On Saturday, NFL teams will need to have their rosters trimmed down to 53 players. Over the course of the next few days, the Dallas Cowboys will continue to release players as they gradually work toward that goal. The team has already announced several releases that include Devin Smith and Adam Redmond, and it’s only a matter of time before we hear the rest.
Before the final roster cuts are made, we wanted to take a look at each position group to identify one bubble player, and make our best guess in whether or not that player makes the team. Here are 10 players who are on the fringe...
QUARTERBACK - Ben DiNucci
Where did he come from? He’s the Cowboys 2020 seventh-round draft pick. He played his college ball at James Madison where he completed an astounding 71% of his passes last season.
Roster Outlook: With the team adding Andy Dalton in free agency, the Cowboys are set at the backup quarterback spot. DiNucci is just a development guy for the future, and his chances to make the team really come down to whether or not the coaching staff feels they can safely sneak him on the practice squad.
Prediction: It was serendipitous to meet his eventual head coach in an elevator, so let’s not risk Da Nooch getting poached. He makes the team.
RUNNING BACK/FULLBACK - Sewo Olonilua
Where did he come from? He’s a 2020 undrafted free agent out of Texas Christian.
Roster Outlook: Initially, he was thought to add some competition for Jamize Olawale at the fullback position. However, after Olawale opted out of the season, Olonilua was in the drivers seat for the job. The question now is will the Cowboys even keep a fullback? We don’t really know what new head coach Mike McCarthy will do here, but if history is any indication, you have to like Olonilua’s chances. Between John Kuhn and Aaron Ripkowski, McCarthy’s usage of a fullback in Green Bay has been twice to nearly three times that much than the Cowboys have used in recent years.
Prediction: Better learn to spell his name, because he could be sticking around.
WIDE RECEIVER - Ventell Bryant
Where did he come from? He’s a 2019 UDFA from the Cincinnati Bengals and was signed to the Cowboys practice squad after being waived last August. He was then promoted to the active roster when Kavon Frazier got hurt.
Roster Outlook: Bryant did a good job on special teams for the Cowboys last season, and that would be his role again this season if he makes the team. With very little receiving value to offer, it really comes down to whether or not he can outperform Noah Brown.
Prediction: Released. Noah takes the final WR roster spot.
TIGHT END - Sean McKeon
Where did he come from? He’s a 2020 UDFA from Michigan.
Roster Outlook: The Cowboys have Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz, and Blake Bell as the main guys at the position, but the undrafted rookie McKeon has had a good camp. His reliability as a blocker could earn him a spot if the team opts to go with four tight ends.
Prediction: He was one of my draft predictions as he fits well with the team, but it just feels like there’s too much talent elsewhere to occupy those last roster spots. Released. Should make the practice squad.
OFFENSIVE LINE - Terence Steele
Where did he come from? 2020 UDFA from Texas Tech.
Roster Outlook: Between injuries and car crashes, the Cowboys tackle position have been depleted in training camp. These circumstances have provided the undrafted rookie with some extra opportunities, and he’s done okay. It may seem like a long shot, but this team loves to stash promising UDFA linemen (see Brandon Knight) if they feel he could be a key piece down the road.
Prediction: The release of Adam Redmond makes Steele a real possibility, but he’s more likely to be released and signed to the practice squad.
EDGE - Dorance Armstrong
Where did he come from? He’s a 2018 fourth-round pick out of Kansas.
Roster Outlook: Armstrong showed some promise in camp last season to the point where the team moved on from Taco Charlton, but the competition is much more fierce these days. The addition of Everson Griffen, Aldon Smith, and Bradlee Anae has created a full house on the edge. It feels a little goofy to even include Armstrong as a bubble player, but many people are leaving him off their roster predictions, so that’s why we bring him up.
Prediction: Reps will be scarce, but Armstrong is still good enough to be in the conversation for some playing time. He makes the cut.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE - Trysten Hill
Where did he come from? He’s a 2019 second-round pick from Central Florida.
Roster Outlook: There are many defensive tackles as Dontari Poe, Antwaun Woods, and Neville Gallimore should see the bulk of the action. And with edge so deep, Tyrone Crawford will get his fair share of reps at the 3-tech spot. Before the Gerald McCoy injury, Hill’s chances to make the team was iffy, but with a spot available combined with some positive strides in his progress, Hill is back in the thick of things.
Prediction: He makes it, but rest assured, he won’t have as big of a leash as his draft price might indicate.
LINEBACKER - Justin March
Where did he come from? He’s an UDFA by the Kansas City Chiefs back in 2015; signed with Dallas in 2017.
Roster Outlook: The veteran linebacker is on the team primarily for his special teams play as he hasn’t made a single start on defense since joining the Cowboys. Initially, his spot seemed more secure as it would take two other younger undrafted free agents, Luke Gifford and Francis Bernard, to outperform him for March to be left off the team. Well, it’s a real possibility that’s happened. Bernard’s had a great camp and should earn one of the roster spots. Gifford was outstanding last season, but if the team has doubts about his health, they may go with March because they know what they’re getting with him.
Prediction: Released. The upside of the youngsters are more valuable to hang on to.
CORNERBACK - C.J. Goodwin
Where did he come from? He’s an UDFA by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2014, but has signed with a total of six teams before landing with Dallas in 2018.
Roster Outlook: The Cowboys are deep at cornerback, and there really isn’t much room for Goodwin to carve out any playing time on defense. Luckily for him, he’s a standout special teams player, so that will punch his ticket on a team that is looking to take a major step towards improving an incompetent group from a year ago.
Prediction: It’s a good move to keep Goodwin. He makes it.
SAFETY - Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Where did he come from? A first-round draft pick from the Green Bay Packers in 2014, he signed with the Cowboys in free agency this offseason.
Roster Outlook: Losing Jeff Heath and adding Clinton-Dix seemed like an instant upgrade at the safety position as this former Pro Bowler has racked up 13 interceptions over the last four seasons. But a lackluster camp has made some question if his spot on the roster is safe. Darian Thompson has been outperforming him and could be end up earning that second starting safety spot alongside Xavier Woods.
Prediction: While Clinton-Dix may not be what the team hoped for initially, the Cowboys safety depth isn’t all that deep. He sticks around for now.
Here are my final 53-man roster predictions for the Cowboys: