Recently the writing staff at BTB put out their 53-man roster predictions for the 2017 Dallas Cowboys. There were many similarities as there seems to be a lot of merit to the idea that around 45 spots are locked down. That doesn’t leave too many positions to debate over, but that won’t stop R.J. Ochoa and Danny Phantom from hashing out who belongs on the roster. Here are some burning questions in this edition of the Big D-Bate.
Besides Ronnie Hillman, which running back do you think is at most risk at losing his roster spot?
Danny Phantom: Okay, full disclosure - I can’t force myself to love Darren McFadden like many others do. The heart wants what the heart wants. I’m not suggesting he should be cut, but if I’m in charge of the depth chart, Ezekiel Elliott is RB1 and Alfred Morris is RB2. After that, I’m not completely sure. I’m buying into the same hype as a lot of others are when it comes to Rod Smith so right now both he and McFadden on are even keel. The Cowboys gave McFadden a one-year, $900k deal with only $80k guaranteed so if money talks - it’s not like they feel they can’t live without him. If the team left DMC off the roster, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings.
R.J. Ochoa: Prior to Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension the temperature around the water cooler wasn’t too kind for Alfred Morris. I’m a big fan of Morris’ game, and I agree with Dan that he’s a capable runner, but what Morris is better at is being a primary runner, not a compliment. Morris makes more sense as the guy who has to be the guy if there isn’t a guy, but he makes the least sense as a piece of the overall puzzle. It’s for this reason, much to my chagrin, he’s probably on the thinnest ice in my opinion.
Phantom: So, we’re one question into this thing and we already got one of us okay with cutting loose McFadden and the other, Morris. Alrighty, then.
Should the Cowboys keep Noah Brown?
R.J. Ochoa: The answer to this isn’t based on whether Noah Brown is good enough to be on the 53-man roster. Noah Brown is either the 54th or 55th man on the Cowboys right now, it’s just a matter of if Kellen Moore is going to occupy what could be his spot on the team. He’s talented enough to justify it, and Brice Butler is in a contract year. It makes sense, but hey facts or whatever.
Danny Phantom: I had pushed aside any notion that Brown was going land a spot when Butler cemented his place on this team. But after I started looking at the dynamic of this roster and examined a few players at the bottom of the cuts, I found myself preferring Brown over those other guys. The Cowboys have to protect these guys who might not be a big contributor now, but could be a part of their future. Brown could be one of those guys. If they have room, I’d like to see the team keep him around.
With so many questions still on the offensive line, should the Cowboys hang on to Byron Bell for insurance?
Danny Phantom: I can’t remember a time where I’ve watched so much slow-motion video of offensive linemen in the preseason. I guess when the team loses two starters, it’s bound to create a lot of interest in the position. It’s been a struggle to find something positive to say about the reserve guys, but Byron Bell looks like the worst of the worst. He’s slow and cannot stay engaged in his blocks. Too many times he’s just standing around lost while the other guys are still blocking. It’s like if you invited a bunch of guys to help you move, Bell would be the guy who pretends to be lifting the couch while the others are actually doing the work. I’m proud of him for all the weight he’s lost, but when it comes to the Cowboys offensive line, he’s the biggest loser.
R.J. Ochoa: I’m a big believer in Joe Looney, Emmett Cleary, and Bell. A lot of my belief really isn’t belief as much as it is trepidation concerning what might be the most important back on the Cowboys, that of Tyron Smith. There is so much positional shuffling that is still going on, and likely to be a thing for a while, that it makes sense to have depth. This is the team’s bread and butter. Keep milk in the fridge.
Of the linebackers you think the Cowboys keep, who’s on the very bottom?
R.J. Ochoa: An easy answer to this is probably Kyle Wilber, but his special teams contributions are a big asset to the Cowboys. Ultimately Justin Durant probably makes this team, and I’m inclined to say him just because he’s the latest arrival to this 2017 Dallas Cowboys party; however, I’m veering a bit right here.
Mark Nzeocha is really talented. He’s got a lot of potential. But that’s all it is right now. Talent and potential. The overall package and likelihood of durability of his is the least pretty right now.
Danny Phantom: Unless Durant suddenly has a sharp decline in ability, his spot on the roster should be safe. Sure, he hasn’t practiced very much, but he’s a good player and there shouldn’t be a lot of mystery of what he brings to the defense. He’s borderline starter material on many teams, so that makes him a strong candidate to add to the depth of the position group.
I’m starting to lose faith in Nzeocha. Besides struggling to stay healthy, he also struggles with consistency. From what we’ve seen so far in preseason, he looks like he can be a liability out there. It wouldn’t surprise me if the team opted to keep undrafted free agent Joseph Jones over Nzeocha.
How do you feel about these guys? Who should stay and who should go?