How could the roster look if the Cowboys’ season started today?
The Dallas Cowboys are heading north to face off against the San Francisco 49ers for their first preseason game. With 90 players on the roster soon to be cut down to 53, there are plenty of battles going on as players are fighting to make the team. Many spots are locked down, but over the next month the pendulum may swing back and forth as some of these bubble players start revealing whether or not they’ll be wearing the star come September.
Recently, Jon Machota from The Athletic and Patrik Walker from CBS Sports made their 53-man roster projections. I decided to offer up my own and compare to get a sense of how things might look right now.
My 53-man roster...
LOCKS: Dak Prescott
Mike White - Phantom/Walker
Cooper Rush - Machota
All three of us agree that the Cowboys will only keep two quarterbacks, but we can’t agree on which one will win the backup role. Rush has the upper hand right now as he’s performed better in camp to this point, but these next few weeks are huge and could be the time for White to make some noise.
Alfred Morris - Walker
Everyone is in agreement that Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, and Mike Weber will make the team, but Walker has Morris making it as well.
If Zeke isn’t there by Week 1, then keeping Morris makes sense; however, the veteran running back doesn’t have much of a place if Elliott shows up. Morris isn’t a receiving back, doesn’t add any dynamic to the offense, and can’t play special teams. He’s simply a handcuff and that’s it.
Noah Brown - Phantom/Machota
Jon’Vea Johnson - Machota/Walker
Cedrick Wilson - Phantom/Walker
We all agree that the Cowboys are keeping six receivers, but we all have our different guys. Noah Brown isn’t the flashiest receiver, but his blocking and value on special teams makes him more than just a receiver. Jon’Vea Johnson is the blazing new toy many want to add to the passing attack, but can he show enough to earn a spot? Cedrick Wilson gets overlooked, but he’s a versatile receiver and he’s been pretty consistent. His experience could give him the edge over the younger guys.
Everyone is in agreement that these three guys will be the team’s tight ends in 2019. The recent release of Rico Gathers meant nothing as most had him not making the team anyway.
Xavier Su’a-Filo - Machota/Walker
Adam Redmond - Phantom
Offensive line talent is hard to find once the season starts so don’t be surprised if the Cowboys go deep here. All three of us have the Cowboys keeping nine players, with the only difference being between Su’a-Filo and Redmond for the last spot. Machota and Walker seem to align with how the coaching staff feels as Su’a-Filo has been filing in on the first-team with Zack Martin out. But don’t sleep on Adam Redmond. He’s a very solid player and could jump Su’a-Filo before it’s all over.
Connor McGovern has been dealing with a pectoral injury. If he continues to have issues, the team may choose to designate him an ‘IR-designated to return’ candidate and that would free up a roster spot for the first part of the season.
Kerry Hyder - Phantom/Walker
The Cowboys are deep at defensive end, which is great news because all of their top guys are unavailable.
The Cowboys top four defensive ends are unavailable:— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) August 8, 2019
DeMarcus Lawrence PUP
Robert Quinn SUSP
Tyrone Crawford PUP
Randy Gregory SUSP
The next five guys up have a combined 2.5 sacks last year:
Dorance Armstrong 0.5
Taco Charlton 1.0
Kerry Hyder 1.0
Joe Jackson 0
Jalen Jelks 0
We are mostly in agreement, including the addition of rookie Joe Jackson who is having a great camp. Free agent Kerry Hyder is on the bubble, but both Walker and I have him landing a spot on the team. Of course, things could change when Robert Quinn and hopefully Randy Gregory return.
This is a pretty set group. Covington is a name some tend to forget, but he’s having a solid camp. Even though Woods is the incumbent starter at the 1-tech position, don’t be surprised if Covington digs into his playing time.
Once Crawford gets back on the field, he can play either inside or out. He may start out on the edge if the defensive end group is short staffed.
There might be a glimpse of wiggle room here if one of the undrafted free agents can turn enough heads. You never know if a player like Luke Gifford may be able to steal one of the final spots, but all signs point to this group of six making the final roster.
Donovan Olumba - Phantom/Walker
C.J. Goodwin - Machota
Second-year UDFA Donovan Olumba is having a good camp and at this rate, he’s playing his way onto the roster. Machota goes with the veteran C.J. Goodwin, who is a guy that many have forgotten about. However, the team really likes him, and he’s a good special teams player so that could give him the edge come final cuts.
Kavon Frazier - Machota/Walker
Darian Thompson - Machota/Phantom
Donovan Wilson - Phantom/Walker
While we can all agree that Xavier Woods and Jeff Heath will be the starters, we each have a different combination of two players to round out the safeties. Coincidentally, none of us have George Iloka making the team. Despite the original excitement when he was signed, he’s done nothing in camp to keep that excitement going.
Kavon Frazier is such a huge special teams player, but he just seems like too much of a liability at safety. Can they justify keeping a roster spot for him just for his role on special teams? Darian Thompson is the guy no one is talking about, but he might be the best reserve they have should they need a player to step in and play the position. Rookie Donovan Wilson has flashed some good plays, but he’s still developing.
With the way Brett Maher has been kicking lately, I’d be reluctant to call him a lock, but it sure looks like this is the direction the team is headed. The coaching staff continues to express confidence in him, but we’ve heard that song before. Don’t be surprised if the team brings in a free agent like Matt Bryant if Maher continues to have problems.
Bold prediction: The Cowboys bring Kai Forbath in for a tryout at some point this month.
Did we leave any players out? Or are there players on this list that you don’t think lands a final spot? Let us know your thoughts on the Cowboys 53-man roster down in the comments.