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Rookie watch: Cowboys roster locks, bubble players, and who is on the outside looking in

Predicting the futures of the Dallas Cowboys 2021 draft class.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t look now, but the Dallas Cowboys are just shy of a month away from kicking off the 2021 season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 9. That makes the rest of the time on the practice field, and the three remaining preseason games, extremely important for players vying for a roster spot with the Cowboys this year, especially the rookies.

As first-year players, rookies have to be weighed and measured a lot more closely than proven veterans as far as getting under the league mandated 53-man roster is concerned. Immediate returns on investments doesn’t always happen, so the Cowboys coaching staff has to keep the future in mind when determining the fate of younger players.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Dallas Cowboys 2021 draft class to determine where they might stand right now heading into the second preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals.

ROSTER LOCKS

Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Micah Parsons - Few are doubting Micah Parsons was the right pick for the Cowboys in the first-round of the 2021 NFL Draft this year. This dude is a stud and is looking/playing like a true difference-making type of defensive weapon already. He was the highest graded player (78.8) from the Hall of Fame game according to PFF, making the most of his few reps with a couple tackles and a fumble recovery. The sky is a limit for him.

Kelvin Joseph - Although Kelvin Joseph had very little collegiate experience at both LSU and Kentucky before joining the Cowboys, he is surprisingly putting himself in contention to earn the starting job opposite Trevon Diggs this year. His play is already causing people to question Anthony Brown’s job security in 2021, meaning it could be between him and fellow rookie CB Nahshon Wright as to who starts or not.

Osa Odighizuwa - Osa Odighizuwa was the first of two defensive tackles the Dallas Cowboys drafted this year to hopefully upgrade their defensive front for the next few years. While he hasn’t done anything to really stand out as of yet in training camp or preseason, he has done enough to earn a roster spot this year with the Cowboys. He should be a key contributor in the defensive line rotation not only this year, but for years to come.

Nahshon Wright - Give credit to the Cowboys scouting department, and their War Room, for going out and drafting Nahshon Wright a lot earlier than many had him pegged going. The Cowboys third-round pick this year has opened a lot of eyes with his play in training camp and in the Hall of Fame game already. Because of that he’s put himself in contention for the starting job opposite Trevon Diggs this year.

Jabril Cox - If not for Micah Parsons, Jabril Cox would likely receive more attention than he’s currently getting at linebacker. Surprisingly enough, he was PFF’s second highest graded player (76.7) in the Hall of Fame game last week behind only No. 11. He may be a little buried on the LB depth chart right now, but that doesn’t mean his roster spot isn’t secure. He could be the future starting WILL LB in the not-too-distant future, quite possibly by next year.

Quinton Bohanna - Quinton Bohanna, like Osa Odighizuwa, is the future of the Dallas Cowboys defensive front and has already proven he’ll play a key role as a rookie this year. The big-bodied, space-eating DT still has a lot of work to do before he can be relied upon as a starter, but he’s already showing he’s more athletic than many believed coming out of Kentucky. He’s looking like another late-round steal for the Cowboys.


BUBBLE PLAYERS

Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Simi Fehoko - In just about any other year Simi Fehoko would likely be considered as close to a roster lock as possible right now considering his intriguing skill set for a player with his size and speed, and the fact he was a draft pick. Sadly though, he plays a position the Cowboys are extremely deep at right now. Because of that he could be caught in a numbers game and is likely in direct competition with Noah Brown for a roster spot this year.

Israel Mukuamu - Israel Mukuamu finds himself in a similar situation as Fehoko as a bubble player right now with the Dallas Cowboys. He too has to worry about the numbers game at the safety position. The Cowboys will likely only carry four safeties on the active roster this season and as things stand right now things could teeter totter either way for him. It could come down to between him and Jayron Kearse for the final roster spot at safety.


WHO’S ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN?

Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Chauncey Golston - An unfortunate injury has kept Chauncey Golston sidelined in training camp and unavailable for the Hall of Fame game against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week. Because of that he has yet been able to establish himself as a player worthy of a roster spot. The Cowboys definitely need depth behind DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory and fortunately for Golston he still has nearly a month to prove himself.

Josh Ball - Like Golston, Josh Ball’s untimely injury that’s kept him out of practice and Dallas’ first preseason game against the Steelers is preventing him from proving to the coaching staff he’s worth a roster spot. After the way Ty Nsekhe and Brandon Knight played last week, Ball has a chance to put himself in contention to be the Cowboys swing tackle this year once healthy. But, until that happens, he will remain on the outside looking in.

Matt Farniok - There’s no doubt the Cowboys need a reliable backup at both guard and center heading into the 2021 season, but that player may or may not be on the roster right now. Matt Farniok has a chance to fill that backup role this season, but in order to do so he’s really going to have to develop his game sooner rather than later. Drafted as a potential developmental prospect that may be too much to ask for him this year.