The preseason is over for the Dallas Cowboys. After losing every game, the front office will now collaborate and come up with a 53-man roster that will be released tomorrow afternoon. Of course, some of those names won’t be written in pen as the team will continue to make changes over the weekend as they comb through the waiver wire of other teams looking for players who can strengthen the team. So what names should we expect to see on that list? Over the last few weeks, the writers here at BTB have been making our best guesses as to what the roster would look like. And now, the final votes are in. Here is a position-by-position break down of which players we believe will make the team.
Note: David Irving is suspended for four games and Travis Frederick could land on injured reserve. For that reason, our 53 selections will not include those players.
The only real debate with this one is - should the Cowboys keep Mike White?
Most of the writers have jumped shipped with keeping the rookie has he’s hasn’t performed well in preseason action. But Connor Livesay and I are still holding out that the Cowboys keep him around.
Danny Phantom: I really haven’t given much thought about White’s place on the team as I figured the team made their commitment to him when he was drafted. Yes, he hasn’t came anywhere close to wowing us like Cooper Rush did last year, but that’s okay. He still has the attributes teams look for in a quarterback. People want to try to sneak him on the practice squad, but I think that’s too risky. I remember when they tried to pull that stunt with Matt Moore and it ended up biting them. Moore went on to be a solid backup QB while the Cowboys struggled finding a replacement whenever Tony Romo went down.
And a couple not only believe that White will be cut, but that the Cowboys look to the outside to find a veteran QB.
Tom Ryle: I think Dallas will bring in a veteran backup. Mike White had a nice run of completions, but I don’t know if that is enough. The last preseason game could change this situation, but I still think they try to get White to the PS. However, they might flip on that and try getting Rush there, keeping White on the 53.
Michael Strawn: White will either be cut or placed on the PS and some vet will be brought in.
Are you for Team Bo or Team DJax? It’s a two-man race for which running back grabs the last spot. Darius Jackson has looked better in the preseason, but will that be enough to outlast the team’s new draft pick?
Michael Strawn: Jackson earns a spot over Bo Scarbrough, who is placed on PS. WR: Lenoir makes the team despite his punt catching problems.
Danny Phantom: This one was a lot closer that I expected it to be, but I’m giving the nod to Bo. Maybe it’s the appeal of a bruiser back who can punish tired defenses. Maybe it’s that fresh four-year rookie deal for peanuts. He hasn’t been able to get himself going, but I believe there is more to his game than what he’s been able to show in limited preseason touches.
Dave Halprin: I was on Team Bo for a while because of Jason Garrett’s respect for Nick Saban and his opinion of Scarbrough was high. That’s good, but Darius Jackosn looks like the better back and the Cowboys should go with the better back.
Training camp standout and preseason dark horse Lance Lenoir was a fan-favorite to make the team over the last few weeks, but now has fallen out of favor to some fans. Instead, votes are being thrown towards veteran receiver Deonte Thompson.
Danny Phantom: The team was diligent in finding players receivers to round out their new receiving group to the point where they had a surplus of roster-worthy candidates. Unfortunately, they can’t keep them all and will have to select based on what assortment helps their team the most. Thompson not only comes in highly respected by new receiver’s coach Sanjay Lal, but he also has the speed to be a legitimate deep threat option. And that is a trait the team will want to hang on to.
David Howman: I have Lance Lenoir making it as the sixth receiver even after his terrible performance Sunday. He looked bad as a punt returner, sure, but he was never the answer at punt returner and they know that. Plus, Sanjay Lal in training camp said Lenoir was one of the three best route runners on the team. Have to think that saves him
To Rico or not to Rico? - that is the question. And when it comes to the answer, he gets a 60/40 vote in his favor from the writing staff. This seems fitting consider the enigma that is Rico Gathers and how he’s had everyone baffled all through training camp. We shall find out soon enough.
Danny Phantom: Right now, I have Rico as my no. 3 tight end over Dalton Schultz. And if the rookie somehow got cut, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he cleared waivers and made it to the practice squad. The team has so many questions at tight end and I feel they can use the 2018 season to sort out some of these answers. That’s not ideal, but it was the hand they were dealt when Jason Witten unexpected retired.
Michael Strawn: Rico again makes the team simply due to the other not showing much. Schultz is a candidate for PS if they want to go with only three.
Dave Halprin: Again, if the Cowboys staff can’t figure out how to utilize the size and athleticism of Gathers, who looks like he blocks as well these other guys, then you have to wonder what Gathers did to them personally.
The Cowboys still have some things to sort out on their offensive line, but the BTB group is all in agreement that the top nine guys are making this squad. The team just traded CB Charvarius Ward to the Kansas City Chiefs for OL Parker Ehinger so clearly he must be in their plans at least in the beginning, but that could all change if/when Frederick returns.
Tom Ryle: I have Kadeem Edwards now making the team, plus one more offensive linemen coming from trades/free agent signings/waiver claims. This is driven by the Travis Frederick situation, and assumes he will miss some games, but not enough to put him on IR.
Michael Strawn: Frederick is placed on the IR (able to return after week 8 and an outside player is brought in.
David Howman: I have Dallas adding a player from the outside as depth along the offensive line, particularly someone who gets cut after the preseason games are over (Travis Swanson is my early favorite) and that’s assuming Frederick gets placed on IR designated to return.
Will the Cowboys keep Charles Tapper on Kony Ealy? Most of us say no to both, but there are few people who still have a spot for one of them.
Danny Phantom: The Cowboys have a great four-man rotation between DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, Taco Charlton, and Dorance Armstrong. And that’s not including having Tyrone Crawford in their back pocket. Charles Tapper or Kony Ealy would really have to show they are capable of stealing reps to justify keeping them on the roster. When Ealy shifted inside, it made it harder to leave him of the roster as that’s nice position flex to have in your back pocket, but I think there are better players at more pressing needs who should occupy that last roster spot.
Michael Strawn: Lawrence, Crawford, Gregory, Charlton and Armstrong are locks. Tapper goes to PS.
Only Maliek Collins, Tyrone Crawford, and training camp surprise Antwaun Woods are unanimous picks across the board for the defensive tackle position. After that, it gets a little crazy as we are all over the place with our predictions. Brian Price gets a heavy endorsement, but then there are four different players listed as possible candidates.
Tom Ryle: Tyrone Crawford becomes a DT on the depth chart pending Irving’s return. That leaves Jihad Ward out in the cold, with Brian Price and Antwaun Woods getting the nod at DT.
Michael Strawn: This could go anywhere. Only locks are Collins and Antwaun Woods. Brian Price, Datone Jones and Jihad Ward could be battling for two or only a single spot as Crawford is pretty well established as a DT again.
David Howman: I think the guy who loses a roster spot (at least temporarily) for the safety is Datone Jones. Crawford is getting more reps inside, Collins is coming back, and Antwaun Woods has played so well he’ll either bump Ward or Jones. I think Ward has more athletic upside that gives him the edge.
Finally, something we can all agree on. The Cowboys top six linebackers are set with Justin March-Lillard getting a spot and rookie Chris Covington being left off.
Michael Strawn: The first six are certain (Lee, Smith, LVE, Joe Thomas, Damien Wilson, March-Lillard). Chris Covington could make it seven if they need STs depth.
The top four have been set for some time now. And after that, it’s been real challenging trying to figure out who the Cowboys might select. After trading away Ward to the Chiefs, Duke Thomas appears to be the front runner, but will the Cowboys see it that way? Donovan Olumba gets two votes, while nobody has any love for Marquez White who has essentially been invisible during the preseason.
Dave Halprin: I went with Duke Thomas, but Donovan Olumba played pretty well against the Texans and could easily slide into this spot.
Undrafted free agent Tyree Robinson is a heavy favorite to land one of the reserve safety spots, but even more popular than that is the idea that the Cowboys will look outside the team for help. Jeron Johnson might have helped his cause last night as he was all over the place, leading the team with 10 tackles.
Michael Sisemore: Despite the Cowboys needs at safety, I don’t think they’ll walk into week one with any of their UDFA’s on the squad. Yes, Xavier Woods is not likely returning until week two because of his hamstring. Yes, Kavon Frazier just might have to wear some sort of sling under his jersey or at least get a nice tape job after popping his shoulder out of socket. So, that means that Jeff Heath is the only healthy option, well until the Cowboys add two more safeties after roster cuts. It’s not going to be Earl Thomas but they could call the Lions and see if Miles Killebrew can be pried away. Knowing what we know now about the safety position, why not check in with former Cowboy J.J. Wilcox? He’s currently buried on the Jets roster but played in 58 career games with the Cowboys and started 40 of them including the playoffs. The Cowboys are desperate for safeties but not desperate enough to keep Tyree Robinson, Kam Kelly, and surely not Marqueston Huff. It’s time to go shopping for someone that can actually help. If it’s not the “ET come home” dream scenario, then bring in a player that can start because he’s most likely going to.
Michael Strawn: Tyree Robinson is my fourth S after Heath, Woods and Frazier but I also think they bring in someone from the outside to provide depth at the banged up position.
David Howman: I think they add a player from the outside at safety to combat Xavier Woods’ expected absence from at least the first game. Kam Kelly could’ve been the guy for depth but he seems too raw at this point. Whoever they add, don’t expect him to be on the roster all year long
Dave Halprin: I went with Jeron Johnson again because I think Kris Richard knows him and can trust him. He probably wouldn’t have brought him over if he didn’t think he could play.
For the eighth straight season, this trio will be the team’s specialists. They are good at what they do and we all know it.