We’ve waited a long time for the Dallas Cowboys to play football again. This Thursday brings the return of the greatest action known to man, even if it is just preseason action.
We got our first depth chart of the season on Tuesday. While it is still only preseason, depth charts provide a lot of information. It’s somewhat of an indicator of how the Cowboys staff is thinking, and that’s always valuable.
Here’s what the full depth chart currently looks like, with returning players marked in green, rookies marked in yellow, and trade/free agent additions marked in orange:
|WR1||Allen Hurns||Michael Gallup||Noah Brown||Ricky Jeune|
|LT||Tyron Smith||Cameron Fleming||Bryce Johnson|
|LG||Connor Williams||Kadeem Edwards||Dustin Stanton|
|C||Travis Frederick||Joe Looney||Marcus Martin|
|RG||Zack Martin||Marcus Martin||Damien Mama|
|RT||La’el Collins||Chaz Green||Jake Campos||Korren Kirven|
|TE||Geoff Swaim||Blake Jarwin||Rico Gathers||Dalton Schultz, David Wells|
|SR||Cole Beasley||Tavon Austin||Deonte Thompson||Marchie Murdock|
|WR2||Terrance Williams||Lance Lenoir||K.D. Cannon||Mekale McKay|
|QB||Dak Prescott||Cooper Rush||Mike White||Dalton Sturm|
|RB||Ezekiel Elliott||Rod Smith||Darius Jackson||Bo Scarbrough, Jordan Chunn|
|DE||Tyrone Crawford||Taco Charlton||Charles Tapper||Austin Larkin|
|DT||Datone Jones||Brian Price||Richard Ash|
|DT||Jihad Ward||Daniel Ross||Antwaun Woods||Lewis Neal|
|DE||DeMarcus Lawrence||Kony Ealy||Dorance Armstrong||Joby Saint Fleur|
|SLB||Damien Wilson||Justin March-Lillard||Chris Covington||Eric Pinkins|
|MLB||Jaylon Smith||Leighton Vander Esch||Tre’von Johnson||Joel Lanning|
|WLB||Sean Lee||Joe Thomas||Kyle Queiro|
|CB||Byron Jones||Jourdan Lewis||Marquez White||Donovan Olumba|
|CB||Anthony Brown||Jourdan Lewis||Duke Thomas|
|CB||Chidobe Awuzie||Duke Thomas||Charvarius Ward|
|SS||Jeff Heath||Kavon Frazier||Jameill Showers|
|FS||Xavier Woods||Marqueston Huff||Tyree Robinson||Kam Kelly|
|P||Chris Jones||Brett Maher|
|K||Dan Bailey||Brett Maher|
|LS||L. P. Ladouceur||Scott Daly|
|KOR||Jourdan Lewis||Duke Thomas||Darius Jackson|
|PR||Duke Thomas||Lance Lenoir||Jourdan Lewis|
Backup tackles are Cameron Fleming and Chaz Green
When the Cowboys signed Cameron Fleming in free agency there were a lot of questions (remember when people thought it meant La’el Collins back to guard?). Months later, with Fleming firmly entrenched as Tyron Smith’s primary backup, it’s hard to be disappointed with how the Cowboys have hedged their bet.
Tyron’s absence last season was a big contributing factor to the ineptitude Dallas experienced on offense. While it’s not shocking to see Cameron behind Smith, it is at the very least chin-stroking interesting to see Chaz Green at right tackle.
Dallas worked Chaz Green as a swing tackle up until last year when they tried to make him a left guard, and they have him listed as G/T on the official team website. Perhaps Chaz is readying himself to be ready on either side at tackle (he’s worked both this offseason), but it appears that’s where he’ll line up in an ideal world.
Geoff Swaim is the leading man at tight end, Rico Gathers is third-string
Swaim has long been the favorite to be the Cowboys “starter” at tight end in the P.W. (post Witten) world but there have been all sorts of other murmurings. Remember that Dallas loved Blake Jarwin so much that they finally permanently removed Kellen Moore from the 53-man roster last season in order to protect Jarwin from getting poached by the Eagles (if Dallas hadn’t, would Philly have drafted Dallas... Goedert? Hmm.), and he’s alternated with Swaim with the 1s while at camp.
There has also been a contingency of folks who believe rookie Dalton Schultz can lead the way at tight end, but he finds himself rounding at the end of the line. In Dalton’s defense, he missed a portion of camp early on to attend the birth of his son (priorities fam, no pun intended) and the preseason could largely shift things.
It was the preseason a year ago that launched Rico Gathers up 53-man rosters in living rooms all over Cowboys Nation, at the beginning of this preseason he is trailing literally everybody he’s trailed so far in Swaim and Jarwin. Maybe Gathers will up his stock over the next few weeks, but it seems more likely that Dalton will leapfrog him at some point.
