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Predicting the Dallas Cowboys 2023 starters and top position battles to watch

We break down who should start for the Dallas Cowboys in 2023, and where the competition will be fierce.

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Through free agency, trades, and the 2023 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys pretty much have all the pieces in place to fill other starting roster for the upcoming season. While there may be a few more additions to the roster before the season opener against the New York Giants, other than probably a new place kicker, it’s unlikely it will be anyone who will challenge for starting job.

With that in mind, we’re going to attempt to predict the Cowboys starters on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball this year. Also, we’re going to identify a few position battles to keep an eye on because not all starting jobs are set in stone as of yet.

Projected Offense

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Starting Lineup: QB Dak Prescott, RB Tony Pollard, WR CeeDee Lamb, WR Brandin Cooks, WR Michael Gallup, TE Jake Ferguson, LT Tyron Smith, LG Tyler Smith, C Tyler Biadasz, RG Zack Martin, RT Terence Steele

Despite releasing Ezekiel Elliott and the seeing Connor McGovern and Dalton Schultz exit via free agency, the Cowboys are still in pretty good shape offensively and should once again be one of the more dangerous offenses in the league in 2023. This unit is nearly identical to last year’s offense, except for a few pretty significant changes.

To begin with, Tony Pollard will now be the unquestioned RB1 with Zeke no longer in the picture. It’s going to be really interesting to see what he can do in his first full-time action as the starter handling the bulk of the work load. That alone should make Dallas’ offense more explosive, as will the addition of Brandin Cooks via trade, the only real new piece this year to the offense.

Despite drafting Luke Schoonmaker in the second-round this year, Jake Ferguson probably gets a nod early on replacing Dak Prescott’s security blanket in the passing game, Dalton Schultz. And as far as the offensive line goes, it really all depends on the health of both Tyron Smith and Terence Steele. If both are ready to go, and can stay healthy, they should be the bookends on the OL this year.

Projected Defense

Dallas Cowboys v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images

Starting Lineup: DE Micah Parsons, DT Osa Odighizuwa, DT Mazi Smith, DE DeMarcus Lawrence, LB Leighton Vander Esch, LB Damone Clark, CB Trevon Diggs, CB Stephon Gilmore, CB (slot) DaRon Bland, S Donovan Wilson, S Jayron Kearse

Believe it or not, but the Dallas Cowboys starting defense is all but set in stone right now before any Organized Team Activities (OTA’s) and training camp practices even start. There are a few additions that should make them even better, however, none of them should come too much of a surprise.

The trade for Stephon Gilmore is arguably the biggest change from last season to this year. He will be taking over for Anthony Brown on the outside starting opposite Trevon Diggs and should make Dallas’ secondary better than it was a year ago. Other than that, the Cowboys secondary should remain much the same, however, don’t forget about Jourdan Lewis.

At linebacker there’s no question about who the starters will be. Leighton Vander Esch and Damone Clark are really the only proven commodities at the position right now, leaving quite a bit of questions behind them. Dallas will need some of their younger, unproven LBs to step up and prove themselves this year.

There’s no question as to who the starting defensive ends will be this year either. DeMarcus Lawrence and Micah Parsons will yet again will be a dangerous duo coming off the edges in 2023. And on the defensive line the only new face will probably be the Cowboys first-round pick this year, Mazi Smith. His addition should immediately make the entire unit better.

Position Battles to Watch

New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Jake Ferguson vs. Luke Schoonmaker

Despite predicting Jake Ferguson as the Cowboys starting TE for the 2023 season, he could be challenged for the job by Dallas’ second-round pick Luke Schoonmaker. Ferguson right now gets the nod due to the fact he has a year of experience under his belt and looked more than capable of being Dalton Schultz’s replacement last year when given the opportunity. However, that doesn’t mean Schoonmaker isn’t capable of earning the starting gig as a rookie. His experience in a pro-style offense at Michigan could put him ahead of learning curve, meaning he could challenge for the starting job from Day 1.

Deuce Vaughn and the battle for RB2

There’s no questioning Tony Pollard as the Dallas Cowboys starting running back this year. He’s going to carry the bulk of the work load in 2023, however, who becomes the Robin to his Batman is completely up in the air right now. While whoever earns the RB2 job technically isn’t a starter, their importance to maintaining offensive production throughout the season makes them nearly almost as important. Right now Deuce Vaughn could be the favorite to share the workload with Tony Pollard, however, we can’t rule out Rico Dowdle, Malik Davis, Ronald Jones, or maybe another free agent addition not currently on the roster.

DaRon Bland vs. Jourdan Lewis

Unless DaRon Bland hits a seriously unfortunate sophomore slump in Year 2 with the Dallas Cowboys, he should be the favorite to start as their slot cornerback in 2023. His five-interception season as a rookie all but secures him that starting gig, however, we can’t exactly rule out Jourdan Lewis reclaiming that job as of yet. He held off the rookie last year until an unfortunate foot injury cost him the rest of the season and could reclaim that spot once again now that he’s 100% healthy. It’ll be interesting to see how this position battle plays out the remainder of the offseason.

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