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Eight different 53-man roster predictions for the Cowboys

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The BTB front page writers offer up their take on how the Cowboys 53-man roster will turn out.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

With only two more preseason games left before the season begins, we are now starting to get a better feel for how the roster is shaping up. There have been a lot of discussions about which players make the team and who should be left off. Some rookie players who seemed destined for the practice squad are starting to show out to where fans are worried they may not make it through waivers. There are going to be some tough decisions ahead for the Cowboys.

It’s fun to try to predict the 53-man roster and so the writing staff here at BTB decided to give it a go. Here are eight different rosters for your viewing pleasure.

Note: Currently, there are three players slated to serve suspensions (Ezekiel Elliott, David Irving, and Damontre Moore). For that reason, we have allocated three extra spots (highlighted in yellow) for players who will make the team until the suspended players return.

QUARTERBACK

Danny
Phantom
OCC Tom
Ryle
VAfan Cole
Patterson
RJ Ochoa Michael
Sisemore
Manik
Aggarwal
Dak Prescott Dak Prescott Dak Prescott Dak Prescott Dak Prescott Dak Prescott Dak Prescott Dak Prescott
Cooper Rush Cooper Rush Kellen Moore Cooper Rush Cooper Rush Cooper Rush Cooper Rush Cooper Rush
Cooper Rush Kellen Moore Kellen Moore Kellen Moore

It seemed like a few weeks ago that keeping Kellen Moore on the roster was the grown up thing to do. It’s safe. It’s responsible. But that feeling has faded for some of us. So much in fact, that not only has Cooper Rush jumped ahead Moore, but half of us have sent him packing. Tom Ryle and VAfan don’t think Moore is going to be left off the roster.

Ryle:

Kellen Moore is the QB2 for this team, no matter how much it grieves some of us.

VAfan:

This is my selection for what I think the Cowboys will do, not what I would do. I would cut Kellen Moore in a nanosecond and not look back. After last year, Dak Prescott proved a rookie quarterback who can demonstrate leadership on the field and make throws (Rush) is much better than an "experienced" player who still looks like a deer staring into headlights (Moore).

While we may be torn on Moore, there is a consensus that Cooper Rush should occupy a roster stop. Rush leads all quarterbacks in touchdowns this preseason with four. Are you really going to try to sneak this guy on the practice squad? None of us think so.

Tom explains his position on Rush.

Ryle:

I am working on the assumption that the staff sees a little too much from him to risk waivers in a quarterback hungry league. It is a high cost to use a spot on the roster for another player that is guaranteed to be inactive each game, but nothing is as valuable there as a quarterback with promise. The team will have some idea before the final cut of how much interest there might be (although that is not always perfect, of course). That will likely drive how they handle him. If they think there is not as much interest as many fans do, then they could still try to get him to the PS, possibly with a deal similar to the one they gave Gathers last year, paying him essentially rookie roster money. That would likely keep him around for a year of development, which is really what they would prefer to do, I believe.

Based on what we’ve seen in the preseason, it sure doesn’t look like a very tough decision.

Patterson:

Rush has clearly outplayed Moore in every way this preseason. The undrafted rookie out of Central Michigan simply takes the offense to a level that the former Boise State star cannot. Rush, 6-foot-2, 216, has the size advantage over Moore, but more importantly he gives the offense a swagger that the team doesn't play with when number 17 is behind center. While the season is likely over if Dak is out for an extended period of time, Rush at least brings confidence.

It may be a scary thought to enter the season with Rush as the team’s number two, but for many of us - it’s even more scary to think of having to rely on Kellen.

