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

Ideal Dallas Cowboys Offseason Scenario 1.0

Free Agency is underway and the Cowboys are likely going to stay in the wait and see role that they usually spend their time in every free agency period. But there is a scenario that I believe can upgrade the Cowboys roster that involves little money used in free agency. The Cowboys currently have roughly 8.5 million dollars in cap space after the restructure of Sean Lee’s contract. That is not a great spot to be in but they can make a couple of decent moves on that deal.

 

Re-Sign

Brandon Carr – With both Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr free agents one of the two will have to come back. Carr is likely the cheaper option and the more reliable option. I could see the Cowboys offering Carr a one or two year deal worth two to three million dollars. Signing Carr back gives the Cowboys a starting cornerback lineup to start the season with before even heading into the draft.

Kellen Moore – This isn’t a sexy signing but it is one that fills a hole in the Cowboys roster. Moore is very smart football player that does’t possess the physical tools to be much more than a backup in the NFL. Perfect spot for a Quarterback that will cost little to nothing that can be a great mentor for your second year QB.

J.J. Wilcox – I know I know, some people would rather have me at Safety rather than Wilcox but the truth is J.J. was one of best role players the Cowboys had on their defense last season. Wilcox fixed his sloppy tackling problem and the horrendous angles he used to use on ball carriers in open space, but after cleaning up his game in his fourth year the Cowboys could use the experience at the safety position. With the signing of Wilcox it leaves Dallas with Jeff Heath (the teams interception leader), second year player Kavon Frazier, and starting Free Safety Byron Jones.

Darren McFadden – McFadden also is not a sexy signing but with Ezekiel Elliott and Alfred Morris the only backs currently on the roster they must sign a veteran back. While McFadden doesn’t do anything great, he does almost everything well. McFadden can run and catch the ball out of the backfield and is a guy you can trust to protect your QB in the backfield. McFadden is another guy who isn’t going to make you break the bank. Bringing Darren back on a short term team friendly deal makes to much sense for both parties.

 

Missed The Cut

Terrell McClain – Reason? – Money.

Jack Crawford – Reason? Need more than just a body.

Morris Claiborne – Reason? Inability to stay healthy and money.

Barry Church – Reason? Money.

Ron Leary – Reason? Money.

Terrance Williams – Reason? Money.

Brice Butler – Inconsistency at the position

Barry Church

Roster Cuts


Tony Romo
– Reason? – Size of contract, relationship with ownership that wants the best for their former starter, to expensive to be backup. Cutting Romo saves the Cowboys around 5.1 million dollars.

Alfred Morris – Reason? Morris was a great player for Washington in his prime but after a disappointing season as the back up to Zeke, the Cowboy should do  Alfred and themselves a favor by moving on from Morris. Cutting Morris saves the Cowboys a little more than 1 million dollars.

 

Free Agency Signings

Demarcus Ware – A familiar face that Dallas has missed since his departure. Ware with his age and injury history will likely not draw as much interest or money as he did when he initially left Dallas. With Ware not having to many years left in him coming back to the team he started his Hall of Fame career at on a one year 2 million dollar deal.

Signing the four guys back from their 2016 season roster and adding Ware would put them right at their cap limit going into the draft. Dallas will likely have a little spare change left to maybe throw at a veteran Linebacker or Offensive Lineman.

Going into the draft in this scenario makes the defensive line not AS MUCH of a need. You have your starting left end in Demarcus Lawrence and your starting right end in Demarcus Ware. Inside you have both Malik Collins and Cedric Thornton as your starting defensive tackles. In this scenario you will also have David Irving and Tyrone Crawford as your hybrid backups. This is where both players versatility really helps you out on game-days. Both Irving and Crawford can back up both the left end position and the defensive tackle position. That leaves Benson Mayowa and Charles Tapper at your back ups at right end. With your starting front seven looking like Demarcus Ware, Maliek Collins, Thornton, Lawrence as your defensive line and the starting linebackers looking like Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, and Damien Wilson. The Dallas secondary is semi set with Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick, and Anthony Brown as your starting Cornerbacks with Byron Jones as your starting Free Safety and J.J. Wilcox penciled in as your starting Strong Safety. Let’s Draft!

