The Cowboys are done with OTAs and their mandatory minicamp, and there won’t be much in terms of organized football happening over the next four weeks or so. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on at The Star in Frisco. The Cowboys coaches are almost certainly busy watching film from the last few practices and reviewing their practice notes from OTAs. And one of the things they are likely doing in the process is slotting their players into some kind of a depth chart; a depth chart they have been building since free agency and the draft, and one that will form the basis of how they start their activities in training camp.
So we’re going to do a similar exercise today and take a look at what the Cowboys’ final 53-man roster could look like based on what we’ve seen so far in OTAs. To do that, we’re going to look at three separate projections. One from Bryan Broaddus of DallasCowboys.com from Monday, another from KD Drummond of CowboysWire from Saturday, and a final one from Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News from today..
I’ve combined all three projections in the table below. The table highlights (in yellow) the spots that do not yet appear to be locked down, and where there will likely still be competition for a roster spot. Look closely and you’ll see that there aren’t many of those spots left, if these three projections are anything to go by.
Note that the order of the names may differ from the order they were originally published in, but the order here makes the three projections more comparable.
These roster projections may feel like they have a certain degree of certainty and finality, but they don’t, not really. It’s still early in the process, and players are bound to rise and fall, and there may yet be some surprise cuts and late additions that nobody saw coming.
Quarterbacks: The Cowboys may still choose to bring in a veteran at some point, but right now they are pretty comfortable having Moore as the primary backup and perhaps stashing a developmental guy on the practice squad.
Running backs: It’s looking increasingly like Rod Smith has the upper hand in the roster battle for the final spot. Look for Morris to get traded at some point.
Tight ends: All three projections have the same four guys at tight end.
Wide receivers: The top five appear to be locks. Is there a spot for a sixth guy? Noah Brown, Lucky Whitehead, and Andy Jones want to know.
Offensive line: Will they go short and only keep eight offensive linemen, or will they add a little extra insurance with a ninth guy? Byron Bell could be that ninth guy, but if they stick with eight, they’ll be looking for versatility for their three non-starters, which is why a guard like Jonathan Cooper has been taking a lot of snaps at center.
Defensive Line: One thing that’s not clear yet is whether Tyrone Crawford will play inside or outside (or both). Everything else appears pretty cut-and-dried, with Joey Ivie a candidate for the 10th spot, which he might have to vacate once David Irving comes back.
Linebacker: Broaddus and Machota pretty much agree here, while Drummond gets a little more creative with the linebackers and suggests two surprise releases. In any case, John Lotulelei made a positive impression over the last few weeks and could be a late addition to the roster.
Secondary: Pending the status of Nolan Carroll and his possible suspension, all three projections agree on the same 10 players making the roster. Robert Blanton looks like an option if the Cowboys go deep here.
If the consensus here holds true, six of the nine draft picks make the roster. Joey Ivie looks like he has good chances too, while Noah Brown and Jordan Carrell will have to up their game in training camp or they may be headed for the practice squad.
Of course, all of that can change once helmets come on and the Cowboys start lining up against real opponents. For now though, these projections provide an interesting glimpse into where the roster could stand today.