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Cowboys roster: The locks, the probables and the possibles currently on the team

When the Cowboys go to Oxnard for training camp in a little over a month, these names will likely form the 53-man roster for the season.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Dallas Cowboys
It isn’t always the starters that are easy locks to find.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys have 88 players on their roster, with two spots being held open until they get closer to training camp for flexibility. From those, and any free agents they might add in the inevitable churn of camp, they will draw their 53-man regular season roster. Obviously, not all names are equal. Every year, it is not hard to identify most of the players that will make the team. Camp battles are fun, but there are not many truly open spots to fight over.

While we are soon going to be seeing lots of roster projections as we get down to the final weeks of the offseason, there are some spots at the bottom of the roster that are still to be determined. But the pool of real candidates is a smaller number. Below is a little exercise in identifying the players that are going to be relevant. Unfortunately for the ones at the bottom of the roster, camp is going to be at best a chance to audition for a practice squad slot somewhere. This strictly deals with the names that have a good chance of making the team if they are healthy.

We discussed this idea on the latest episode of Ryled Up on the Blogging The Boys podcast network. Make sure to subscribe to our network so you do not miss any of our shows! Apple devices can subscribe here and Spotify users can subscribe here.

It is broken into three categories. The first are the locks, the starters and key role players that have no real worries. Then there are the probables, players who have a good chance of making the roster, but face some risk of getting beaten out. The challengers they face are the possibles, ones who need to prove something in camp to fight their way onto the roster.

Here are the players, broken down by position.


Locks: Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush, Will Grier

That’s it for the position that is easiest to call. The new emergency QB rule makes it a no-brainer to carry three into the season, and with only three on the roster, they all make the cut. The team will add someone to give them a fourth arm to share the load in camp practices, but it is unlikely that addition will really challenge the backups, who have experience with the team and what is expected to be a lot of carryover in the offense. While the battle to see who is QB2 between Rush and Grier might be closer than many expect, all of them will be suited up for games.

Running backs

Lock: Tony Pollard

Probable: Deuce Vaughn

Possibles: Everybody else

Pollard is the new RB1. Vaughn will have to have a very bad preseason to not make the team. While his story in coming to play for the organization where his father works is a great one, it should not affect the roster decision. But this is the real world, and in Dallas, that will carry some weight. As for RB3 and maybe RB4, those are wide open. Malik Davis might have a leg up at this point, but Ronald Jones, Rico Dowdle, and UDFA Hunter Luepke all have a shot at making the team. Camp and preseason games will determine who makes it through.

Wide receiver

Locks: CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks, Michael Gallup

Probables: Kavontae Turpin, Jalen Tolbert, Simi Fehoko

We know the starters for the most commonly deployed 11 personnel package. Turpin is close to a lock unless someone, like perhaps Vaughn, should beat him out for the punt return job, which seems highly unlikely. Both Tolbert and Fehoko have that experience factor.

The rest of the wide receivers on the roster are all long shots to supplant any of those last three. There will be some that flash in practice or in preseason games, but barring injury, we will see the team roll with the names listed above, assuming they carry six. If they only go with five WRs to go deeper at another position, Tolbert and Fehoko will be the ones likely battling it out.

Tight end

Locks: Luke Schoonmaker, Jake Ferguson, Peyton Hendershot

Probable: Sean McKeon

Again, the top three seem pretty self-evident. McKeon’s chances hinge on the numbers. They will probably want a fourth for depth, but he will likely be inactive on game day unless one of the top three is unable to go. However, he might also earn a spot with special teams contributions and get on the field that way.

Offensive tackle

Locks: Tyron Smith, Terence Steele

Possible: Matt Waletzko

This looks a bit risky given the health concerns for both Smith and Steele, but this is complicated by the expectation that Tyler Smith will be starting at left guard while also serving as the primary backup for LT. The staff seems high on Waletzko, and he might be more a probable than just possible. However, this is one place where one of the other names on the roster might unexpectedly enter into the conversation. It is something worth watching in practices.

Interior offensive line

Locks: Zack Martin, Tyler Biadasz, Tyler Smith

Probables: Matt Farniok, Asim Richards

Possible: Chuma Edoga

The starters are known. With the way Tyler Smith has a dual role, the team may go deep in this group. Richards’ draft position makes him pretty likely, and Farniok looks like the primary backup at center while still being able to play guard. Edoga should be a factor, possibly threatening Farniok’s job, but he is another where the numbers at the end may determine his fate.

EDGE rushers

Locks: Micah Parsons, DeMarcus Lawrence, Sam Williams

Probables: Dorance Armstrong, Viliami Fehoko

Possible: Dante Fowler

This is one of the strongest position groups on the roster. The first three are obvious, and Armstrong was a very close call between being a lock or not. Fehoko has his draft position helping him. Fowler may need the team to go deep at the position to remain on the roster. If they just carry five, he is likely the odd man out, and that is just more proof how good this bunch is.

Interior defensive line

Locks: Osa Odighizuwa, Mazi Smith

Probables: Johnathan Hankins, Chauncey Golston

Possible: Neville Gallimore

In the article linked above, the defensive line was considered as a whole, and this group justifies things. The one question is whether the team will carry two NT type players. Given how Hankins affected the defense last year, they likely will. Golston should have a slight edge over Gallimore, and once again it should come down to how deep they go here for Gallimore to make the team.


Locks: Leighton Vander Esch, Damone Clark, DeMarvion Overshown

Probables: Jabril Cox, Devin Harper

Possible: Malik Jefferson

With the way Dan Quinn runs the defense, Jayron Kearse is something of a de facto linebacker on many plays which allows them to go light here, at least as far as filling the role when the defense is on the field. The top three are easy to figure out. For Cox, Harper, and Jefferson, their chances are based on how linebacker is a key resource for special teams. All three could make the team to give John Fassel the tools he needs.


Locks: Trevon Diggs, Stephon Gilmore, DaRon Bland, Jourdan Lewis

Probable: CJ Goodwin

Possibles: Nahshon Wright, Kelvin Joseph

This is another deep group on what looks to be a really loaded defense. They have four starter level corners. Goodwin is really a special teams asset and is another borderline lock. For Wright and Joseph, it is a numbers game, and they both look to be the contenders if the team carries six. Again, special team considerations factor in.


Locks: Jayron Kearse, Donovan Wilson, Malik Hooker

Probable: Israel Mukuamu

Possibles: The rest

One of the decisions in building the roster is how to allocate slots in the secondary. Position designations are somewhat fluid under Quinn. The team could go very heavy at corner and light at safety, which is why Mukuamu lands as a probable. If the decision is to go with a larger safety group, it is like running back, with the competition to become the fifth wide open. But most likely they will carry just four.


Locks: Bryan Anger, Trent Sieg

Possible: Tristan Vizcaino

Punter and long snapper are covered. Vizcaino is almost certainly going to be watching a stream of kickers come in for tryouts and at least one will be in a camp battle with him to handle kicking duties. Vizcaino has a very limited résumé, and the team is not really comfortable with rolling into the season with him. But he has the opportunity to claim the job with a strong performance in camp.

That is 32 players who are locks to make the team, 15 that are more than likely to, and 16 in all that have a realistic shot to grab a spot. It adds up to 63 names that will be fighting for 53 roster spots. That is still a good number of legitimate camp battles.

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