In the first round the Cowboys need to address the Wide Receiver position with Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, Lucky Whitehead, and Andy Jones looking to be the only receivers on the active roster. Luckily for the Cowboys the new 40 yard dash record holder should be hanging on by a thread at their selection. The Cowboys select former Washington Huskie John Ross III with the 28th pick in the draft. Ross is a speed demon that can run impressive routes to match with that record setting speed. Ross will fit in great as a “Z” receiver in Dallas fitting the mold the Cowboys usually like in their number #2 guy.

With Cornerback looking like the biggest need in the second round the Cowboys grab a really good player here with former UCLA Bruin Fabian Moreau. Moreau lasting to the 56th overall pick would be a dream come true for the Cowboys but I think its possible. When you have a CB class like this years instead of all the talent going off the board at once sometimes you’ll have great corners fall to the second or third rounds, the reason being is when teams see they have a cornerback class with this much depth they seem to wait and pick a player that’s just as good as one of the “top dogs” with their second or third pick. With guys like Marshon Lattimore, Jalen Tabor, Tre White, and Sidney Jones getting a lot of the attention guys like Fabian Moreau, Gareon Conley , Chidobe Awuzie, and Kevin King have a chance to fall.

With your starting offense pretty much set and the defense getting their this third round selection is important. Dallas grabs underrated Defensive End Joe Mathis out of Washington with their third round selection. Mathis has all the tools to be able to be a very productive player in the NFL. Mathis can play the run well while setting a very physical edge which he can also win with speed. Mathis uses his hands well to punch and swipe blockers hands in order to get to the QB. Pairing an inexperienced but really talented pass rusher with Demarcus Ware to mentor in his final year in the league could work wonders for the future of the Cowboys rushmen.

With both the offense and defense looking a lot stronger now in my opinion the Cowboys take their yearly “redshirt” player in round four with Linebacker Kendell Beckwith out of LSU. Beckwith is a really intriguing player three down player at LSU and looks to be just that in the NFL. Beckwith is a quick footed tackling machine that seems to always be around the ball. A player with his ability shouldn’t be available in the fourth round but after tearing his ACL just a few months ago the former Tiger standout may miss at least the majority of his rookie season.

THE COWBOYS DO NOT HAVE A FIFTH ROUND PICK.

Entering the sixth round you start to look at guys who have traits that could potentially be developed into a good player. In the sixth round Dallas can add just that in Offensive Tackle Aviante Collins out of TCU. Collins blew up the combine posting the best 40 time out of all the offensive linemen. Collins at 6-4, 295 pounds put up 34 reps on the bench press (225lbs) and ran a eye popping 4.81 40 yard dash. Collins doesn’t have the ideal body for a Tackle but with how explosive he looked at the Combine he is certainly intriguing this late in the Draft.

Dallas has two seventh round picks in this years draft, both of them will be spent on offense. Chad Kelley former Ole Miss Quarterback will be the first of the two picks. Kelly is a really intriguing player. Kelly is a great athlete with an absolute cannon for an arm. Kelly knows how to make plays with his feet and has the ideal size you look for in a pocket passer. Kelly has his fair share of off the field issues and makes plenty of questionable decisions but has the arm talent and athleticism to make the late round pick worth it for a team that struck gold with their “project” quarterback in last years draft.

With the Cowboys final draft pick they will spend it on a Running Back. Teriyon Gipson out of New Mexico is the selection. Gipson fits the Lance Dunbar role perfectly and that is a role that will need to be filled with Dunbar’s departure. Gipson is lighting in a bottle that will run around you, past you, and even through you for a guy that is only 5’9 190 pounds. Gipson has smooth hands out of the backfield and can fit in on special teams to as a returner or a gunner.

