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How the Cowboys current 53-man roster was put together

Since becoming the head coach, Jason Garrett has completely remodeled the team. Check out how it all came together.

NFL: Preseason-Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 Cowboys roster has been finalized. There will be several changes as we progress through the season, but for now - let’s take a little stroll and see how everyone got here.

2003

It all started with the third-round draft pick of future Hall of Famer, Jason Witten (Tennessee). Witten is entering his 15th season and is the longest-tenured Cowboys player on the team.

2005

People don’t give much thought to longsnapper L.P. Ladouceur (California). The UDFA has played for the Cowboys for the last 12 seasons and has been downright perfect.

2008

The Cowboys have several Boise State players on the roster, but Orlando Scandrick is the longest-tenured one. He was taken in the fifth round and has turned out to be a steal.

2010

The Cowboys only have two players on the roster from this draft class, but they’re both All Pros. Dez Bryant (Oklahoma State) was taken in the first round and Seen Lee (Penn State) was taken in round two.


Jason Garrett becomes the Cowboys head coach


2011

Tyron Smith (USC) was the first offensive lineman that Jerry Jones has ever taken in the first round of the draft and boy was that a good decision. He’s one of the best tackles in the league.

The Cowboys also landed a couple special teams kickers when they signed UDFAs Dan Bailey (Oklahoma State) and Chris Jones (Carson Newman). They were cheap signings back then, but they have since been compensated with second contracts and are worth their weight in gold.

2012

While this draft will be remembered for the Morris Claiborne gaffe, the team still has three players on the team - Tyrone Crawford (Boise State), Kyle Wilber (Wake Forest), and James Hanna (Oklahoma).

The team also landed UDFA Cole Beasley (Southern Methodist) who has developed into one of the better slot receivers in the league.

2013

The Cowboys traded their first-round pick to San Francisco and the result was Travis Frederick (Wisconsin) and Terrance Williams (Baylor). That is all that remains from that draft class.

Jeff Heath (Saginaw Valley State) signed as an UDFA and is now the team’s starting strong safety.

2014

Passing on on Johnny Manziel is one of the Cowboys best front office decisions because it resulted in the selection of All Pro guard, Zack Martin (Notre Dame). The Cowboys also traded up to get DeMarcus Lawrence (Boise State) and took Anthony Hitchens (Iowa) in the fourth round.

The Cowboys signed Keith Smith as an UDFA. He’s been cut and resigned several times, but hasn’t played with anyone other than the Cowboys.

2015

While second-round pick Randy Gregory was a whiff, the team still has Byron Jones (Connecticut), Chaz Green (Florida), Damien Wilson (Minnesota), and Geoff Swaim (Texas). All those guys are starters or have key roles in certain personnel packages.

The Cowboys also were fortunate to sign UDFA La’el Collins (LSU) who is now their starting right tackle. They also signed Darren McFadden (Oakland) and Kellen Moore (Detroit) who are both slated as the lead backup for their respective positions. They are also both the longest-standing free agents at a measly two years which really tells you something about how little the Cowboys commit to free agents from other teams when it comes to making up their roster.

Dallas claimed David Irving from the Kansas City Chief’s practice squad which has turned out to be a slam dunk in talent evaluation. Irving has already made some big plays and is only getting better. The Cowboys also traded for Brice Butler (Oakland) after Dez Bryant got hurt early in the season and he has turned out to be a solid fixture at the bottom of the depth chart. Rod Smith was claimed off waivers after being released by Seattle.

2016

It was a draft of the ages as the Cowboys just cleaned up on grabbing great player after great player. Will McClay and company must have stayed in a Holiday Inn that weekend because they were sharp as a tack. Check out this draft haul:

  • Ezekiel Elliott (Ohio State)
  • Jaylon Smith (Notre Dame)
  • Maliek Collins (Nebraska)
  • Charles Tapper (Oklahoma)
  • Dak Prescott (Mississippi State)
  • Anthony Brown (Purdue)
  • Kavon Frazier (Central Michigan)
  • Rico Gathers, IR (Baylor)

The Cowboys signed Alfred Morris (Washington), Benson Mayowa (Oakland), Justin Durant (Atlanta), and Joe Looney (San Francisco) in free agency. All of these players fill out the team’s bench at their respective positions. Jonathan Cooper was signed late last season after the Cleveland Browns waived him.

2017

The Cowboys have six players from this year’s draft that have made the team: Taco Charlton (Michigan), Chidobe Awuzie (Colorado), Jourdan Lewis (Michigan), Ryan Switzer (North Carolina), Xavier Woods (Louisiana Tech), and Noah Brown (Ohio State).

In free agency, the front office signed Nolan Carroll (Philadelphia), Stephen Paea (Cleveland), Damontre Moore (Seattle), Byron Bell (Tennessee), and Duke Thomas (IR).

And the team shuffled around a few spots last week when they traded for Bene Benwikere (Cincinnati) and Jayrone Elliott (Green Bay). They also claimed Brian Price from the Packers practice squad.

Here is a tally of how many players came from each type of selection process:

A couple stats from these numbers...

First, there are a total of 57 players here because both the suspended players (Irving and Moore) and the players on injured reserve (Gathers and Thomas) are taken into consideration.

The Cowboys have 39 players (68%) that are “home-grown”, meaning they were either drafted or signed immediately as undrafted free agents.

Jerry Jones will tell you that the Cowboys have about a 30 percent turnover every season. That’s a difficult thing to imagine, especially with as deep as the roster has become in recent years, but checking the numbers - he’s pretty darn close. The Cowboys have 15 new players on the roster which is a 26% turnover.

91% of the roster now consists of players brought in during the Jason Garrett era.