Early 53 Man Roster Prediction – Pre-Training Camp

We are just a few days removed from the 2017 NFL Draft and the Cowboys will have plenty of new faces around The Star when OTA’s and Training Camp roll around. When you look at all the guys the Cowboys lost in Free- Agency then the players they brought in in Free Agency, all the guys the Cowboys drafted, and all the Undrafted Free-Agents the Cowboys signed after the draft this 53-Man roster will look a lot different than it did this time last year.

  1. QB – Dak Prescott
  2. QB – Kellen Moore
  3. QB – Cooper Rush
  4. RB – Ezekiel Elliott
  5. RB – Darren McFadden
  6. RB – Alfred Morris
  7. WR – Dez Bryant
  8. WR- Terrance Williams
  9. WR – Cole Beasley
  10. WR – Ryan Switzer
  11. WR – Brice Butler
  12. WR – Noah Brown
  13. TE – Jason Witten
  14. TE – Geoff Swaim
  15. TE – Rico Gathers
  16. OT – Tyron Smith
  17. OT – Emmett Cleary
  18. OG – Zack Martin
  19. OG – La’el Collins
  20. OC – Travis Fredrick
  21. OG – Jonathan Cooper
  22. OT – Chaz Green
  23. OT – Byron Bell
  24. FB – Keith Smith
  25. DL – David Irving
  26. DL – Tyrone Crawford
  27. DE – Charles Tapper
  28. DT – Cedric Thornton
  29. DT – Stephen Paea
  30. DT – Maliek Collins
  31. DT – Joey Ivie
  32. DE – Demarcus Lawrence
  33. DE – Taco Charlton
  34. DE – Benson Mayowa
  35. LB – Damien Wilson
  36. LB – Kyle Wilber
  37. LB – Jaylon Smith
  38. LB – Anthony Hitchens
  39. LB – Sean Lee
  40. LB – Mark Nzeocha
  41. S – Byron Jones
  42. S – Xavier Woods
  43. S – Jeff Heath
  44. S – Kavon Fraizer
  45. CB – Anthony Brown
  46. CB – Orlando Scandrick
  47. CB – Chidobe Awuzie
  48. CB – Jourdan Lewis
  49. CB – Nolan Carroll
  50. CB – Marquez White
  51. K – Dan Bailey
  52. P – Chris Jones
  53. LS – L.P. Ladouceur

The Draft Picks:

 Taco Charlton, Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Ryan Switzer, and Xavier Woods will all be walk in contributors right away and I wouldn’t rule out all of the defensive players being starters or battling for a starting position right away. Charlton is likely the starting Right Defensive End, Chidobe Awuzie may be the starting Nickle Corner and play the boundary as well, and Jourdan Lewis will see a large workload right away in the Nickle and on the outside. Xavier Woods has competition but has the potential to let Byron Jones slide into the Strong Safety role and really allow him to play in coverage on tight ends and chase the football closer to the line of scrimmage. Ryan Switzer the Cowboys 4th round pick will unseat  Lucky Whitehead as the teams returner and I can see him having a big role on offense as a rookie.

In addition to these five guys I currently have Joey Ivie, Noah Brown, and Marquez White making the 53 man roster. Ivie is a penetrating defensive tackle that made more plays on film than you would expect from a 7th round pick. Ivie won’t be the most athletic guy in the meeting rooms but has a high  motor and uses his hands and arms to win with swims, swats, and bull rushes. Ivie is actually one of my favorite players the Cowboys drafted after diving in to more of his film. Noah Brown is a high ceiling receiver that really shouldn’t have been available in the 7th round. Brown is a big boy at 6’2 222lbs and style of play is a lot like Dez Bryant. Brown isn’t going to out run you and isn’t the most crisp route runner but he his a red zone nightmare with his physical style of play and blocks extremely well for a receiver. Marquez White will be in a training camp battle for the 6th Cornerback spot on the roster with Leon McFadden. White does not have the ideal size or athletic ability but has very good instincts and has an eye for the football. White is more so of a project than anything but has more than enough redeeming traits and is competitive enough to win that 6th Cornerback job in Training Camp.

