Every year, the final roster of the Dallas Cowboys is full of surprises. The coaching staff doesn’t provide many clues as all they give us is praise for any player they talk about, even when they are feeling not so great behind the curtains. For example, last year at this time...
Jason Garrett said there's "no real concern" about Dan Bailey missing four field goals over the last two practices. "We feel good about him going into the start of the season. Feel very confident in what he can do."— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 5, 2018
The team felt so good about Dan Bailey that he was cut a month later. A lot can happen in that amount of time as the competition in camp is a real thing. No matter how good of a feel we think we have on the roster, this team will always throw us some curve balls. Here are a few potential surprises that could show itself come final roster cuts.
QB Mike White over Cooper Rush
If the season started today, Cooper Rush would take home the no. 2 quarterback spot. While neither backup has particularly impressed in camp, Rush has done a better job getting the ball out quicker. He still tends to play it safe with a lot of short dump off completions, but he’s still looks like the better of the two for now.
Fortunately, we got a lot more camp left and don’t be shocked if Mike White eventually jumps him for the backup spot. White has a strong arm and can anticipate routes better. With more reps and some preseason action approaching soon, his time is coming. This one won’t reveal itself until later, but don’t write off Mr. White just yet.
RB Mike Weber over Darius Jackson
Eastern Michigan’s Darius Jackson refuses to go away. He was an original member of the Cowboys epic 2016 draft class, but has been released and traveled around a few teams before returning to Dallas. He’s got speed and he’s fun to watch in the open field, but Jackson just doesn’t have the elusiveness or grit like some of the other running backs on the roster.
That is not the case for Ohio State rookie Mike Weber. While he isn’t the speedster Jackson is, he’s a pretty well-rounded running back. In the blue/white scrimmage, he had a couple plays where he stuck his foot in the ground and popped to the outside for a nice gain.
Rookie RB Mike Weber with a Nasty Jump Cut— D Brown (@DBrownFF88) August 5, 2019
He’s an agile runner with pretty good vision, and despite being a downhill runner who can attack inside the hash marks, he has the skills to improvise. He was a seventh-round pick, but the team had a third-round grade on him and he’s starting to show us why.
WR Cedrick Wilson over Jon’Vea Johnson
Toledo’s Jon’Vea Johnson is an exciting player to root for. The speed he brings has already been on display, and he’s made some pretty snazzy catches in training camp.
As tantalizing as some of his plays are, JVJ still struggles with consistency. He had a drop problem in OTA’s and sometimes those same miscues have surfaced again in camp. His rawness is still very apparent and that’s the type of thing that will land you on the practice squad.
While JVJ is more of a sporadic playmaker, the team might opt to go with a guy who’s a little more consistent and that’s what Cedrick Wilson gives them. In his final year at Boise State, Wilson had 83 catches and 1,511 yards, which is more than what Johnson had in his final two seasons at Toledo. Wilson missed all of last year with a shoulder injury, but he’s healthy now and he’s quietly having a solid camp. He’s been doing a little bit of everything, playing both inside and out. He’s been used on end-arounds, and he’s been involved in special teams. All these things point to the coaching staff showing a lot more trust in Wilson.
DE Joe Jackson over Taco Charlton
Why would anyone take a fifth-round pick over a first-round who’s entering his breakout year? In short, his projection is better.
Charlton has struggled from the get-go, and he’s been a target of heavy criticism due to his draft price, but through all the practices he’s been a part of - the former Michigan edge rush just can’t gain any traction. While he’s only half way through his rookie deal, Charlton has done little to give fans any hope that he can be a threat along the defensive line. If he could just give us anything, anything at all - maybe we’d still cling to hope. But he’s not, so it’s time for a new hope.
Miami’s Joe Jackson wasn’t a Day 1 pick like Charlton, but the Cowboys had a third-round grade on him. Similar to what they did with Dorance Armstrong, his talent was too good to pass up even though the team was pretty stacked at the defensive end position. Armstrong has been having a great camp and looks like a legit piece to the Cowboys pass rushing rotation going forward.
Jackson might be a similar type of guy. Jerry Jones was very pleased with his performance on Sunday.
“I was particularly impressed with was Jackson, the Miami defensive end,” Jones said. “He obviously made the eye-opening tackle. But more importantly, and he was known for this, his ability to chase the ball and pursue the ball. He never quits on a play. This is his first time we’ve had the live action and I’m telling you he was really impressive. He was all over the field. He was aggressive. I thought he had a good day.”
Jackson already has a pick from being in the right place at the right time, but to be honest - he makes his own luck. Like Jerry said - he’s aggressive. The guy plays with such high energy and never gives up on plays.
Charlton may have the physical traits the team looks for, but Jackson has the relentless spirit that maxes out what they can do. And those are the things that keeps players like him on the roster.
With DeMarcus Lawrence, Robert Quinn, Dorance Armstrong, Kerry Hyder, and even possibly Randy Gregory getting reps on the edge - anyone deeper than that should be stored away for the future. Might as well roll with a guy who still has a chance to grow into something.
S Darian Thompson over Kavon Frazier
We’ve already mentioned that Thompson would beat out George Iloka in our five bold predictions article last month, but that just doesn’t seem bold enough. Iloka has done next to nothing, so let’s take it up a notch. How about we flirt with the roster spot of the beloved Kavon Frazier.
Sure, it’s hard not to seeing Frazier at least finishing off the last year of his rookie deal in Dallas. He’s a great guy. He’s super cheap. And he’s one of the best special teams players on the roster. But are those attributes good enough to hold down a roster spot if the team doesn’t really feel comfortable putting him on the field with the defense? When it comes to the safety position, Frazier is too much of a liability. Instead, the team can do a little better than that by going with Darian Thompson.
Initially, when the team added Iloka in free agency and drafted Donovan Wilson, Thompson has been a forgotten guy in terms of rounding out the safety position group. But that might be a mistake. When you start looking at players you want to see out on the field should something happen to Xavier Woods or Jeff Heath, Thompson’s name should come up before any of the other guys. Iloka hasn’t been doing anything in camp. Wilson has potential, but he still has a lot to learn. And as valuable as Frazier is as a special teams player, that’s just not enough to warrant a roster spot.
Thompson may be the team’s best bet. And the team may see it that way too as they continue to give him more and more responsibility and he’s responded pretty well.