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Dallas Cowboys 53-man roster prediction after first roster cutdown and week one of preseason

Here’s a Cowboys’ 53-man roster prediction after first roster cutdowns and week one of preseason.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys week one of preseason did not start out as planned after falling to 0-1. While there’s plenty of questions surrounding the Cowboys after their loss to the Denver Broncos, cutting their roster from 90 to 85 is the number one priority.

The team announced that they have already made those five moves by saying goodbye to CB Kyron Brown, FB Ryan Nall, TE Ian Bunting, WR Ty Fryfogle, and DT Austin Faoliu. The team will have another cutdown next week getting from 85 to 80, but today let’s predict the Cowboys 53-man roster for the start of the regular season.

Quarterback (2)

  1. Dak Prescott
  2. Will Grier

The Cowboys have kept three quarterbacks on the roster more often than not here recently, but doing that this year would be a mistake. With Cooper Rush’s struggles in preseason, and Ben DiNucci likely still a practice squad candidate, going with the higher ceiling backup in Will Grier makes the most sense. The Cowboys don’t have a backup quarterback currently on the roster that has the ability to change a season if Dak Prescott happens to go down with an injury, so keeping three quarterbacks on the final 53 would be a mistake.

Running Back (3)

  1. Ezekiel Elliott
  2. Tony Pollard
  3. Rico Dowdle

It shouldn’t shock anyone if rookie RB Malik Davis ends up earning a roster spot after a scorching hot camp and start to the preseason, but for now the Cowboys will likely be content with Elliott, Pollard, and Dowdle. With Elliott and Pollard taking up a majority of the snaps at the running back position, there’s no real reason to keep a fourth runner with Dowdle having support from the coaching staff, and impressing in the limited opportunities he’s gotten when healthy.

Wide Receiver (6)

  1. CeeDee Lamb
  2. Noah Brown
  3. Jalen Tolbert
  4. Michael Gallup / Dennis Houston
  5. James Washington / KaVontae Turpin
  6. Simi Fehoko

The WR depth chart on the initial 53-man roster will look a lot different soon after. In order for James Washington, and possibly Michael Gallup, to return from IR or PUP, they will need to be on the team original 53-man roster to start the season. Michael Gallup has a chance to not be placed on any reserve list and just be inactive the first few weeks of the season if they think he can be back sooner rather than later. If both guys end up on a reserve list, Dennis Houstin and KaVontae Turpin would likely get the call up in there place, though don’t forget about second-year man T.J. Vasher who could also be in consideration for a roster spot, depending on his performances throughout the rest of camp and preseason.

Tight End (3)

  1. Dalton Schultz
  2. Sean McKeon
  3. Jake Ferguson

The Cowboys are in a tricky spot here long-term, with Dalton Schultz playing this season on a franchise tag. While the goal is to get the best out of their tight end group in 2022, the Cowboys may also experiment with seeing who has the best ability to takeover Schultz spot in 2023 if they do end up going in a different direction. Ferguson and Hendershot both had very strong preseason games against the Broncos, and the whispers of this team really liking UDFA Peyton Hendershot have started to get louder, but with Ferguson being drafted as high as he was, Hendershot may be in line for a practice squad spot. Don’t be shocked if they take a long-term approach here at the tight end position, possibly going with four tight ends, instead of three as we see a phantom IR stash if someone gets a little banged up over the next few weeks.

Offensive Line (9)

  1. Tyron Smith
  2. Tyler Smith
  3. Tyler Biadasz
  4. Zack Martin
  5. Terence Steele
  6. Connor McGovern
  7. Josh Ball
  8. Matt Farniok
  9. Matt Waletzko / Aviante Collins

Similar to the wide receiver room, Matt Waletzko is likely quickly headed to IR soon after making the roster. While Waletzko could land on injured reserve for the entirety of the season, the team would also like to get him back if at all possible as he needs plenty of practice time to develop. With that in mind, expect Waletzko to make the initial 53, then moved to IR-to-return so he can comeback at some point this season. Aviante Collins is the only veteran in camp currently and would likely slide into his spot once placed on IR. This is also one of the spots you’d almost gurantee to see some sort of move at some point this offseason before we get to week one, with how weak they currently from a depth standpoint at offensive tackle.

