Training camp is here. Yippee! Football stuff is going to happen!
Before football activities get under way, we have one final chance to plant our flag in the dirt and predict how we think the 53-man roster is going to shake out before some of the answers to our biggest questions start revealing themselves. Let’s get to it, shall we?
QUARTERBACK (3) - Dak Prescott, Andy Dalton, and Ben DiNucci
Prescott is the team’s starter, and Dalton is the backup. The only thing that remains undetermined is if the Cowboys seventh-round pick Ben DiNucci makes the squad. Considering he’s a Mike McCarthy favorite, it seems reasonable that he’d get at least one year of protection on the roster to show them what he’s got.
RUNNING BACK (3) - Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, and Jamize Olawale
Zeke and Pollard will be the Cowboys one-two punch, but will there be any other running backs worthy of the roster? Clearly that duo will command a great majority of the reps, so it’s hard to see much value in another running back unless they flash something too good to pass up in camp, or they show extraordinary special teams ability.
Olawale has the edge to hold down the fullback job if the new coaching staff does indeed, opt to keep utilizing that position.
WIDE RECEIVER (5) - Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb, Devin Smith, Cedrick Wilson
The big three are sure things, but everything after that is murky. There is an assortment of players who have a shot to make the team and we discussed these options last month. It’s hard to say what direction the Cowboys go, but for now I’m just going with the players who right now seem to show the most ability. They may also choose to go with one of the special team performers like Noah Brown or Ventell Bryant.
TIGHT END (3) - Blake Jarwin, Blake Bell, and Dalton Schultz
The Cowboys worst position group features a new starting tight end in Blake Jarwin. He’ll be joined by another Blake, as the team signed Super Bowl champ Blake Bell this offseason. The also have 2018 fourth-round pick Dalton Schultz to give them depth as well. There is nothing sexy about this group. While we’re excited to see Jarwin catch more passes, this is a group that doesn’t offer much else.
TACKLE (3) - Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, and Brandon Knight
The Cowboys have arguably the best tackle duo in the league in Tyron Smith and La’el Collins, but the team still needs to find their swing tackle. Free agent signing Cam Erving appears to be first in line to fill that role, but I’m going against the grain and say last year’s UDFA Brandon Knight wins that job.
INTERIOR OL (6) - Zack Martin, Connor Williams, Joe Looney, Connor McGovern, Tyler Biadasz, and Adam Redmond
The team is loaded with some intriguing options along the inside of the offensive line, but there is still a lot to sort out. With some young players with high draft pedigrees trying to work themselves into key roles, this is certainly an area to keep a close eye on. Many of these players also have center-flex, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Cowboys go a little long here to hang on to their offensive line depth.
EDGE (6) - DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, Aldon Smith, Dorance Armstrong, Bradlee Anae, and Joe Jackson
This is another group that has many good options. The new guys, Aldon Smith and Bradlee Anae, are generating all the buzz, but don’t forget about the team’s 2018 fourth-round draft pick Dorance Armstong. He’s a little more experienced than some of the younger, newer options, and hopefully he can take a step forward in year three. Also, last year’s fifth-round pick Joe Jackson showed some promise in camp a year ago, and he shouldn’t be discounted as someone who could land a final roster spot.
INTERIOR DL (4) - Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe, Neville Gallimore, and Antwaun Woods
Three spots should be set in stone as the newcomers McCoy, Poe, and Gallimore all feel safe to make the team. Where things start to get tricky is when it comes to Antwaun Woods and Trysten Hill, who both just so happen to be the players former head coach Jason Garrett sent home last year after showing up late to a meeting.
You’d think Hill would get more opportunities considering he’s last year’s second-round pick, but there’s a new coaching staff now, so unless he proves he’s worth a roster spot, that could be the end of his time in Dallas. Woods is the team’s best backup nose option so keeping him seems to make the most sense.
LINEBACKER (6) - Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith, Sean Lee, Joe Thomas, Luke Gifford, and Francis Bernard
The Cowboys are sitting in great shape at linebacker. Recently, Pro Football Focus named the Cowboys LB group the second-best unit in the NFL. Maybe that’s generous, but if LVE and Smith can return to their 2018 form, they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with. Lee and Thomas make up a solid bench, and they also have a couple UDFA’s that could make strong contributions on special teams.
CORNERBACK (7) - Chidobe Awuzie, Trevon Diggs, Anthony Brown, Jourdan Lewis, Daryl Worley, Reggie Robinson II, and C.J. Goodwin
The team is in a little bit of a tough spot at cornerback as they are likely transitioning from the old group to a newer group. Both Awuzie and Lewis are unrestricted free agents after the season, and there is a good chance that at least one of them isn’t retained. The Cowboys drafted a couple young corners in Diggs and Robinson, but how soon they’ll be ready to go is unclear.
Worley should be capable enough to handle the outside corner spot until Diggs is ready to go. Brown and Lewis should battle it out for the slot corner job, with the loser being relegated to a bench role. Goodwin is a bubble player, but his special teams ability could earn him one of the final roster spots.
SAFETY (4) - Xavier Woods, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Darian Thompson, and Donovan Wilson
With Woods and Clinton-Dix, the starting safety group is set. Last year’s sixth-round pick Donovan Wilson should get more opportunities to see some reps as he’s a fan favorite after showing up big in last year’s preseason games. The team also has veteran Darian Thompson, who the team re-signed to a cheap two-year deal back in March. Thompson is often overlooked, but he was a solid depth piece last year. Unless the team decides to go light at safety and Wilson proves he’s a dependable option, Thompson’s gotta a good shot to make the squad.
SPECIALISTS (3) - Greg Zuerlein, Chris Jones, and L.P. Ladouceur
The Cowboys signed both Zuerlein and Kai Forbath, so they’ll have themselves a kick off to see who wins the job. As long as Zuerlein proves healthy, he should have the edge there.
It would be nice to see the team get some competition for Jones at the punter spot as he is coming off a down year, but until that happens Jones looks to have a hold of the job. And L.P. will be long-snapping for as long as his heart desires as he’s been Mr. Consistency his entire career.
Who do you got?