With cut day looming on Saturday, the Dallas Cowboys have some interesting decisions to make regarding their final roster. From Ezekiel Elliott‘s situation regarding his suspension still in flux to the severity of the injury to starting linebacker Anthony Hitchens, Head Coach Jason Garrett and General Manager Jerry Jones have their work cut out paring down Dallas’ depth. Here’s a look at my Cowboys 53-man roster projections before their Week 1 tilt with division-rival New York Giants next Sunday night.
Cowboys 53-man Roster Projections
Quarterback (2): Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush
Maybe I’m crazy. Garrett and Jones have both insisted on keeping three quarterbacks with Kellen Moore being the odd-man out on my roster. I understand the desire for experience here, especially with an undrafted free agent in Rush as your sole backup. However, with the uncertainty surrounding positions such as running back and linebacker, I think the Cowboys are better served spreading out the versatility elsewhere.
Running Back (5): Ezekiel Elliott, Darren McFadden, Alfred Morris, Rod Smith, Keith Smith
Accounts about what will happen with Elliott and his suspension are flying all over the place. The consensus seems to be that at the very least the suspension will be reduced if not completely lifted. The appeal could also continue to drag out into next week, meaning Elliott could suit up for Week 1 before his potential suspension would start. As this situation remains fluid, I have Elliott on the final roster.
Wide Receivers (6): Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Ryan Switzer, Brice Butler, Noah Brown
Pretty standard here with maybe Noah Brown being the biggest surprise to make the team. Brown getting first-team reps against the Oakland Raiders was a huge sign how much Garrett likes him.
Tight Ends (3): Jason Witten, James Hanna, Geoff Swaim
Do consider that the Cowboys could put Rico Gathers on designated Injured Reserve with a concussion to start the season.
Offensive Line (9): Tyron Smith, Chaz Green, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, La’el Collins, Joe Looney, Byron Bell, Jonathan Cooper, Kadeem Edwards
With how much banging the big boys do in the trenches, I like going with an extra man here. Also considering Chaz Green‘s hurt ankle, the Cowboys would be smart to have some extra depth here at least to start the season. Also, according to Marcus Mosher of Bleacher Report, if Dallas does go with nine offensive linemen, he likes the ceiling on tackle Kadeem Edwards over Emmett Cleary.
Defensive Line (8): DeMarcus Lawrence, Maliek Collins, Cedric Thornton, Tyrone Crawford, Taco Charlton, Stephen Paea, Charles Tapper, Benson Mayowa
Linebackers (6): Sean Lee, Damien Wilson, Jaylon Smith, Justin Durant, Kyle Wilber, Mark Nzeocha
This does leave the linebacking crew a little light, but Sean Lee, Damien Wilson, and Jaylon Smith are all very versatile. In spite of the good news that Anthony Hitchens‘ injury was not as severe as first thought, he’s still going to need to some time on IR with designation to return.
Cornerbacks (6): Nolan Carroll, Orlando Scandrick, Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Marquez White, Anthony Brown
Arguably the weakest position on the team. The Cowboys were in on Joe Haden before he signed with Pittsburgh. A couple of rookies in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis have been banged up this preseason. An extra man on the outside should suit for now.
Safeties (5): Jeff Heath, Byron Jones, Kavon Frazier, Xavier Woods, Robert Blanton
It will be a stretch for Robert Blanton to make the team as the fifth safety. His veteran leadership should guide the younger players and he should help out on special teams.
Special Teams (3): Dan Bailey, Chris Jones, L.P. Ladouceur