It’s been a few weeks since our last roster projection, that was before the start of training camp. A lot has happened since then, and it’s led to some changes in this updated prediction of who makes the Dallas Cowboys’ 53-man roster in 2023.
The previous projection was based on what we knew at the time; scouting reports on rookies, limited information from the spring practices, and the depth chart from the previous season. Now we’re seeing the fruits of offseason work and the new realities of the present.
Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush, Will Grier
While Cooper Rush has done nothing to lose his spot as the backup, Will Grier has been showing why he deserves to stick around. Mike McCarthy’s teams in Green Bay typically had three QBs on them and Grier may have too much pedigree (former third-round pick) and solid preseason tape to make it to the practice squad. The numbers game could still prompt Dallas to only keep two quarterbacks, but it’s a worthwhile exercise to see how they would manage the rest of the roster with three.
Running Back (4)
Tony Pollard, Rico Dowdle, Deuce Vaughn
Hunter Luepke (FB)
Between a groin injury keeping him from practicing and a two-game PED suspension now to start the year, Ronald Jones has had an awful start to his Cowboys run. Here as veteran insurance, he now seems to have fallen behind Rico Dowdle and Malik Davis as contenders for the RB depth chart.
Right now Dowdle is the pick because of his superior size and power to Davis, which will be needed in this group. He also is better in pass protection and special teams, only increasing his roster value.
Hunter Luepke hangs on for now but could easily be replaced by a fourth tight end. He will have to show consistent ability as a lead blocker, which wasn’t his strength in college, or else Dallas could easily go with Sean McKeon to fill that role.
Wide Receiver (6)
CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks, Michael Gallup
Jalen Tolbert, Jalen Brooks, KaVontae Turpin
Simi Fehoko is out and seventh-round rookie Jalen Brooks, one of the camp standouts, is in. With Turpin also stepping up his offensive game in Oxnard this year, this depth chart feels pretty solid barring any injuries or major swings in performance. KaVontae Turpin was probably making the team anyway for his return work but if he can contribute WR and other offensive snaps as well, he’s a lock.
Tight End (3)
Jake Ferguson, Peyton Hendershot, Luke Schoonmaker
These three are guaranteed to make it, leaving the question of whether or not McKeon or John Stephens could jump on as a fourth. While Stephens has been standing out as a receiver, how much will he reasonably see the field with who’s ahead of him? McKeon would have the better shot at that point for blocking and special teams work.
Offensive Line (9)
Tyron Smith, Tyler Smith, Zack Martin
Tyler Biadasz, Terence Steele, Brock Hoffman
Josh Ball, Asim Richards, Matt Waletzko
Josh Ball just keeps hanging around and was actually one of the better performers in an otherwise grizzly showing from Dallas’ offensive linemen last Saturday. His ability to play either guard or tackle is valuable, especially now that veteran Chuma Edoga is out with a knee injury. While Edoga could come back before long, Ball may at least stick around for the early part of the season.
Brock Hoffman was added over Matt Farniok. The second-year prospect has taken over as the primary backup at center and that's almost a guaranteed roster spot unless someone unseats him. Farniok could still make it for extra G/C depth but seems to be falling behind in the race.
Defensive Line (9)
DeMarcus Lawrence, Mazi Smith, Osa Odighizuwa
Sam Williams, Chauncey Golston, Dorance Armstrong
Dante Fowler, Johnathan Hankins, Villami Fehoko
With nine guys listed here and Micah Parsons expected to get plenty of pass-rushing snaps, this seems like enough for Dan Quinn’s rotation. We had Neville Gallimore on the original projection but it just seems like more of a luxury than a necessity to keep him now. The Cowboys have too many other needs elsewhere than to hang on to Gallimore, especially with about $1.2 million in cap savings with his release.
Micah Parsons, Leighton Vander Esch, Damone Clark
Jabril Cox. DeMarvion Overshown, Devin Harper
This group doesn’t feel like it’s changing unless Dallas prefers Markquese Bell as a hybrid LB/S over Harper. But with Parsons playing a lot of DE and Overshown on the leaner side, the Cowboys probably want at least one more traditional LB for depth and special teams.
Defensive Backs (10)
Trevon Diggs, Stephon Gilmore, DaRon Bland
Jayron Kearse, Malik Hooker, Donovan Wilson
Israel Mukuamu, Eric Scott, Juanyeh Thomas
I’ll believe that Goodwin gets cut when I see it. He keeps getting re-signed for a reason and his value to John Fassel’s special teams is more than pedestrians realize.
One name missing here is Jourdan Lewis, but only because he’ll probably start the year on the PUP list. This will allow the Cowboys to work the veteran back slowly and hang on to valuable young prospects like Mukuamu, Scott, and Thomas through final cuts.
Special Teams (3)
Brandon Aubrey (K), Bryan Anger (P), Trent Sieg (LS)
Another kicker hasn’t been added as of this writing, so for now it’s still Aubrey’s job. His missed extra point against Jacksonville was scary but the Cowboys appear to be sticking with him for now. There’s still time for that to change.