Training camp is still over a month away for the Dallas Cowboys, but the team just finished OTA’s and minicamp. It’s not much, but it’s something and that’s all it takes for people to throw together predictions for the team’s 53-man roster. On Monday, Todd Archer from ESPN decided to make his best guess as to what the team might look like come September. For the most part, there are a lot of areas where there’s a strong consensus, but as always - some spots are different. Let’s take a look at what Archer came up.
Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush
Right out of the gate we got controversy. Did he really pick Rush over Mike White? Well, actually, there is no real front runner to back up Prescott. Both Rush and White have their fair share of supporters. Rush has more experienced having been here for two years already, but how much has he grown? White is entering his second year and how he performs in camp should go a long way in determining who gets that no. 2 job. While it’s still uncertain who lands the backup gig, most people agree that the Cowboys will only go with two quarterbacks on the roster this year.
RUNNING BACK (4)
Ezekiel Elliott, Jamize Olawale, Tony Pollard, Darius Jackson
Most roster projections would favor rookie Mike Weber over Darius Jackson, but Archer might be on to something here. He notes Jackson’s special team value as giving him an edge, and he’s healthy and performing well so far. In fact, the Mothership lists Jackson as the #9 biggest surprise of OTA’s so it might be premature to count him out. Granted, the Cowboys had Weber high on their board and figured he was great value in the seventh round, but that sounds like the same song and dance we heard last year with Bo Scarbough.
WIDE RECEIVER (5)
Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Randall Cobb, Noah Brown, Allen Hurns
You could ask 10 different people and probably get 10 different answers on how the wide receiver group is going to shake out. Archer favors Hurns for the last spot because of his experience to take on the outside role should one of the starters get hurt. That might be the safer choice, but with playmakers like Tavon Austin, Cedrick Wilson, and even undrafted free agent Jon’Vea Johnson - it’s hard not to pass on a player who’s a bigger home run threat.
TIGHT END (3)
Jason Witten, Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz
There’s not a lot to discuss here. The general feeling is that Rico Gathers days in Dallas are over. The Cowboys could always surprise us and add a veteran to the group, but with so much talent at other positions and the extreme resiliency of Jason Witten - it just makes sense to go light at the tight end position.
OFFENSIVE LINE (9)
Tyron Smith, Connor Williams, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, La’el Collins, Cameron Fleming, Joe Looney, Connor McGovern, Mitch Hyatt
We were prepared to pound the table and plead a case for Clemson’s Mitch Hyatt, but apparently the hype is making it around. Archer has Hyatt making the team if not for now, but for later after La’el Collins leaves in free agency next offseason. Xavier Su’a-Filo could be the odd man out if the Cowboys decide to hang on to Hyatt.
DEFENSIVE LINE (10)
DeMarcus Lawrence, Maliek Collins, Antwaun Woods, Tyrone Crawford, Robert Quinn, Taco Charlton, Trysten Hill, Dorance Armstrong, Kerry Hyder, Christian Covington
There is nothing to argue about with this list. Sure, the Cowboys did draft two new edge rushers in Joe Jackson and Jalen Jelks, but this position group is so deep that it’s hard trying to find someone they’d replace. Both the team’s free agent adds Kerry Hyder and Christian Covington are nice depth guys who both have upside to challenge for some legit playing time. Unless one of the rookies really impress in camp, they could be headed for the practice squad.
Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith, Sean Lee, Joe Thomas, Chris Covington, Justin March-Lillard
There isn’t a lot of mystery at the linebacker position group. The team has a great duo of rising stars in Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith as well as an ace in the hole with Sean Lee when they’re in base package. They also have solid depth, starting with Joe Thomas. This group seems so predictable that it can only mean we’ll be in for a surprise later.
Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, Jeff Heath, Xavier Woods, Anthony Brown, Jourdan Lewis, George Iloka, Darian Thompson, Donovan Wilson, C.J. Goodwin, Mike Jackson
It was a little surprising that Archer decided to go long at defensive back, but it was even more surprising that he left Kavon Frazier off the list as he’s one of the team’s top special teams players. The team could go a lot of different ways, and it makes sense to bring more guys along while they sort out who the best guys are. Archer does mention Iloka’s name as a potential cut, which isn’t out of the question. Not many people are talking much about C.J. Goodwin so maybe he knows something we don’t, but I’d lean more toward Donovan Olumba.
Brett Maher, Chris Jones, L.P. Ladouceur
With some inconsistencies with Brett Maher and Chris Jones, anything can happen once camp rolls around. Long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur; however, is the poster child for consistency, and he should hold down his job as long as he wants it.