We are about two months away from training camp beginning for the Dallas Cowboys and when things kick off there will be a number of training camp roster battles. It will be very interesting to see how snaps are handed out at the linebacker position with Micah Parsons eating into the overall share, and before long Jabril Cox joining him. They will have to battle Leighton Vander Esch or Jaylon Smith, and they will be, at the very least, legitimate competition for the rookies to get through.
What about elsewhere on the roster? Where do the Cowboys still lack a number of legitimate options? This is something that the crew of Dave Sturchio, Bret Ernst, and Keith Ernst discussed on the latest episode of Jersey Boyz on the Blogging The Boys podcast network (subscribe on Apple devices right here or on Spotify right here); you can listen to the episode above this paragraph.
At this point there aren’t a lot of places for the Cowboys to look in terms of spots to add talent as the draft is over, and while there are still technically free agents to be had they are obviously of lower quality.
Where should they be worried, though?
Cornerback (really the secondary as a whole)
There was a case to be made entering the 2021 NFL Draft that the Cowboys were weakest at corner, really the secondary as a whole. Unfortunately Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain II went to Carolina and Denver, respectively, just before Dallas picked and they wound up trading back.
While it is true that the Cowboys did add to the secondary by way of Kelvin Joseph and Nahshon Wright in the second and third rounds, that certainly is not enough in terms of on-paper additions to make things feel safe (they also drafted Israel Mukuamu in the sixth).
Perhaps this is a position where the Cowboys have quantity that they are able to mine quality out of, because they also signed a handful of secondary players in free agency in Damontae Kazee and Jayron Kearse. Hopefully they are able to find some stable starters, but for now it feels like they are on some shaky ground.
This is a place where there is concern as the Cowboys wound up depending heavily on their backup quarterback(s) in 2020. If you are having to rely on anyone other than Dak Prescott the odds are not exactly in your favor, but if the Cowboys need someone to carry them for a game or two, that can be a difference when it comes down to playoffs.
As of now the Cowboys have Garrett Gilbert, Cooper Rush, and Ben DiNucci as options behind Prescott at quarterback. Both Gilbert and DiNucci started games for them last season in Dak’s absence and the former looked rather functional (not as much can be said for the latter).
Dallas was connected to Jeff Driskel this offseason, but he wound up signing with the Houston Texans. They had veteran Brett Hundley in for a visit last week although it doesn’t seem like anything is going to materialize there in the short-term either. Perhaps the Cowboys are just dotting i’s and crossing t’s, but right now it is fair to be concerned here.
This feels like it could go one of two ways, but given the fact that the Cowboys had to rely on a number of different tackle options last year means it is fair to be worried about what is going to happen there.
Dallas is hopefully going to get Tyron Smith and La’el Collins for a majority of the 2021 season, but what if they don’t? The options behind them right now are last year’s fill-in players in Brandon Knight and Terence Steele, who did pick up valuable experience early on in their careers, as well as veteran Ty Nsekhe who the team signed this offseason. Is that truly enough to ward off your fears?
The Cowboys could end up with a utility player of sorts if Connor Williams does not keep his starting job at left guard this year. Dallas wound up passing on Rashawn Slater in the draft (twice at that) in favor of Micah Parsons, so they clearly feel optimistic about the position, but should they?