Deonte Thompson is listed among the slot receivers
How the Cowboys roster shakes out at wide receiver is going to be interesting (we took a crack at it recently) because there are about seven players (counting Tavon Austin) who make sense to make it.
Allen Hurns and Terrance Williams are listed as the starters on the outside with Michael Gallup and Lance Lenoir backing them up, respectively. Cole Beasley leads things at the slot with Tavon Austin behind him (keep in mind Tavon is listed as a running back everywhere except depth charts) and Deonte Thompson is third.
The Buffalo Bills used Deonte in the slot at times, and I’m not saying he can’t handle it. He’s only 6’0” so it’s not like he’s the tallest receiver in the world, and ultimately the Cowboys are likely going to line everyone up everywhere anyway. It’s simply interesting that the primary backups on the outside are a rookie and former undrafted free agent. It’s impressive.
Darius Jackson is listed ahead of Bo Scarbrough
Part of it might be the pedigree of where he played in college, but there are a lot of Cowboys fans who really believe that Bo Scarbrough is going to make this team.
This at least used to be true. It feels like more and more people are warming to the idea that Darius Jackson might be more suited to be next in line after Ezekiel Elliott and Rod Smith, and apparently the Dallas Cowboys feel that way themselves. Darius has proven that he can make the 53-man roster before, and at RB3 he stands a decent chance to do so again.
Antwaun Woods is on third-string
We’ve reached a point where defensive tackle position has some options within the Cowboys. Jihad Ward and Datone Jones (former 2nd and 1st round picks respectively) present legitimate starting options for now, Brian Price has impressed, and Daniel Ross is hardly chump change.
There’s another name on everyone’s minds though, Antwaun Woods is becoming the most popular pet cat in town. We’re suddenly at five names and we still have Maliek Collins and David Irving to consider down the road. While we are operating without Maliek and Irving, Antwaun is still listed as third string. That’s not exactly promising.
Maybe this is an example of this being the depth chart of the first preseason game. So much is going to change and there are likely many of us who hope Woods is part of that.
Dorance Armstrong is also third-string... behind Kony Ealy
You could make a very legitimate argument not only that Dorance Armstrong has been the most impressive player through camp (certainly the most impressive rookie) but that Kony Ealy has been the most disappointing; however, the latter is slotted ahead of the former.
Perhaps this is a matter of seniority or something of a similar nature because under no circumstances has Ealy outplayed Armstrong to this point in camp. Dorance’s time will come, we just have to put up with things like this in the meantime.
Jaylon Smith is listed as a starter... at middle linebacker
It’s not preposterous that Jaylon Smith could be the team’s starting MIKE linebacker, but we heard all sorts of discussions throughout the offseason that the Cowboys were considering moving him to SAM.
Maybe the Cowboys will have Jaylon play SAM... at times. And maybe they’ll have him play MIKE... at other times. When Dallas drafted Leighton Vander Esch many thought he’d be the starter at MLB with Jaylon at SLB but alas, LVE is backing up Jaylon in the middle.
Jourdan Lewis might just literally be the next-best cornerback on the team
There’s been a lot of chatter about Anthony Brown starting at slot cornerback over Jourdan Lewis through training camp, but Brown has justified the nod he’s been given with his play.
It’s been said many times that if Jourdan Lewis is your fourth-best corner that you’re doing alright for yourself, and that just might be the case with the Cowboys. Lewis is listed as the primary backup on the outside to Byron Jones and at the slot to Anthony Brown. He’ll get in however he can. Speaking of...
It’s a little shallow at free safety
This isn’t something that’s necessarily breaking news, but seeing an official depth chart provides more concrete proof that the Cowboys don’t have a whole lot of options at free safety behind Xavier Woods.
The X-Man is someone that’s definitely got his share of believers among Cowboys fans, but any time you bring up this position on this team there’s one name that comes to mind. Maybe seeing it this way will make that more glaring, maybe it won’t. Who knows.
We’re going to get to see Jourdan Lewis return some kicks
It’s been discussed a lot since the Cowboys drafted him that Jourdan Lewis is capable of returning kicks. He’s listed as the team’s starting kick returner, and fellow cornerback Duke Thomas is going to handle punts.
Obviously the Cowboys have a player that’s excelled (amidst fumbles) in the return game in Tavon Austin. Jason Garrett has said throughout camp that they’re not going to focus on having Tavon handle kicks/punts through the preseason. This could mean they don’t plan on doing it in the regular season, or it could simply mean they want to utilize those moments with a ball in your hand on someone else.