Defensive Line (11)

  1. DeMarcus Lawrence
  2. Dorance Armstrong
  3. Dante Fowler
  4. Sam Williams
  5. Tarell Basham
  6. Neville Gallimore
  7. Osa Odighizuwa
  8. Chauncey Gholston
  9. Trysten Hill
  10. Carlos Watkins
  11. John Ridgeway

The only real question here comes down to keeping Quinton Bohanna or Tarrel Basham. They could go the opposite way here keeping Bohanna over Basham, with the EDGE use you can get out of Anthony Barr and Micah Parsons, but this coaching staff seems to like Basham and his versatility on defense. 11 seems like a lot on the defensive line, but with DeMarcus Lawrence’s recent injury history, and the rotation that will be needed to fill in the void of losing Randy Gregory, going a little deep here is by no means a bad idea.

Linebacker (6)

  1. Micah Parsons
  2. Leighton Vander Esch
  3. Anthony Barr
  4. Jabril Cox
  5. Devon Harper
  6. Malik Jefferson

With Damone Clark not expected to make much of an impact in year one, this list was rather easy to workout. Malik Jefferson has had an impressive camp so far, and he offers a higher ceiling as the teams sixth linebacker than Luke Gifford, who has been around for sometime, and never really been given much of an opportunity. This is one of the deeper and more complete units with Parsons, Vander Esch, recently acquired Anthony Barr, Cox, rookie Devon Harper, and Malik Jefferson. This is also an interesting position, that will see a lot of shuffling due to Parsons and Barr both playing some as edge rushers as well as their linebacker duties. Either way this unit has the talent and depth we wish more groups on this team had heading into the season.

Cornerback (5)

  1. Trevon Diggs
  2. Anthony Brown
  3. Jourdan Lewis
  4. DaRon Bland
  5. Nahshon Wright

While in most cases moving on from a second-round pick after one year admits a big mistake, most cases don’t involve Kelvin Joseph who was involved in an offseason murder investigation, has started off camp and preseason on a very rough note, and the whispers of the lack of work ethic have seemed to get louder. While Nahshon Wright also had a disappointing showing in week one of the preseason, Wright has been the better practice player so far in camp. It would surprise to see Kelvin Joseph cut, but it’s something that shouldn’t be totally ruled out. This is one of the bigger surprises in the 53-man roster prediction, but don’t rule it out unless Joseph really turns it around.

Safety (5)

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Jayron Kearse
  2. Malik Hooker
  3. Donovan Wilson
  4. Israel Mukuamu
  5. Markquese Bell

While some might think we’re going on the lighter side at corner, we must remember that Israel Mukuamu has been getting some work at cornerback in camp and has done pretty well. Safety is another position we should have few concerns about heading into the regular season. With Kearse and Hooker expected to be the starters, look for them to show plenty of three safety looks this season with Wilson and Mukuamu getting work on defense and special teams. Don’t be surprised when UDFA Markquese Bell works his way into the fold either after being one of the biggest winners of preseason week one and training camp.

Specialist (3)

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Bryan Anger
  2. Lirim Hajrullahu
  3. Jake McQuade

Flip a coin on the kicker here. Similar to swing tackle, the Cowboys may see if any veterans get cut late in the season, and take a risk on a veteran kicker that has a better track record than Lirim Hajrullahu or Brett Maher. It’s still very surprising the Cowboys left themselves this weak at kicker throughout the offseason and into preseason, knowing how much they rely on them in-season. Give the slight nod to Lirim Hajrullahu over Maher as of now, as he’s been around longer, and has showed more in camp so far. Maher finishing camp strong and making some big kicks in the preseason could change that though.

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