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Self analysis: A time of reckoning for a Cowboys 53-man roster projection

Yes, there are receipts, and here they are for the 53-man Cowboys roster.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys Training Camp
Yeah, he made the squad.
Handout photo

Every year, lots of us try to predict the initial 53-man roster for the Dallas Cowboys. As soon as the real one comes out, we quickly move on and pretend that the glaring mistakes never happened. Well, not this time, bucko. I am going to go through my pre-cutdown projection, and grade myself with total objectivity. Or whining and excuse making. Here, by each position group, is how things went.

Specialists

My picks Reality
My picks Reality
L.P. Ladouceur L.P Ladouceur
Greg Zuerlein Greg Zuellein
Chris Jones Chris Jones

A perfect score! Of course, it was the easiest group to figure out, but we are taking the victories where we can, because things aren’t going to be so rosy the rest of the way, now, are they?

Quarterbacks

My picks Reality
My picks Reality
Dak Prescott Dak Prescott
Andy Dalton Andy Dalton
Ben DiNucci

Dang you, quarterback-loving head coach Mike McCarthy! The thinking was they would try to stash The Nooch on the practice squad. That still could be a possibility in the future if the Cowboys need to open up a spot at some point, but, well, that’s just grasping at straws.

Two out of three ain’t bad. Or so the song goes.

Running backs

My picks Reality
My picks Reality
Ezekiel Elliott Ezekeil Elliott
Tony Pollard Tony Pollard
Rico Dowdle Rico Dowdle
Sewo Olonilua

The error is obvious if you go back and look at the heading for this group, which included the word “fullback.” That seems a much less used term for McCarthy than predicted. But I am going to take credit for getting Dowdle right. So there.

Tight ends

My picks Reality
My picks Reality
Blake Jarwin Blake Jarwin
Dalton Schultz Dalton Schultz
Blake Bell Blake Bell
Sean McKeon

This is really a total miss. I did not see McKeon coming, even with the same hints that tight ends were going to be used to make fullback an unneeded position. There is also the factor that they may need some extra help pass blocking (we’ll get to that in a moment) which might have influenced things.

Wide receivers

My picks Reality
My picks Reality
Amari Cooper Amari Cooper
Michael Gallup Michael Gallup
CeeDee Lamb CeeDee Lamb
Cedrick Wilson Cedrick Wilson
Noah Brown Noah Brown
Jon'Vea Johnson Ventell Bryant

Too much weight put on the discussions about Bryant going on IR. Or just my big man crush on Johnson got in the way. Hopefully he makes it to the PS and lives to try another day.

But I got the (blatantly obvious to even the most casual observer) first five right!

Offensive line

My picks Reality
My picks Reality
Tyron Smith Tyron Smith
Connor Williams Connor Williams
Joe Looney Joe Looney
Zack Martin Zack Martin
La'el Collins La'el Collins
Connor McGovern Connor McGovern
Tyler Biadasz Tyler Biadasz
Cameron Erving Cameron Erving
Brandon Knight Brandon Knight
Terence Steele

Steele was the miss, but the team was doing an awfully good job of denying that Collins was having a real issue. We now know he is going to wind up on IR, and Steele was the choice to fill his spot, at least for now. So it’s all their fault.

That totals 26 on offense, which is the opposite way I’d thought the team would go on allocating assets between O and D. That may not hold very long, of course. There are certainly some things going to happen defensively as well.

Defensive ends

My picks Reality
My picks Reality
DeMarcus Lawrence DeMarcus Larwence
Everson Griffen Everson Griffen
Aldon Smith Aldon Smith
Tyrone Crawford Tyrone Crawford
Bradlee Anae Bradlee Anae
Dorance Armstrong Dorance Armstrong

Nailed it. Not that it was that hard. Some questioned whether Armstrong was going to make the team, with Dallas maybe only carrying five DEs. But McCarthy said months ago he liked to carry six ends and four tackles for the defensive line. Some prognosticators just ignored that. Turned out, he meant it.

Defensive tackles

My picks Reality
My picks Reality
Dontari Poe Dontari Poe
Trysten Hill Trysten Hill
Neville Gallimore Neville Gallimore
Antwaun Woods Antwaun Woods

On a hot streak now! Actually, this was easy to figure out, especially once Gerald McCoy was lost to injury. Had he not been hurt, the decision would have likely come down to Hill versus Woods - and given that Hill is the planned starter now, he would probably have won that battle.

Linebackers

My picks Reality
My picks Reality
Jaylon Smith Jaylon Smith
Leighton Vander Esch Leighton Vander Esch
Sean Lee Sean Lee
Joe Thomas Joe Thomas
Luke Gifford Luke Gifford
Justin March
Francis Bernard

Yeah, I was the most wrong here, but there is another thing going on here. Lee is also projected to be going on IR, and reports are that March will be re-signed to the roster to fill in for him. So that one is not really a miss, just not anticipating the manipulations involved.

Bernard, however, was a complete whiff. He was just about a consensus pick to make the roster by everyone, and is the biggest surprise for most. Presumably he is a target for the practice squad, with a chance to wind up on the roster at some point in the season. For now, he’s just one that the team fooled just about all of us on.

Cornerbacks

My picks Reality
My picks Reality
Chidobe Awuzie Chidobe Awuzie
Anthony Brown Anthony Brown
Trevon Diggs Trevon Diggs
Daryl Worley Daryl Worley
C.J. Goodwin Jourdan Lewis

I expected Lewis to go on IR, but that does not seem to be the plan. However, reports are that Goodwin will rejoin the team when Lee and Collins go on IR, so once again I just didn’t anticipate those machinations.

Safety

My picks Reality
My picks Reality
Xavier Woods Xavier Woods
Donovan Wilson Donovan Wilson
Darian Thompson Darian Thompson
Reggie Robinson II Reggie Robinson II

The only thing that I may have missed here is whether Robinson is really a corner, but the names are all correct, so call it a win. That comes up to 24 defenders total, but if Goodwin is effectively the replacement for Collins on the roster, it will be evenly balanced.

Overall, I had a total of eight mistakes by my count, with one or two that will kind of correct themselves going forward. The biggest problem was in how the slots would be allocated by position group.

I did anticipate that Ha Ha Clinton-Dix wasn’t making the team, but I really should have seen the Nooch coming.