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Cowboys 53-man roster projection before the 1st training camp practice

The Cowboys are close to their first training camp practice of 2023, so we take a moment for a 53-man roster projection.

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

As the Dallas Cowboys begin their 2023 training camp, a wide variety of job security exists throughout the roster. Some roles are already well-defined and other guys are just hoping to make the team. Based on what we know today, here’s a penciled-in roster for the upcoming season.

Consider this a foundation with plenty of room for change in the coming weeks. We’ll be coming back to this after preseason games with updates due to performances, practice reports, and injury news that could alter perceptions.

Quarterback (2)

Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush

Dallas goes with just two passers on the official roster this year. It’s unlikely Will Grier ousts Rush from the backup job and he’s a guy they could probably leave on the practice squad without much fear of poaching. With injury concerns and a wealth of developmental prospects at other positions, saving a spot here with just two quarterbacks makes more sense than protecting a 28-year-old third QB.

Running Back (4)

Tony Pollard, Ronald Jones, Deuce Vaughn
Hunter Luepke (FB)

Vaughn feels like a virtual lock at this point. The big question comes down to the veteran Jones versus Malik Davis and Rico Dowdle for a backup role. They signed Jones for a reason and it’s his job to lose, but he’s in for a big fight with the younger prospects.

Luekpe is a wild card for sure but Dallas has been trying to find a fullback almost every year. As long as he performs, and especially given his versatility as an offensive option both in RB and TE roles, Luepke has an excellent opportunity.

Wide Receiver (6)

CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks, Michael Gallup
Jalen Tolbert, Simi Fehoko, KaVontae Turpin

Tolbert’s had a lot of positive buzz so far this offseason, but he also had that going into last year’s camp. It would take a disastrous month for him to not make the team, though. Expect Fehoko to blossom in his third season, especially with the shift to more West Coast offense principles that he’s familiar with.

Turpin is the real x-factor here. Despite being the USFL MVP in 2022 for his offensive work, Turpin never amounted to more than a return specialist last season with Dallas. If the Cowboys can find quality return options in players with more value on offense or defense, Turpin might not make it. He’ll have to prove he’s got more to his game or is just too special to part with as a return man.

Tight End (3)

Luke Schoonmaker, Jake Ferguson, Peyton Hendershot

The only big questions at TE are who starts between Schoonmaker and Ferguson and whether or not they keep a fourth one. Your top three feel pretty certain. That potential fourth spot, perhaps to stick with Sean McKeon, would probably come from not keeping Luepke at fullback.

Offensive Line (9)

Tyron Smith, Tyler Smith, Zack Martin
Tyler Biadasz, Terence Steele, Matt Farniok
Chuma Edoga, Asim Richards, Matt Waletzko

It will take a few weeks before we can say exactly what positions some of these guys will play, and the truth is that many of them have enough versatility to make it a moot point. The Cowboys have loaded up on guys with position flex and they’ll probably need it with Tyron Smith’s injury odds.

The first six names there feel certain. Five are locks and Farniok’s ability to play center gives him an easy road to the roster. The last three prospects have more to prove but would seem to be the frontrunners currently based on experience and draft investment.

Defensive Line (10)

DeMarcus Lawrence, Mazi Smith, Osa Odighizuwa
Sam Williams, Chauncey Golston, Dorance Armstrong
Dante Fowler, Johnathan Hankins, Villami Fehoko,
Neville Gallimore

There are several moving parts here potentially. Golston may be playing more DT reps this year and the rookie Fehoko is also being discussed for versatile deployment. This feels like the best mix of pass-rushing options and interior support with plenty of flexibility for rotating players throughout the year.

Linebacker (6)

Micah Parsons, Leighton Vander Esch, Damone Clark
Jabril Cox. DeMarvion Overshown, Devin Harper

We’re keeping Parsons at LB as long as he’s still listed that way on the team’s official website. This position is pretty easy to project; that last sport is the only real question mark. Harper is a fairly blind pick over other prospects, deferring to him being a sixth-round pick last year. But with how much Dallas uses safeties in hybrid LB roles, they may not even need to keep a sixth guy.

Defensive Backs (10)

Trevon Diggs, Stephon Gilmore, DaRon Bland
Jayron Kearse, Malik Hooker, Donovan Wilson
Jourdan Lewis, Israel Mukuamu, Eric Scott
C.J. Goodwin

We bid adieu to failed 2021 draft picks Kelvin Joseph and Nahshon Wright. With Mukuamu potentially switching to CB and Eric Scott already generating a lot of buzz, they would seem to have leapfrogged their more highly-drafted competition.

Goodwin is here for now as the veteran special teams ace but could be supplanted. This is how Joseph might actually save his job in 2023, continuing to build on his special teams work while also providing more value as a backup at corner.

Special Teams (3)

Brandon Aubrey (K), Bryan Anger (P), Trent Sieg (LS)

With Anger and Sieg currently the only guys on the roster at their positions, it’s just a matter of who wins between Aubrey and Tristan Vizcaino at kicker. Aubrey gets the nod for now just given his relative upside; he’s only recently transitioned from soccer to football while Vizcaino has been trying to catch on in the NFL since 2018.

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