RUNNING BACK

Danny
Phantom
OCC Tom
Ryle
VAfan Cole
Patterson
RJ Ochoa Michael
Sisemore
Manik
Aggarwal
Ezekiel Elliott Ezekiel Elliott Ezekiel Elliott Ezekiel Elliott Ezekiel Elliott Ezekiel Elliott Ezekiel Elliott Ezekiel Elliott
Darren McFadden Darren McFadden Darren McFadden Darren McFadden Darren McFadden Darren McFadden Darren McFadden Darren McFadden
Alfred Morris Rod Smith Alfred Morris Alfred Morris Rod Smith Rod Smith Alfred Morris Alfred Morris
Rod Smith Keith Smith Rod Smith Rod Smith Alfred Morris Alfred Morris Rod Smith Rod Smith
Keith Smith Keith Smith Keith Smith Keith Smith Keith Smith Keith Smith Keith Smith

There is an agreement among everyone that the team will keep Rod Smith on the roster. Where the difference shows up is what to do with Alfred Morris. I have him as the team’s number two RB and VAfan has him as a placeholder while Ezekiel Elliott is suspended. Then there is OCC who doesn’t even have him making the team and offers up this explanation.

OCC:

Now it gets tricky.

I think Elliott gets suspended, but I don't think he'll miss any games this year. Maybe next year of the year after. I may be wrong of course, but keeping Elliott on my roster allows me to move Alfred Morris off the roster.

Based on the how the playing time was distributed against the Colts, the team still has McFadden as the #2 and Morris #3. And will Morris just drop off the roster completely when Zeke returns? VAfan thinks so.

VAfan:

When McFadden returned last year, Morris was inactive. Even though Alfred has slimmed down and looks better, he's the logical cut when Zeke returns. Rod Smith looks good as a runner, and produces on special teams. He has more value.

Patterson:

Assuming Ezekiel Elliott serves his six game suspension to open the 2017 season, the Cowboys desperately need a back to step up in the backfield and take pressure off of Dak. Darren McFadden will likely be the lead guy, but Alfred Morris is also a very capable ball carrier. He has three 1,000 yard seasons and looked impressive early last season. Another option is Rod Smith. Smith is having a very solid training camp and has looked good during the preseason. His versatility in the run game and the receiving game gives him a chance to carve out a role in the Cowboys' backfield.

WIDE RECEIVER

Danny
Phantom
OCC Tom
Ryle
VAfan Cole
Patterson
RJ Ochoa Michael
Sisemore
Manik
Aggarwal
Dez Bryant Dez Bryant Dez Bryant Dez Bryant Dez Bryant Dez Bryant Dez Bryant Dez Bryant
Terrance Williams Terrance Williams Terrance Williams Terrance Williams Terrance Williams Terrance Williams Terrance Williams Terrance Williams
Cole Beasley Brice Butler Cole Beasley Cole Beasley Cole Beasley Cole Beasley Cole Beasley Cole Beasley
Ryan Switzer Cole Beasley Brice Butler Brice Butler Brice Butler Brice Butler Brice Butler Ryan Switzer
Brice Butler Ryan Switzer Ryan Switzer Ryan Switzer Ryan Switzer Ryan Switzer Ryan Switzer Brice Butler
Noah Brown Noah Brown

We can all agree that the fabulous five are locked and loaded. And that would be where it would end except that Cole Patterson and I find a way to keep Noah Brown on the roster. Allow us to explain.

Patterson:

You have to keep him. He has the talent and the potential to develop into a reliable wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys. He possesses the size (6-foot-2, 220+) needed to battle with the bigger defensive backs across the division for jump balls, has shown reliable hands during the preseason, and seems to be a player with a high ceiling. His frame allows him to box out defenders, and he showed that he is a willing blocker during his collegiate career. Brown definitely can grow into another big red zone target for Dak Prescott. If you choose to cut him to place him on practice squad, you risk the chance of another team taking a chance on the Ohio State product. If it comes down to keeping Moore as the third quarterback or Brown as the sixth receiver, I believe you go with the latter. While carrying six receivers may be a lot, Brown looks to be worth the investment.

Phantom:

The Cowboys want Brown on this team, whether it’s now or later. Even though the team had five other WRs they liked, that didn’t stop them from drafting him. He may have been more of a development project at first, but his progress is indicating he could be exactly what they’re hoping for. Sure, roster spots are precious, but the Cowboys are in the business of retaining the young talent they like and if a surprise veteran is cut (Kellen Moore or Bryon Bell), they could end up with an extra spot.

But others are just saying “No-ah” to Brown.

Ryle:

My reasoning for only going with five WRs is that the team can also stash some players on the PS to call up if needed, and the sixth WR is almost guaranteed to be inactive for Dallas on game day. No need to tie up a roster spot there.

VAfan:

There's no reason for the Cowboys to keep six receivers. They haven't done so at cut down day at any point in the last five years. Rico Gathers gives them a big receiving threat, and he's much more of a mismatch than a sixth wideout. The Cowboys did bring up Vince Mayle last year, and he played 29 snaps over five games, but that's because the team was short at tight end, not receiver, after Swaim was hurt. He didn't come in when Dez was hurt.

TIGHT END

Danny
Phantom
OCC Tom
Ryle
VAfan Cole
Patterson
RJ Ochoa Michael
Sisemore
Manik
Aggarwal
Jason Witten Jason Witten Jason Witten Jason Witten Jason Witten Jason Witten Jason Witten Jason Witten
James Hanna James Hanna Geoff Swaim Rico Gathers Rico Gathers Geoff Swaim Rico Gathers Rico Gathers
Geoff Swaim Geoff Swaim James Hanna James Hanna James Hanna Rico Gathers Geoff Swaim James Hanna
Rico Gathers Rico Gathers Rico Gathers Geoff Swaim Geoff Swaim James Hanna James Hanna Geoff Swaim

There might be a difference in how we rank each guy, but all of us are in agreement that these four are locks. There was once a day where Rico Gathers spot was in question, but as Tom explains, that day is gone.

Ryle:

Rico Gathers is also a lock, which we all do agree on, because he has exhibited so many traits that NFL teams look for in a receiving tight end, and is actually more valuable to some other systems that value blocking less than Dallas does.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Danny
Phantom
OCC Tom
Ryle
VAfan Cole
Patterson
RJ Ochoa Michael
Sisemore
Manik
Aggarwal
Tyron Smith Tyron Smith Tyron Smith Tyron Smith Tyron Smith Tyron Smith Tyron Smith Tyron Smith
Zack Martin Zack Martin Zack Martin Jonathan Cooper Zack Martin Travis Frederick Travis Frederick Travis Frederick
Travis Frederick Travis Frederick Travis Frederick Travis Frederick Travis Frederick Zack Martin Zack Martin Zack Martin
La'el Collins La'el Collins La'el Collins Zack Martin La'el Collins La'el Collins La'el Collins La'el Collins
Chaz Green Chaz Green Jonathan Cooper La'el Collins Jonathan Cooper Chaz Green Jonathan Cooper Jonathan Cooper
Jonathan Cooper Jonathan Cooper Chaz Green Chaz Green Chaz Green Jonathan Cooper Chaz Green Chaz Green
Joe Looney Joe Looney Joe Looney Joe Looney Joe Looney Joe Looney Joe Looney Joe Looney
Emmett Cleary Emmett Cleary Emmett Cleary Emmett Cleary Emmett Cleary Emmett Cleary Byron Bell Emmett Cleary
Byron Bell Byron Bell Byron Bell Byron Bell Byron Bell Emmett Cleary Byron Bell

We almost are in full agreement regarding how the offensive line should look, except I have no love for Byron Bell. If the Cowboys do in fact, hold on to nine offensive linemen, I’d be inclined to say that Kadeem Edwards makes it before Bell. Tom explains why he would hang on to Bell at least a little longer.

Ryle:

Byron Bell is shaky, but I just think they will want to hang onto him until at least one of the suspensions is over to take a little longer to see what they have for O line depth.

DEFENSIVE END

Danny
Phantom
OCC Tom
Ryle
VAfan Cole
Patterson
RJ Ochoa Michael
Sisemore
Manik
Aggarwal
Demarcus Lawrence Demarcus Lawrence Demarcus Lawrence Demarcus Lawrence Demarcus Lawrence DeMarcus Lawrence DeMarcus Lawrence DeMarcus Lawrence
Tyrone Crawford Tyrone Crawford Tyrone Crawford Tyrone Crawford Tyrone Crawford Tyrone Crawford Tyrone Crawford Tyrone Crawford
David Irving Taco Charlton Taco Charlton Taco Charlton Taco Charlton Taco Charlton David Irving David Irving
Taco Charlton Benson Mayowa Benson Mayowa Benson Mayowa David Irving David Irving Taco Charlton Taco Charlton
Benson Mayowa Charles Tapper Charles Tapper Charles Tapper Charles Tapper Damontre Moore Damontre' Moore Charles Tapper
Charles Tapper David Irving David Irving David Irving Benson Mayowa Charles Tapper Charles Tapper Benson Mayowa
Damontre Moore Damontre Moore Damontre Moore Damontre Moore Damontre Moore Benson Mayowa Benson Mayowa Damontre Moore

The defensive end spot has been a position that has been heavily discussed and there have been a wide range of opinions as to which players are better. So it’s somewhat of a surprise that all seven of us have all seven of the same players making the team: DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, David Irving, Benson Mayowa, Taco Charlton, Charles Tapper, and Damontre Moore. It’s really great to have this type of depth of players, but it’s a little disappointing that it consists of a potpourri of undistinguished players that haven’t been able to make the next step.

Two of these players will start the season suspended, but it should be interesting to see what the team does once they return. None of us have any of these players as a potential roster cut to make room for the returning players. Will the team really have a need for seven edge rushers? Indubitably, some will be able to shift over and play inside, but still - that’s a lot of bodies to be sharing reps.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

Danny
Phantom
OCC Tom
Ryle
VAfan Cole
Patterson
RJ Ochoa Michael
Sisemore
Manik
Aggarwal
Maliek Collins Maliek Collins Maliek Collins Maliek Collins Maliek Collins Maliek Collins Maliek Collins Maliek Collins
Stephen Paea Stephen Paea Stephen Paea Stephen Paea Stephen Paea Stephen Paea Stephen Paea Stephen Paea
Cedric Thornton Cedric Thornton Cedric Thornton Cedric Thornton Cedric Thorton Cedric Thornton Cedric Thornton Cedric Thornton
Lewis Neal Lewis Neal Lewis Neal Lewis Neal Lewis Neal Lewis Neal Lewis Neal

We are all in agreement that the main three DTs make the team: Maliek Collins, Stephen Paea, and Cedric Thornton. And we are almost all in agreement that the team will retain the services of Lewis Neal while the team is without their suspended defensive linemen. Tom is opting to use that temporary roster spot elsewhere and leaves Neal off the roster.

Ryle:

I left Lewis Neal off because I think the team will use several of the defensive ends in the three hole at times, and Neal has a good chance of being stashed on the practice squad.

LINEBACKER

Danny
Phantom
OCC Tom
Ryle
VAfan Cole
Patterson
RJ Ochoa Michael
Sisemore
Manik
Aggarwal
Sean Lee Sean Lee Sean Lee Sean Lee Sean Lee Sean Lee Sean Lee Sean Lee
Jaylon Smith Damien Wilson Anthony HItchens Anthony Hitchens Jaylon Smith Jaylon Smith Anthony Hitchens Jaylon Smith
Anthony Hitchens Anthony Hitchens Damien Wilson Damien Wilson Anthony Hitchens Anthony Hitchens Jaylon Smith Anthony Hitchens
Damien Wilson Jaylon Smith Jaylon Smith Jaylon Smith Damien Wilson Damien Wilson Damien Wilson Damien Wilson
Justin Durant Mark Nzeocha Kyle Wilber Kyle Wilber Kyle Wilber Kyle Wilber Kyle Wilber Kyle Wilber
Kyle Wilber Kyle Wilber Mark Nzeocha Justin Durant Justin Durant Mark Nzeocha Justin Durant Justin Durant
Mark Nzeocha Justin Durant Joseph Jones Justin Durant

There is a common consent that the following linebackers will make the team: Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, Anthony Hitchens, Damien Wilson, and Kyle Wilber. Four of us have Mark Nzeocha on the team. He’s been a wild card. One week he plays well, the other week he struggles. A sub-par performance on Saturday may have put him on the bubble. Another player who is a little bit of a mystery is Justin Durant. He returned to practice last week, but will he be the player fans remember? Tom doesn’t have Durant making the roster and has opted to borrow the services of the young Joseph Jones who had a great performance against the Arizona Cardinals in the Hall of Fame game.

