There are three certainties in life. Death, taxes, and an undrafted free agent making the roster of the Dallas Cowboys.
It’s a common occurrence across the league and not exclusive to this team as each year some undrafted player shows up in camp and dazzles the coaching staff enough to earn a spot on the 53-man roster. Peyton Hendershot, Terence Steele, and Cooper Rush are recent examples of UDFA who played their way onto the roster.
This year’s class should be no exception. The Cowboys signed several intriguing players. In fact, if you went off of value from consensus rankings, the UDFA haul the team got was rather snazzy as they selected several “draftable” players, some of which even had a fourth-round grade. While they have a nice group to work with, it’s still a daunting task to try to figure out which of these players are most likely to make the team, but that is what we are doing today.
Here is a complete list of the Cowboys' new undrafted free agent class.
2023 undrafted free agents
|FB||Hunter Luepke||North Dakota State|
|WR||Jalen Moreno-Cropper||Fresno State|
|WR||David Durden||West Florida|
|WR||John Stephens Jr.||Louisiana|
|OT||Earl Bostick Jr.||Kansas|
|OLB||Tyrus Wheat||Mississippi State|
|OLB||Isaiah Land||Florida A&M|
|CB||Mile Brooks||LA Tech|
Many of these players are going to be nothing more than development projects that don’t actually amount to anything in terms of an NFL career. Where they go in year one will have a lot to do with their mental processing, how well they can handle their assignments, and in some cases whether or not they can play special teams. Another factor that can come into play is the overall depth at their respective positions. For example, some of the edge rushers might find it harder to make this roster than a player at a position where the Cowboys are a little lean.
With all that in mind, who stands the best chance to earn a roster spot? Before we make our selection, let’s visit a couple of honorable mentions.
LB Isaiah Land
At first glance, the Florida A&M outside linebacker is a lightweight edge rusher. His bread and butter in college was attacking the quarterback, demonstrated by his 26.5 sacks over his last two seasons. He has the length of an NFL edge, but at just 236 pounds, he’s considerably undersized. Land is an athletic mover who has the play speed and length to run down ball carriers. With a lot of vacancies at the linebacker position, a successful transition to off-ball linebacker/occasional blitzer could put him right in the mix with Jabril Cox and Devin Harper to round out the linebacker group.
FB Hunter Luepke
It’s easy to be excited about a fullback who offers a little athleticism. We were all impressed by Nick Ralston a couple of years ago when we saw videos of him pulling a semi-truck, but remember, he only ended up with one offensive rep his entire pro career. Luepke is a very dynamic player as he can block, power rush, and contribute in the passing game as a receiver. The Cowboys haven’t employed a fullback in recent years, but if the rookie impresses in camp, he has a shot to change their approach.
Okay, and now for our choice as the most likely UDFA to earn a roster spot this season...
OG T.J. Bass
There are a handful of reasons that Bass has a nice shot at making this team. While he possesses some physical deficiencies as a tackle (like length and slow reaction) that caused him to go undrafted, he has several positive traits for a position switch to guard. He has a wide frame and plays strong. Bass’ hands are powerful and he uses them to control defenders. And what will help him early is his mental processing and solid foundation of fundamentals. He shows good awareness and understanding of combo blocks. His hand fighting, grip strength, and hip movement are all NFL-ready. He’s started every game for Oregon over the last three years and he’s played them with a lot of tenacity. While he was primarily a left tackle in college, 13 of his 34 starts did come at guard so finding a home inside is very reasonable.
The Cowboys have a lot of questions when it comes to guard, with the first one being, who is going to be their starting left guard? And while there are a few different options besides Tyler Smith (incumbent reserve Matt Farniok, rookie Asim Richards, and tackle/guard transition Josh Ball), none of them project as an ideal candidate. With a strong showing in camp and some good early development, Bass could be this year’s UDFA lineman (remember Brandon Knight and Terence Steele) that surprises everyone by making the 53-man roster.