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4 different Cowboys 53-man roster projections help pinpoint contested roster spots

A look at roster projections for the Cowboys 53-man roster point to some interesting battles, like the cornerback position among others.

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Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images

Not to be a killjoy here, but if the past 15 years or so that I’ve been intensely following the Dallas Cowboys training camp have taught me anything, it’s that rosters are largely set before the offseason program even begins, and most of the extra players brought in are little more than sparring and training partners for the roster locks.

That is the stark reality of NFL life.

Injuries and standout performances in camp provide the opportunity for maybe a handful of players each year to work their way onto the roster, but that’s pretty much it.

To get a better feeling for what the contested spots could be on the 2023 Cowboys roster, I took a look at four separate roster projections. One from from our old friend David Helman, now fighting the good fight against LeSean McCoy at Fox Sports, one from the always reliable Todd Archer at ESPN, and one from our very own Dan Rogers, all published this week. Additionally, I’ve added Jon Machota of The Athletic, who published his in early May.

These four projections should give us a good idea of where public sentiment currently stands regarding the 2023 Cowboys roster. I’ve combined all four projections in the tables below. The table highlights (in yellow) the spots that do not yet appear to be locked down. Look closely, and you’ll see there aren’t many of those spots left, at least if these projections are anything to go by.

Quarterbacks Prescott Prescott Prescott Prescott
Rush Rush Rush Rush
Pollard Pollard Pollard Pollard
Jones Jones Jones Jones
Davis Davis Davis Davis
Vaughn Vaughn Vaughn Vaughn
Lamb Lamb Lamb Lamb
Cooks Cooks Cooks Cooks
Gallup Gallup Gallup Gallup
Tolbert Tolbert Tolbert Tolbert
S. Fehoko S. Fehoko S. Fehoko
Turpin Turpin Turpin
Ferguson Ferguson Ferguson Ferguson
Shoonmaker Shoonmaker Shoonmaker Shoonmaker
Hendershot Hendershot Hendershot Hendershot
McKeon McKeon
Tyr. Smith Tyr. Smith Tyr. Smith Tyr. Smith
Tyl. Smith Tyl. Smith Tyl. Smith Tyl. Smith
Biadasz Biadasz Biadasz Biadasz
Martin Martin Martin Martin
Steele Steele Steele Steele
Edoga Edoga Edoga Edoga
Richards Richards Richards Richards
Waletzko Waletzko Waletzko Waletzko
Farniok Farniok Farniok Farniok
Ball Ball

Not too many surprises for the offense, and there really only seem to be four spots up for grabs.

The Cowboys will carry five or six wide receivers, and the final two spots look like they could go to any of these three players: Jalen Tolbert, Simi Fehoko, and Kavontae Turpin.

At tight end, the question is whether the Cowboys go long with four players. If so, Sean McKeon could grab that final spot; if not, he’s out.

And Josh Ball could be the odd man out on the offensive line. If they keep 10 linemen he could be in.

On defense and special teams, the situation is a little less obvious.

Lawrence Lawrence Lawrence Lawrence
Armstrong Armstrong Armstrong Armstrong
Williams Williams Williams Williams
Fowler Fowler Fowler Fowler
Odighizuwa Odighizuwa Odighizuwa Odighizuwa
M. Smith M. Smith M. Smith M. Smith
Hankins Hankins Hankins Hankins
Golston Golston Golston Golston
V. Fehoko V. Fehoko V. Fehoko V. Fehoko
Linebackers Parsons Parsons Parsons Parsons
Vander Esch Vander Esch Vander Esch Vander Esch
Clark Clark Clark Clark
Overshown Overshown Overshown Overshown
Cox Cox Cox Cox
Harper Harper Harper
Conerbacks Diggs Diggs Diggs Diggs
Gilmore Gilmore Gilmore Gilmore
Bland Bland Bland Bland
Lewis Lewis Lewis
Scott Scott Scott
Joseph Joseph Joseph
Wright Wright
Safeties Kearse Kearse Kearse Kearse
D. Wilson D. Wilson D. Wilson D. Wilson
Hooker Hooker Hooker Hooker
Mukuamu Mukuamu Mukuamu Mukuamu
Specialists Sieg (LS) Sieg (LS) Sieg (LS) Sieg (LS)
Anger (P) Anger (P) Anger (P) Anger (P)
Aubrey (K) Aubrey (K) Aubrey (K) Vizcaino (K)
CJ Goodwin CJ Goodwin CJ Goodwin

The front seven (DE, DT, LB) look to be pretty much settled, with DT Neville Gallimore and LB Devin Harper possibly not making the 53. Gallimore at least could fetch something in a trade, so that’s one thing to keep an eye on.

Harper could make the team from a simple numbers standpoint: Micah Parsons is listed here as a LB (the team site still lists him a such), but it could be argued that he is in fact a DE, which would leave the team with just five linebackers. Take out Harper and they’d be down to just four, and that seems too low. The Cowboy might also be looking to bring in a veteran for that fifth spot, so we’ll see how that goes.

The Battle Royale at camp this year will be at cornerback. Going by the projections above, only Trevon Diggs, Stephon Gilmore, and DaRon Bland are roster locks. After the top three, Jourdan Lewis, Eric Scott, Kelvin Joseph, and Nahshon Wright will battle for up to three remaining spots. Complicating matters is that special teams ace C.J. Goodwin is also a cornerback and might compete for a roster spot on special teams and defense. Also, keep in mind that John Machota’s projection was published in early May, and that was before Eric Scott turned heads in OTAs. If Machota were to update his projection, odds are Scott would be in and somebody else would be out.

In any case, cornerback is probably the only position (outside of kicker) where we’ll see real competition in camp, most other positions are just about filling out the depth chart.

Much has been written about the kicker position. Somebody will be the kicker for the Cowboys in 2023, it’s anybody’s guess who that will be.

As far as projections go, these four have probably summarized the general sentiment about the roster pretty well at this point of the season.

Suspensions (knock on wood), trades, injuries (knock on wood three times), and other things of that nature (knock on wood) tend to disrupt these projections. But that’s also where depth guys then get to step up and seize their opportunity.

What’s your take on the combined projections above, and which of your pet cats did the four projections slight?

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