Many analysts across the NFL share the common belief that the Dallas Cowboys have one of the top rosters on paper across the entire league. A front office which managed to bring back several key defensive free agents this offseason, were also able to bring in key contributors through unlikely trades.
Pro Football Focus released their current roster rankings across the NFL, where they slotted the Cowboys as having the sixth-best in the NFL. It should be noted that they listed quarterback play as the team’s biggest weakness on their roster.
Sixth feels like a low ranking when you truly consider how many playmakers the Dallas Cowboys have across the field. Nonetheless, PFF ranked The Philadelphia Eagles (1) and the San Francisco 49ers (2) in the top two spots.
The Cowboys are facing immense pressure to prove that they are the best team across the entire NFC this upcoming season. Like many seasons, this season’s narrative is truly “NFC Championship game or bust.”
If the Cowboys hope to make their first conference championship game in more than two and a half decades, the team may need to look at improving these three position groups. If the Cowboys can address these, they can truly take the next step and surpass the 49ers and Eagles as the team to beat in the NFC conference.
The position group that currently lacks the most talent on the Cowboys is one of the more important positions in the league, a kicker. Currently, the team only has one kicker on their depth chart, Tristan Vizcaino. Vizcaino has limited experience on the field throughout his career, despite playing for four teams during the regular season in his career. He has played one game for the Arizona Cardinals in 2022, two games for the New England Patriots in 2022, six games for the Los Angeles Chargers in 2021, and one game for the 49ers in 2020. While his longest stint with the Chargers started off promising, he missed five extra points in a four-game stretch, ultimately leading to his release.
Fun fact: Cowboys new kicker Tristan Vizcaino has only missed one FG his entire career and that came when he doinked it off the left upright against the Cowboys in Week 2 of 2021. pic.twitter.com/0exLksQ11M— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) May 14, 2023
The Cowboys have to bring in a more reliable option at the kicker position before the season begins. There are several veteran free agents such as Matt Prater and Robbie Gould who would make Cowboys fans feel more comfortable than Vizcaino. This team is too talented to allow poor play from their kicker to lose them games.
While the Cowboys front office did an incredible job at bringing back key free agents this offseason, they were not able to bring back every player. They felt the loss of their former starting left guard, Connor McGovern, when he decided to sign a three-year, $22.3 million contract with the Buffalo Bills in free agency. While this loss hurt the Cowboys depth, it was understandable that the Dallas front office opted to not match the value of Buffalo’s offer.
Many fans thought the Cowboys would spend a high draft pick in the 2023 NFL draft to shore up this position. However, the team decided to invest heavily in the defense. The Cowboys are currently playing a game of musical chairs on their offensive line group, trying to find their consistent option at the left guard position. Some people believe their best option is to slide Tyler Smith inside at guard, having Tyron Smith play at the tackle spot next to him. While this would create the best possible five for the Cowboys in the trenches, it is important to factor in Tyron Smith’s health. He has yet to play a full season with QB Dak Prescott since he was drafted in 2016. That means Tyron Smith has gone seven seasons in a row missing at least one game due to injury.
The Cowboys have an overall talented offensive line room. They have all-pro talent in RG Zack Martin and LT Tyron Smith. They have rising young talent in LT Tyler Smith, C Tyler Biadasz, and RT Terence Steele. However, the team can not afford to allow a mid-season injury to lose them meaningful games. They would be wise to go after a true LG through a free agent signing or a trade, allowing the team to have many options if they endure injuries throughout the year.
Tight end is a position for the Cowboys that isn’t necessarily lacking talent and potential, rather they are lacking true experience on the field. The Cowboys currently head into the season with tight ends Jake Ferguson, Luke Schoonmaker, Peyton Hendershot, and Sean McKeon on their roster.
While they all posses talent as a vertical threat in this Prescott-led Cowboys offense, they have yet to prove that they are legitimate starting tight ends in the NFL. The Cowboys spent their second-round pick of the 2023 NFL draft on Schoonmaker, so it is fair to say they hope that he can be their long-term answer for the position. With that said, Ferguson will not let him take that TE1 position easily, as he is looking to build off a rookie season where he showed a lot of flashes of potential while being behind former Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz.
Listing the tight end room as one of the weaker positions for the Cowboys currently is more of a testament to deep and talented their current roster is, as opposed to criticizing the tight end room. There is a lot of potential and talent in this room, however, it feels like a question mark heading into the season. With Schultz on the field, the tight end room was never a question mark for Dak Prescott and the offense as he was one of his favorite targets.
This is arguably the best roster the Dallas Cowboys have had heading into a season since they won their last Super Bowl in the 1995 season. With that said, every team has weaknesses. The Cowboys would be wise to do all they can to sure up these weaknesses heading into a win-or-bust season.