 

After it’s all said and done if this scenario that I laid out for you goes as planned the Cowboys 53 man roster could look a little something like this:

  1. Dak Prescott
  2. Kellen Moore
  3. Chad Kelly
  4. Ezekiel Elliott
  5. Darren McFadden
  6. Teriyon Gipson
  7. Keith Smith
  8. Dez Bryant
  9. Cole Beasley
  10. John Ross III
  11. Lucky Whitehead
  12. Andy Jones
  13. Jason Witten
  14. James Hanna
  15. Geoff Swaim
  16. Tyron Smith
  17. La’el Collins
  18. Travis Fredrick
  19. Zack Martin
  20. Doug Free
  21. Chaz Greeb
  22. Joe Looney
  23. Emmett Cleary
  24. Demarcus Ware
  25. Demarcus Lawrence
  26. Malik Collins
  27. Cedric Thornton
  28. Benson Mayowa
  29. Charles Tapper
  30. Tyrone Crawford
  31. David Irving
  32. Joe Mathis
  33. Sean Lee
  34. Jaylon Smith
  35. Damien Wilson
  36. Mark Nzeocha
  37. Anthony Hitchens
  38. Kyle Wilber
  39. Brandon Carr
  40. Orlando Scandrick
  41. Anthony Brown
  42. Fabian Moreau
  43. Byron Jones
  44. Jeff Heath
  45. Kavon Frazier
  46. J.J. Wilcox
  47. Chris Jones
  48. Dan Bailey
  49. L.P Ladouceur
  50. Aviante Collins
  51. Leon McFadden
  52. Kendell Beckwith
  53. Richard Ash

 

No one can see into the future, but this plan allows them to stay within their budget in free agency and really maximize the “best player available” situation when entering the draft. Comments welcomed!

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

Aftermath – Cowboys Beat Eagles in OT

Orlando Scandrick

The elation in the locker stadium after last nights overtime victory against the Eagles was palpable. The vibe in the lcoker room was so strong you could see it. Heck, Cowboys Nation livinig rooms and man-caves from coast to coast were all rocking late last night as rookie Dak Prescott passed his latest NFL test proving he can lead the team to victory even when he’s not playing all that well.

It’s Monday morning now however and it’s time to assess the aftermath of the huge victory. What went right, what went wrong, what the team can build on and what (perhaps) will bite the club in the nether regions sometime in the future.

Bye Week Rust – The bye week rust was a BIG factor in the game. Penalties, miscues and brain farts were the order of the day as the team found new ways to make mental mistakes on almost every drive. This is a 180 degree reversal from how they’ve played up to this point in the season. There should be no reason the team should not be able to get their mental processes in order by next week.

Dez Bryant Is Not The Anti-Christ – In rapid knee-jerk fashion fans were quick to blame Dez for (in no particular order):

  • Every penalty by every player
  • Every pass not thrown to Beasely
  • Every play not handed off to Elliott
  • Every errant pass
  • Every interception
  • Third world food crisis
  • Donald Trump and/or Hillary Clinton

And this was by sometime in the middle of the first quarter. The Eagles were stacking the box and daring Prescott (the Cowboys) to beat them with the outside receivers. I wrote about the choice a few days ago and the Eagles chose to let Prescott beat them in the air versus letting Elliott do it on the ground. The cliche “take what the defense gives you” is a cliche for a reason. Dak is best when throwing short with the mid zones his biggest challenge. On an off day he missed a LOT of throws. He wasn’t just missing when throwing to Dez, he was missing when he was tossing the ball to the ref after a play.

As teams adjust to what the Cowboys and Prescott do on game day the club will have to find ways to adjust their attack as well. The Eagles had the horses to play the team tough but Dallas showed they have more than one way to pluck a bird.

