him as a player. If Jason Garrett loves how you approach the game, he’s going to give you every opportunity to make the team. Just ask former linebacker/starting fullback, Keith Smith. It’s just going to come down to whether he can get his game where it needs to be to justify keeping him around.
69 Lucas Wacha, LB
Lucas Wacha is youngest of three brothers that I have nicknamed Wacha, Wacha, Wacha. His oldest brother is Michael Wacha, who pitches for the St. Louis Cardinals. He has another older brother, Charlie, but I have no idea what he does.
The undrafted free agent linebacker is trying to go from the Wyoming Cowboys to the Dallas Cowboys. He’s an aggressive, high-energy guy who had 108 tackles last year, including nine of them for losses. If Wacha does make the team, it could come at the expense of another Wyoming linebacker, Mark Nzeocha, as the third-year veteran is still trying to find his place on the team. There are still a lot of tough decisions to make at the bottom of the linebacker depth.
68 Jeremiah Mckinnon, CB
The coaches see something in Jeremiah McKinnon. After signing and releasing him last year, the team brought him back this season to compete for a roster spot again. The team is deeper than they’ve been in years at the cornerback position, but an injury here or a suspension there could open a window for him. Plus, you never know if some obscure undrafted free agent like a Tyler Patmon or Deji Olatoye will show up and make the team.
67 Dan Skipper, OL
At 6’10”, 311 pounds, Dan Skipper is the biggest player on the team. So it probably wouldn’t be that surprising to hear that he blocked three field goals his freshmen year at Arkansas. He has decent athleticism for a guy his size and strong football IQ. He makes for an intriguing development candidate. But that is really his ceiling this year because he’s got a lot of work to do in order to train his body to be an effective blocker in the NFL. While many are psyched about his size, it’s hard to anchor a big ship like that. With a center of gravity that high, he struggles to center his pad level where it needs to be to drive through defenders.
66 Lenny Jones, DE
The Cowboys have a deep group fighting for roster spots/rotational roles along the defensive line. Only eight made the opening roster last year, but they kept 11 in 2014. This seems like one of those years where 10 seems appropriate based on the talent they have on the roster. That’s not good news for players like Joey Ivie, Jordan Carrell, and Lenny Jones when it comes to making the 53-man roster. These guys all have the practice squad to fall back on and that would be the most ideal spot to land in as they still need plenty of work before they are ready for NFL action.
Lenny Jones was a practice squad player last year, but he was allowed to practice at the Cowboys rookie minicamp. While this undrafted free agent is an unknown, he showed great explosiveness off the ball. If there is an hidden name who’s a darkhorse candidate to make the rotation, it would be Jones.
65 Connor Hamlett, TE
Hamlett is from my college stomping grounds so there is a special place in my heart for this former Oregon State Beaver. I’m pulling for the kid. It’s hard to find much on him as I seem to always come up with Shakespeare stuff whenever I google him. Bryan Broaddus did have this to say about him when pondering if the Cowboys keep four tight ends.
If they carry an extra one, Gathers would have some competition with Connor Hamlett for that spot. I like what I’ve seen from Hamlett’s receiving, route running and blocking. He makes no mental mistakes, and when he was paired with Jason Witten during these practices he didn’t look one bit out of place.
The Cowboys carried four tight ends twice in the last four seasons. The team values an effective blocker which is why they have both James Hanna and Geoff Swaim on the team. If health issues arise or if Rico Gathers struggles, the door could open up for Hamlett.
64 Joseph Jones, LB
The Cowboys love those athletic undrafted free agents. As OCC pointed out, he’s the sparqiest UDFA the team signed this year.
Jones has a SPARQ in the 77th percentile, the highest value of any UDFA the Cowboys brought in, and the second highest of this entire rookie class (behind only Chidobe Awuzie, 98th percentile), so he is my natural choice.
Which explains why he’s OCC’s pet cat this year.
Simply making the practice squad would already be a success for Jones, though there's a chance he could move up to the 53-man roster first as a special teams ace, and then maybe as a contributor on defense at some point. His pass coverage skills saw him lining up in the slot frequently in Northwestern’s pass defense last year, and his athleticism (he ran a 4.49 at his pro day, which would have made him the second fastest LB at the Combine behind Jabrill Peppers) give him the type of versatility the Cowboys like.
The competition is stiff as the team has a few interesting low-flying linebackers at their disposal. The front four is locked down with Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, Anthony Hitchens, and Damien Wilson. And Kyle Wilber and Mark Nzeocha aren’t going to give up their spots that easy. That leaves little room, if any, for a new linebacker to squeeze his way on the team.
63 Jordan Carrell, DT
A 6’3” 300 pound Colorado Buffalo, Jordan Carrell brings some great mobility for a guy his size. He’s a high-energy guy as the coaching staff values players that don’t quit. Most of the defensive line depth is along the edge so there might be a little more room for guys on the inside to work their way on this team down the road. Defensive tackles Cedric Thorton and Tyrone Crawford both have some overpriced salaries in the future that the Cowboys might look to get out of. That means a younger, cheaper player who shows promise could be an eventual replacement.
Our own Dawn Macelli had the opportunity to talk with the people over at SB Nation’s Colorado website, The Ralphie Report, and she has selected Carrell as her pet cat. She had this to say about him:
The effort that he put into transitioning from the JUCO level to major college football gives us a look at the type of effort he will put in for the Cowboys. He is dedicated to improving himself both physically and mentally. Carrell is one of those guys one needs in the locker room. He may not have the pedigree or even talent of some other players but he more than makes up for that with his work ethic.
62 Nate Theaker, OL
Dallas didn’t invest any draft picks on an offensive lineman for the second straight season after drafting four of them over the previous five season, including three All Pros. But that doesn’t mean the team isn’t on the look out for a good find. The Cowboys don’t typically go for small school players, but when the 6’5”, 315 pound lineman from Wayne State (not Bruce Wayne, if that’s what you’re thinking) didn’t get drafted, the Cowboys moved in and signed him as a UDFA. He can play inside and he can play outside. That will certainly appeal to offensive line coach, Frank Pollack.
Former BTB writer K.D. Drummond reported that Theaker was one of Mel Kiper’s top 25 players that didn’t get drafted. Here is what he had to say about him:
The more I watched Theaker’s tape, the more I liked him. He played both left and right tackle and some guard for the Warriors, and he was just dominating Division II defenders. At 6-foot-5, 315 pounds, he doesn’t have the arm length (32 5/8) to play tackle in the NFL, but he could develop at guard. He played stronger than his 23 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press at the combine. He could be a seventh-round pick with future starter potential.
61 Lucky Whitehead, WR
Rather than paying Dwayne Harris $3.5 million a year like the New York Giants did, the Cowboys went the cheap route and handed over the kick return duties to undrafted free agent Lucky Whitehead. Over the last two seasons he’s returned 77 kick/punts, but has yet to take one to the house. The team drafted college punt return star Ryan Switzer in the fourth round and he should slide into that role for the Cowboys. This puts a big dent in Whitehead’s chances of making the team.
Of course Lucky could still have value in the offense. There was a point last year where offensive coordinator Scott Linehan was getting him involved on a weekly basis.
But a jet sweep here and there won’t be enough to justify a roster spot and with a slew of talent at the wide receiver position, things aren’t looking good for Whitehead.
Lucky is a fun-loving character. If you’re having a party, he’s one of the first guys you’d want to invite. It’s nice to have fun and all, but winning football games is a serious business and Lucky’s time is running out in Dallas.
What do you think about this group of players. Are there any guys you think has a good shot to make the team?
Stay tuned for the next ten players as we get our first look at the bubble boys.