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3 different Cowboys 53-man roster projections help pinpoint contested roster spots

We look at three different roster projections to try to understand how the roster could shake up after final cuts next week.

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Las Vegas Raiders v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Cowboys coaches have been busy this week watching film from the two preseason games, studying tape from the three padded practices against the Broncos and Chargers, and reviewing their notes from the training camp practices in Oxnard. And one of the things they were likely doing in the process is slotting their players into some kind of a depth chart; a depth chart they have been building since the start of OTAs and one that has been constantly reconfigured.

So we’re going to do a similar exercise today and take a look at what the Cowboys’ final 53-man roster could look like based on what we’ve seen so far in training camp and in the preseason games. To do that, we’re going to look at three separate projections. One from David Helman at Fox Sports, one from John Machota at The Athletic, and one from Michael Gehlken at the Dallas Morning News. All three writers have been to camp, and their projections should give us a good idea of where public sentiment currently stands regarding the 2022 Cowboys roster.

I’ve combined all three projections in the table below. The table highlights (in yellow) the spots that do not yet appear to be locked down. Look closely, and you’ll see there aren’t many of those spots left, at least if these three projections are anything to go by. The projections may feel like they have a certain degree of certainty and finality, but they don’t, not really. There are bound to be some surprise cuts and perhaps even late additions that nobody saw coming. With that in mind, here are the projections and a few attendant thoughts:

The Athletic
Gehlken, DMN
Prescott Prescott Prescott
Rush Rush Rush
Grier Grier

At QB, the question is whether they keep one or two backups, and Rush seems to have a leg up on Grier. Realistically though, for now the Cowboys have Dak Prescott at QB and that’s it, so I’d go with just one backup.

The Athletic
Gehlken, DMN
Elliott Elliott Elliott
Pollard Pollard Pollard
Davis Dowdle Dowdle
Schulz Schulz Schulz
Ferguson Ferguson Ferguson
McKeon McKeon McKeon
Lamb Lamb Lamb
Tolbert Tolbert Tolbert
Brown Brown Brown
Turpin Turpin Turpin
Fehoko Fehoko Fehoko
Washington Washington Washington
Houston Houston Houston
Gallup Gallup

Not too many surprises for the skill position players outside of QB.

The third RB spot looks like a contest between Dowdle and Davis. Either would be a good option, I suspect they’ll go with the upside of the rookie Davis.

At TE, Peyton Hendershot has performed well in camp and preseason, and Gehlken at the DMN likes him as the fourth TE. Roster spots are tight this year, and Hendershot might lose out to a talent at another position.

All three writers project a high number of spots at WR. Turpin is slotted in as a WR, so that increases the count a little, but with Gallup and Washington both recovering from injury, the Cowboys likely need to go long at the position. Helman and Machota speculate that Gallup may not go on PUP and might be ready to play as early as Week 3, and recent events seem to confirm the Cowboys are having similar thoughts:

The Athletic
Gehlken, DMN
Tyron Smith Tyron Smith Tyron Smith
Tyler Smith Tyler Smith Tyler Smith
Biadasz Biadasz Biadasz
Martin Martin Martin
Steele Steele Steele
McGovern McGovern McGovern
Farniok Farniok Farniok
Waletzko Waletzko
Ball Ball

Will they go long with nine offensive linemen, or will they go short and go with eight? In any case, it looks like either Ball or Waletzko will get that swing tackle job, though there’s a chance the Cowboys could go looking for a veteran backup tackle after final cuts.

On the defensive side of the ball, the three projections are almost identical, with only the fifth linebacker spot still undecided between Devin Harper and Luke Gifford. Here’s the overview:

The Athletic
Gehlken, DMN
Odighizuwa Odighizuwa Odighizuwa
Gallimore Gallimore Gallimore
Hill Hill Hill
Bohanna Bohanna Bohanna
Ridgeway Ridgeway Ridgeway
Lawrence Lawrence Lawrence
Armstrong Armstrong Armstrong
Fowler Fowler Fowler
Williams Williams Williams
Golston Golston Golston
Parsons Parsons Parsons
Vander Esch Vander Esch Vander Esch
Barr Barr Barr
Cox Cox Cox
Harper Harper Gifford
Diggs Diggs Diggs
Brown Brown Brown
Lewis Lewis Lewis
Joseph Joseph Joseph
Wright Wright Wright
Bland Bland Bland
Kearse Kearse Kearse
Hooker Hooker Hooker
Wilson Wilson Wilson
Mukuamu Mukuamu Mukuamu
Bell Bell Bell

Finally, on special teams, all three writers have figured out a way to fit 54 players on a 53-man roster. Helman explains:

Also, as I said last week, Jake McQuaide is the perfect candidate for a player who can be cut on Tuesday and brought back by Wednesday. The Cowboys might release their long snapper, but he’ll be back as soon as a couple of roster spots open up.

The Athletic
Gehlken, DMN
Anger Anger Anger
Maher Maher Hajrullahu

Gehlken’s projection took the first hit on Tuesday when the Cowboys released kicker Lirim Hajrullahu, which makes Brett Maher the winner of the kicker competition in camp.

What’s your take on the combined projections above, and which of your pet cats did the three projections slight?

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