Jason Garrett Head Coaching Chops – After a timely (though failed) onside kick earlier in the season Garrett tossed in a fake punt that caught the Eagles (and Cowboys Nation) totally by surprise for a game changing play as punter Chris Jones used every bit of speed he had to get as far downfield as he could (30 yards) before smartly stepping out of bounds as defenders closed. When you go for it on 4th down it should be important. It was. While Eagles HC Pederson is getting lambasted for not taking timouts at the end of regulation Garrett is smiling like the proverbial cat that ate the canary eagle.

Injuires Suck, Talented Depth Rocks – Reportedly Barry Church has broken his forearm and Morris Claiborne has a serious groin injury he was hit with in the fourth quarter. J.J. Wilcox stepped in and the didn’t take ONE bad angle or miss a tackle. Orlando Scandrick stepped back on the field and was money in the fourth. The come-from-behind-tomahawk sack on Wentz to end the drive was brilliant. His coverage was crtical. Rookie Anthony Brown and veteran Jeff Heath both turned in excellent performances by being in position and making the tackle in front of them. Losing Church for weeks and Claiborne for an unknow period are critical injuries to be certain. Unlike previous years, this club has the depth to deal with it. No word on rookie Maliek Collins injury.

Linebacking – Sean Lee is a stud. Yes he has an injury history and I really don’t care. Watching him hold court on game day is a thing of beauty and his play sets the tone for the weakest unit on the club. Enjoy every game you get to watch him play. He’s special. Though he got his rear chewed out by Lee after missing an assignment, Anthony Hitchens had a good day as well. The biggest thing Lee, Hithcens and Damien Wilson did besides almost never being out of position was make the tackles in front of them. Superb tackling, absoultely sublime. Solid wrap up hits with more than a couple coming on the Eagles side of the line of scrimmage. You want your weakest link to have strong days. They did against Philly.

TE Jason Witten – The record for most career starts (204) as a Cowboys is now all his after passing Ed “Too Tall” Jones mark last night. Toss in tying Lee Roy Jordan’s consecutive start milestone and another “game winning” touchdown and it’s pretty obvious why the team went bonkers around him after the TD catch in overtime. Witten “is the team.” More than one player molds their approach to the game on Jason’s standard. It’s amazing to me the nubmer of fans that want’ to cut/trade/move on from a guy that does so much more for the team than what we see on the field. Slow down, enjoy every snap Witten delivers. He’s a sure-fired future Hall of Fame inductee, he’s on your team and still one of the top five best TE’s in the league. Seriously, enjoy.

Ezekiel Elliott – I count this as his most impressive showing to date. If not for the holding penalty that brought back his awesome 63 yard scamper he would have topped 100 yards again but that’s not the impressive part. The tough runs, critical blocks, soft hands, tight routes and unselfish play were all on display as Zeke used his full toolkit Sunday night. There is no doubting the Cowboys have a talented group of running backs. There is also zero doubt Zeke is special, heads and shoulders above the rest. Yes, he’s worth his draft position.

(Not So) Special Teams – WTF?!?! Lucky Whitehead and company made bonehead mistkae after bonehead mistake. Up till now the unit has been golden. Bye week rust? We will see.

Dak Prescott Interception – Apologist be damed, it was a bad decision, a bad throw and nothing is going to change that. Should the Cowboys have been running the ball on that down? An interesting conversaton that has nothing to do with the intercepiton itself. What we do know is Linehan doesn’t have one play in the book that calls for throwing the ball directly into a defenders hands. Not one. The interception is on Prescott. He’s a rookie. It happens. I doubt he makes that mistake again.

Defensive Line Play – Terrell McClains forced fumble was a thing of beauty. Pressure was inconsistent but there when it needed to be. DeMarcus Lawrence is still finding his way. Tyrone Crawford likes playing from the edge. This is the best run stuffing unit in years. Gregory … argggggg! You could have been the missing link.

The Cleveland Browns are up next. Still a couple days to savor this victory however. After all, fried Monday Morning Eagle is a the breakfast of champions.

What say you Sports Nation?

Another Left Coast Sports Post: on Twitter – Steven Van Over