We’ve passed the madness of free agency although signings will continue to trickle in around the NFL, and the Cowboys will probably be involved in a few of them. We are also getting into anticipation mode for the NFL draft, the next big avenue of impacting the 2022 roster.
Before the draft, and before they sign anymore free agents, let’s tale a look at what would be the projected starting offensive lineup for Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season if the Cowboys didn’t make another rove on their roster. This should help us see the top-level needs on the roster that the team can attack in the draft or free agency.
QB Dak Prescott
This one is easy. The Cowboys are going to start Prescott and they seem to have confidence in Cooper Rush as the backup. They kept Rush as the #2 last year and after he won the Minnesota Vikings game, there is no reason to think the Cowboys feel any different about him
But Prescott is the key piece here and the one that keeps this position from being a need of any kind.
RB Ezekiel Elliott
There is a debate about whether Elliott or Tony Pollard should be RB1. It doesn’t feel like the Cowboys brass is interested in having this debate and continue to roll Elliott out as the starter. While many fans hope they see the light and give Pollard his due, having both players on the roster certainly means that running back is far down the list of priorities.
WR CeeDee Lamb, James Washington, Noah Brown
Our lineup is running 11 personnel so we have three starting wide receivers. You might notice a big name missing. Michael Gallup, by almost all accounts, will not really be ready for Week 1, and there is speculation that he could miss a few games at the start of the season.
For this reason, James Washington has been elevated to WR2 and Noah Brown slides in at WR 3. The only other player that could reasonably be considered for a spot here is Simi Fehoko as WR3, but we haven't seen enough to make that call.
This position group needs help. They really need a another veteran or high draft choice to fill in for Gallup as long as he is out. There is a very real possibility that Gallup takes until the second part of the season to really be the Gallup we know. They need something beyond the combo of Washingtonian and Brown. They have to upgrade to not give up their first few games without Gallup, and they need to protect themselves against a possible slow recovery by Gallup that lingers deep into the season.
TE Dalton Schultz
The tight end position is tricky. They only have Dalton Schultz as a true weapon here. Everyone else on the roster just fills a specific role. But Schultz is enough for this season as the starter, but they will want to get a developmental tight end on the roster for the future. Schultz is on a one-year franchise deal so there is no guarantee he will be back in 2023. They aren’t desperate for help now, but injury or Schultz not signing long-term could cause a need down the road.
LT Tyron Smith
Smith is the starter if healthy. That ‘if healthy’ part is the cause for concern. Dallas doesn’t really have a swing tackle you can trust right now. They will probably do what they have done for the last few years and sign a cheap veteran later in free agency.
LG Connor McGovern
The Cowboys wanted Connor McGovern to be their left guard of the future. But the experiment in 2021 didn’t work out. Now with Connor Williams signing elsewhere, this becomes the biggest hole on the offensive side of the roster. It’s almost telegraphing that the Cowboys will pick a guard in the draft in one of the early rounds. They could also add a cheap veteran just to cover themselves. Looking at the starting lineup, this is obviously the biggest position of need.
C Tyler Biadsz
The odds are probably 90% that Tyler Biadasz will be the starting center in 2022. One reason is that there is no one on the roster to really compete with him. The other is the Cowboys are probably willing to give him another year to see his growth. Biadasz is in that mid-zone where he doesn’t necessarily need to be replaced now, but if he doesn’t improve he might need to be replaced next year. Unless a Tyler Linderbaum falls to them in the draft, Biadasz will be the man for 2022.
RG Zack Martin
Um, next please. Nothing to discuss here.
RT Terence Steele
One of the reasons the Cowboys dumped La’el Collins in free agency is their belief in Terence Steele. They think that for a whole lot less money, they have a player who can develop into their future right tackle. As of right now, Steele is a serviceable starter as we have seen over the last few years. Now, he will be given the opportunity to grow and claim the position long term. But, as noted with Smith above, the Cowboys certainly need a decent swing tackle for 2022.
There is nothing earth-shattering here. This exercise only confirms what was already known. Before the 2022 season begins, they absolutely need a starting left guard. They also need a receiver who can play a role in the rotation, especially early in the year when Gallup is still working his way back in. And picking up a swing tackle that will be ready for 2022 is also a definite need.
Next we’ll look at the defense.