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 The Free Agents:

Nolan Carroll, Damontre Moore, Byron Bell and Stephen Paea were the big name Free Agents that were brought in to bolster this Cowboys roster. Nolan Carroll will likely be a day one starting Corner but has a lot of competition behind him that will push him early. Damontre Moore is another guy who was brought in that isn’t guaranteed a roster spot. Moore has a lot of potential and has shown inconsistent flashes throughout his NFL career. If he does happen to put it all together Moore may be in the running for a roster spot, if not I have a hard time seeing him make the roster in a already crowded defensive line room. Byron Bell and Stephen Paea will likely be in Training Camp battles to win a starting spot. Bell will be looking to win the starting Right Tackle spot from Chaz Green and Stephen Paea and Cedric Thornton will slug it out to win the starting One-Technique Defensive Tackle job. None of the Free Agents brought in are game changing type of players but a few of them will win starting roles and a few of them will provide quality depth at their positions.

The Undrafted:

I see one guy who sticks out to me in this Undrafted Free Agent Class that I could see making a case for the 53 Man Roster. That guy is Quarterback Cooper Rush out of Central Michigan. Rush has a lot of developing to do but I could see him being a very good back up Quarterback in the NFL. Rush lacks athletic ability and arm strength to be anything more than a backup in the NFL but does make up for that by being very smart on the field with reading defenses and making good decisions. The Cowboys currently only have Dak Prescott and Kellen Moore as their Quarterbacks on the roster so adding a third guy is something I think they will look to do. Rush is young and has traits in his game that leads me to believe he could win that job.

The Summary:

When you look at the additions the Cowboys made in this off season you notice a completely rebuilt secondary. Time will tell whether they are improved from last years group but in my mind that position upgraded the talent level tremendously between bringing in Nolan Carroll via Free Agency and spending almost half of their draft picks on Defensive Backs. The Defensive Line in my opinion is still average at best. We still have yet to see what Charles Tapper, Damontre Moore, or Taco Charlton can add to the pass rush but I don’t see it being game changing. To me this Defensive Line will continue to be stout against the run and struggle to pressure opposing QB’s. Time will tell, and with Training Camp and OTA’s right around the corner we will find out sooner rather than later. Either way it looks to be very exciting time for Cowboys Nation as the youth movement has officially taken over.

Got a Lot to Say From RVA – Follow me on Twitter- @connorx147

Dolphins vs Cowboys MePlay

I know the title is a little weird but let me explain. I can only call a game through my view hence not a replay, a meplay. (Note to ed. Please go copyright that for me)

Ed Note: We take a moments respite here while I make a quick dash to DC – trade mark time.

There has been a frenzy in the Cowboys training camp, let me correct myself, since the draft. Romo and Dez are healthy, the drafting of Ezekiel Elliott, the forever lingering backup QB dilemma, the greatest o-line ever and so on and so on. The final week of training camp Dez and Claiborne get in a little tiff and come out the following day wearing each others jerseys. (Insert any CLEAN smart remark) Dak Prescott started off shaky but rode into Los Angeles like the Old Spice guy.

The offense is finally healthy and should be able to capture a top five NFL ranking and that’s even with the uncertainty of Elliott’s play. We can all hope he will run for at least 1,400 yards this season but for every Emmitt Smith there is a Blair Thomas. I’m not comparing but explaining that there’s no such thing as a sure thing in the NFL. The good thing for the Cowboys is that they protected themselves with the free-agent signing of Alfred Morris.

Morris has shown why he is a perfect fit for this offense by bringing a patience to the running game that Darren McFadden struggled with. I’m not one of those writers that feel comfortable enough to question an athletes skills, especially since I timed myself on the forty-yard dash recently and let’s just say that most 300 lb offensive-lineman would beat my time with ease.

Ed note2: It’s on! Finally! Someone I can take in the 40! … no sandbagging !

