The Dallas Cowboys had very little roster turnover from last season. Both offensively and defensively the majority of their starters will be returning in 2023, however, they do have a few starting jobs up for grabs as things stand right now. Minicamps, Organized Team Activities (OTA’s), and training camp will end up sorting all of that out, but in the meantime we are left to speculate as to who fits where.
Fortunately, the Dallas Cowboys have quite a few breakout candidates this year ready to take on a larger role, many of whom could come from their 2022 draft class. With a year of experience under their belt and a full offseason to prepare both mentally and physically, there are several players from from last year’s draft class who are primed to play vital roles entering their sophomore seasons with the Cowboys.
TE Jake Ferguson
With a year of experience under his belt, and some impressive play as a rookie, Jake Ferguson might get the nod over Dallas’ second-round pick Luke Schoonmaker in 2023 to be Dalton Schultz’ replacement as the starting tight end this year. As both an in-line blocker and a receiver in the passing game last year, he showed flashes of his starting potential, and because of that, looks to be a prime candidate to have a breakout season entering Year 2 with the Dallas Cowboys. Of course, he’ll have to beat out Schoonmaker first.
LG/LT Tyler Smith
If not for Tyler Smith last year, the Cowboys season may have been doomed before it even got started. His position flex to play guard or tackle saved them and it’s that versatility that will once again be vital to Dallas’ success in 2003 as well. Like last year, he will probably be expected to start the season at LG and remain there up until the point he may have to kick outside to LT if/when Tyron Smith sustains yet another injury that causes him to miss time. Whatever role he plays this year, it will no doubt be an important one.
LB Damone Clark
Damone Clark has the makings to become a starter-quality linebacker in Dallas entering Year 2 with the Cowboys. As a rookie he ended up starting five games after working his way back from spinal fusion surgery on a herniated disc discovered during the pre-draft process. He was one of the nation’s top LB prospects pre-injury and proved to be a capable starter last year when he was able to get on the field once again. He should be even better in his sophomore year with a full offseason to better prepare both mentally and physically.
CB DaRon Bland
DaRon Bland was arguably the biggest surprise from the Dallas Cowboys 2022 season. After both Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis went down with season-ending injuries, Bland was thrown into the fire and responded in a big way. He ended up playing both on the outside and in the slot, accumulating an eye-popping five interceptions as a rookie. That production won’t go unnoticed and will more than likely make him the favorite to be the Cowboys starting nickel CB in 2023 ahead of last year’s starter, Jourdan Lewis.
DE Sam Williams
Sam Williams didn’t start a single game for the Cowboys last season as a rookie and only played 23.80% of the defensive snaps. Despite that, he was able to accumulate four quarterback sacks in a limited rotational role. While he is still stuck behind starters Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence entering Year 2 with the Cowboys, his playing time could increase after last year’s production. Even if he’s limited to a rotational role once again, it’s still nonetheless a vital one as is what he contributes on special teams as well.