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:
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.
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:
Cowboys did not put Michael Gallup on reserve/PUP today, which would have knocked him out of first four games. A sign team remains hopeful he can play at some point in September. “He hasn’t had any setbacks,” Mike McCarthy said. “He’s doing really well.”— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) August 23, 2022
|Tyron Smith||Tyron Smith||Tyron Smith|
|Tyler Smith||Tyler Smith||Tyler Smith|
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:
|Vander Esch||Vander Esch||Vander Esch|
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.
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?