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Dallas Cowboys mailbag: Questions on the overall roster and which player will improve the most

People have questions about the Cowboys, and we strive to provide the answers.

NFL: JAN 08 Cowboys at Commanders Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Every week, we will be taking questions on Twitter and Facebook about Dallas Cowboys players and other questions surrounding the team. So let’s get right into it.

“Is the Cowboys roster better than last year?”

(Submitted by @dennishair via Twitter)

Brandon: Looking at the positions of need, the Cowboys did a great job addressing them in the offseason. Acquiring Brandin Cooks and Stephon Gilmore for pennies on the dollar were genius moves by the front office. The goal for Dallas is to re-sign their own players and bringing back Leighton Vander Esch and Donovan Wilson will make them better, hoping they continue to ascend with their play on the field. Given that the Cowboys don’t have a starting left guard and kicker before figuring out those positions in training camp, I’d say those are small problems compared to 2022. Overall, this team is better, and the deals for Cooks and Gilmore show ownership believes it as well.

Mike: This time last year I said that the Cowboys roster wasn’t as good as the previous season and the 2022 season was almost a mini-roster reset year for them. Well look at how that worked out. Last year’s roster was definitely a rework after losing a few important key features to it, but they get to the divisional round despite also having some major injuries early and mid-season. This year that same roster is a little more experienced, a little more wiser and a lot more athletic. Now add a huge run-stopping defensive tackle which was a massive weakness on this defense, while also adding an elite veteran cornerback and speed wide receiver which were also missing from last year’s roster, yes this roster is upgraded to last year. Let’s also not forget how the coaching staff is a better group than last year which directly affects the roster, that’s a win-win from last seasons team.

“Are we back to the revolving door policy on kickers?”

(Submitted by Keith Hopkins via Facebook)

Brandon: The closer we get to training camp, the more likely a veteran kicker will be on the roster by July. In a recent interview with John Fassel, he talked about not having an urgency to bring someone in now because he wants his kicker to be fresh heading into camp. Comments like that lead me to believe they have a few veterans in mind that want to skip workouts and enjoy time with their families this summer before they absolutely need to be there. If the Cowboys can turn Brett Maher into a Pro Bowl-caliber player overnight, this way of handling the position might work.

Mike: This has been in the Cowboys headlines this week. But last week we answered a question on this and I feel it returns to lasts year’s style of finding a kicker which was wait till the last minute and hope something sticks. Going off comments made by the coaching staff this week that philosophy seems more and more true.

“Which player do you think makes the jump this year?”

(Submitted by Rob Robin via Facebook)

Brandon: In a curveball answer, I hope Tyron Smith takes a leap this season. Yes, he is the most-tenured player on the roster, but the last time he played through an entire season was in 2015. If he is going to be the Cowboys’ starting left tackle, kicking Tyler Smith to left guard, he needs to play almost 90 percent of the games in 2023 for Dallas to do great things on offense. A healthy Tyron Smith could return to being a top-three offensive tackle in the NFL and would go a long way in the run game and protecting Dak Prescott. It’s tough to imagine a 13-year vet taking a leap, but he definitely needs to.

Mike: Good question and love these ones. For me, the player taking a big jump this year is going to be defensive end Sam Williams. He was already a productive pass rusher at Ole Miss and when he got his chances for Dallas last year he took the bull by the horns. He only played 306 snaps, and for context Jourdan Lewis had more and played less than half a season. Last season on a low snap count he had 10 tackles for loss (4th-most for Dallas), 22 pressures (6th-most) and four sacks (6th-most). The players above him in those statistics all had double the amount of snaps of Williams, and also let’s not forget he can throw running backs like they an empty suitcase. His time playing with Demarcus Lawrence and learning from him, as well more time with the coaches and working on his technique, will help put him in the lead for more snaps on the opposite side to Lawrence and then explode with those extra chances. The idea of having a more experienced Sam Williams with Lawrence and Parsons all lining up with Osa and rookie Mazi Smith sounds very mouth-watering.

“What numbers were assigned to the UDFA’s?”

(Submitted by @dallasware94 via Twitter)

Mike: WR Jose Barbon- #14, WR David Durden- #85, WR Jalen Cropper- #16, OG T.J Bass- #66, TE Princeton Fant- #48, DE Tyrus Wheat- #91, LB Isaiah Land- #53, CB Myles Brooks- #39, CB D’Angelo Mandell- #38.

Poll Of The Week: Finally on the Mailbag we asked you which position group on offense is the strongest for the Cowboys this year. Here are the results and our take on the poll.

Brandon: I wonder if the people who selected wide receiver/tight end are more confident in the wideouts because of Brandin Cooks getting in the mix or in Peyton Hendershot and Jake Ferguson with more experience. Prescott should be number one out of all the positions listed, but with his recent injury history, there’s an argument to be made about him not being able to play 17 games. The 13 percent for the running back group is not a reflection on Tony Pollard, who almost everyone is confident in getting back to Pro Bowl level, but it says more about the depth behind him and an unknown of who will be the No. 2 to complement him.

Mike: Every now and then a poll never ends the way you expect. A lot of people loving the wide receiver corp this year, and rightly so with the additions in the offseason and draft period. I feel there will be an outsider from the UDFA class that will surprise (watch for David Durden or Jalen Moreno-Cropper). But the surprise for me is both how low down people feel about the runningback position, perhaps the loss of Zeke is still breaking our hearts, but also a pleasant surprise was to see the quarterback position be so high. I’m not ready to give up Dak yet either, he’s still a solid QB that has proven to win games both impressively and ugly, which is something we can say about all the NFL signal-callers. Sure people will point to the fact he’s not won a Super Bowl. But all I’m saying is how many NFC quarterbacks have taken home the Lombardi?

Be sure to check @kenfigkowboy and @brandoniswrite on Twitter and also Facebook for the weekly post, asking you for your questions for the weekly mailbag. Check for the Poll of The Week on Twitter. Many thanks to everyone that sends in your questions and votes.

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