CORNERBACK

Danny
Phantom
OCC Tom
Ryle
VAfan Cole
Patterson
RJ Ochoa Michael
Sisemore
Manik
Aggarwal
Orlando Scandrick Orlando Scandrick Orlando Scandrick Orlando Scandrick Orlando Scandrick Orlando Scandrick Orlando Scandrick Orlando Scandrick
Anthony Brown Nolan Carroll Nolan Carroll Nolan Carroll Anthony Brown Anthony Brown Anthony Brown Anthony Brown
Nolan Carroll Anthony Brown Anthony Brown Anthony Brown Chidobe Awuzie Nolan Carroll Nolan Carroll Chidobe Awuzie
Chidobe Awuzie Chidobe Awuzie Chidobe Awuzie Chidobe Awuzie Nolan Carroll Chidobe Awuzie Chidobe Awuzie Nolan Carroll
Jourdan Lewis Jourdan Lewis Jourdan Lewis Jourdan Lewis Jourdan Lewis Jourdan Lewis Jourdan Lewis Jourdan Lewis
Duke Thomas Duke Thomas Duke Thomas Duke Thomas Duke Thomas Duke Thomas Duke Thomas Duke Thomas

All of us are in complete agreement at the cornerback position with Orlando Scandrick, Anthony Brown, Nolan Carroll, Chidobe Awuzie, and Jourdan Lewis all making the team. We also agree that Duke Thomas has earned an additional tryout while the suspended guys are out. With so many CBs dealing with hamstring issues, the extra depth at corner comes in handy. The group explains why keeping Thomas around would be wise.

Ryle:

Duke Thomas strikes all of us, I think, as a player that will also get a longer look to see what he brings to the table, with a plan to try and get him on the PS when the time comes. However, if you want a dark horse to keep an eye on, consider Dejuan Butler. He came in and had an excellent game after only two practices. He may fight his way into Thomas’ spot.

VAfan:

I was tempted to take Marquez White over Duke Thomas, because he has the size the Cowboys are lacking in other options. Thomas got the nod because he has played better, and because Jourdan Lewis has not played at all. So Thomas might take Lewis's snaps until he's up to speed, and White will likely survive cut down day to make the practice squad.

Patterson:

Like others, I would like to see Marquez White on the roster, but Duke Thomas has simply been balling. The Texas product has impressed the coaching staff and has been playing very well this preseason. It will be very tough to cut Thomas, even if the team spent a draft pick on White.

SAFETY

Danny
Phantom
OCC Tom
Ryle
VAfan Cole
Patterson
RJ Ochoa Michael
Sisemore
Manik
Aggarwal
Byron Jones Byron Jones Byron Jones Byron Jones Byron Jones Byron Jones Byron Jones Byron Jones
Jeff Heath Jeff Heath Jeff Heath Jeff Heath Jeff Heath Jeff Heath Jeff Heath Jeff Heath
Kavon Frazier Kavon Frazier Kavon Frazier Kavon Frazier Kavon Frazier Kavon Frazier Kavon Frazier Kavon Frazier
Xavier Woods Xavier Woods Xavier Woods Xavier Woods Xavier Woods Xavier Woods Xavier Woods Xavier Woods

All of us also agree that the Cowboys keep four safeties: Byron Jones, Jeff Heath, Kavon Frazier, and Xavier Woods. The order of the depth chart is also unanimous. Robert Blanton was signed in free agency to add depth, but he hasn’t done anything to warrant using a roster spot on him.


Did any of us get it right? Which players do you think we are leaving out and who do you think could be a surprise cut?