Morris ran for 85 yards on 13 carries and had no notable mistakes in pass protection. I will have a hard time understanding why Morris is not the starter in New York in September. He stayed healthy during training camp and showed improvement from his past by being able to pick up the blitz and be a suitable receiver out of the backfield. If Garrett is serious about players earning their playing time on the field then Morris should be the starter and let Elliott’s play earn him more playing time. What’s that old saying “You can’t earn playing time with the trainers”, well Elliott would have to earn his carries going forward and if I was Stephen Jones, I would start sniffing around for a potential trade partner for McFadden due to the fact that Darius Jackson has shown enough to be on the 53 man roster.

In my opinion the first string defense was slightly above average. It was good to see Tyrone Crawford get a sack against the Dolphins first string offensive line and Jack Crawford showed why he is a valued member of this defensive line rotation. The defense accounted for three sacks with the two coming from Shaneil Jenkins and Kyle Wilber against the Dolphins second and third string reserves and the line did not look as efficient with their stunts which should be cleaned up going forward.

With the influx of injuries during camp to their rotation, it’s a miracle that the defense has been able to muster any continuity. As the team goes into it’s third preseason game, it would be smart for the team to rest both Crawford’s and allow Jenkins, Thornton and McAdoo to prove their worthiness of consideration for the 53 man roster.

The reality is that the Cowboys pass rush is still questionable and with Demarcus Lawrence’s suspension at the beginning of the season it will be important for the Cowboys to have a strong rush up the middle to compensate for a lack of pressure on the outside. Ryan Russell has slowed down and i’m not sure if it is because of the amount of playing time he has received during camp or his inability to add more pass rushing skills to his repertoire. At this time the free agent pool has dried and I am hoping the Cowboys Pro Personnel team has devoted a large amount of time looking at the lines of the Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks with the hopes of plucking a player they were hoping to sneak onto their practice squads. The pass rush has fans on Twitter so worried there are calls for the team to consider resigning Greg Hardy. According to Stephen Jones that ship has sailed. I’m starting to wonder why Rolando McClain’s ship is still in the dock? Has he kicked the “purple drank” demon?

purple drank

Watching this defense it’s imperative for the Cowboys to learn about their backups. We know what a healthy Sean Lee will do once the big lights come on but there are still questions about Anthony Hitchens and although he has been solid, I can’t say that I haven’t thought about donating the nerve in my knee to Jaylon Smith so that he can start his career. Although it’s likely that he will be put on the IR once the season begins, I hope he recovers because everyone wants to see a good guy succeed.

Damien Wilson played his first game since the incident that could have made him a fake pirate and he showed why the coaches are excited about his growth. The problem is that Derek Akunne and Deon King haven’t shown enough (yet) to make it past the second cut.  When the defense goes to nickel, don’t be surprised to see Wilson paired with Sean Lee. Wilson is an athlete that can run and it looks like he has been studying because there hasn’t been the mistakes that you would associate with someone who has missed the majority of camp. By my count there are only five linebackers that will make this team and I am hoping that one of the rookies or first year players replace Andrew Gachkar. I’m of the belief you should churn the roster but it should happen with players ranked 45-53 on the roster and salary should be a consideration.

The Cowboys secondary has played with an attitude since the beginning of camp and it’s carried over to their preseason games. Claiborne looks ready for the season and Brandon Carr looks aggressive, which is a good thing. The safety position is a little muddled currently due to Jeff Heath’s injury. Although I have been a JJ Wilcox supporter since they drafted him, I have to admit it’s been hard to defend his recent play. Wilcox looks like a player that could benefit from a change of scenery. I’m not sure if this coaching staff has made it’s mind up about him but if they continue to play him out of position he will wind up unemployed. His reaction skills have decreased and it looks like he’s still thinking too much instead of playing. Kavon Frazier hasn’t shown enough to unseat him (yet) and the team has not shown the testicular fortitude to go with the unknown. Would anyone be upset if they signed Antonio Cromartie?

One last thing….It was great to see Orlando Scandrick playing without limitations. Scandrick is the heart of this defense and his fiery play may be what this defense has missed. Could the Cowboys get away with only four cornerbacks on the roster at the beginning of the season. The teams roster will evolve as suspended players like Lawrence returns but if this team keeps a FB on the roster, I might be forced to write Jerry a letter.

So Mote It Be