The season is upon us. Real, live, NFL games arrive in just a week’s time as the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs host the Houston Texans on Thursday Night Football.
Team rosters league-wide must be trimmed to no more than 53 players by Saturday, September 5th at 4PM E.T.
This is around the part of the week where every sportswriter takes a swing at predicting his team’s final 53 man roster. This sportswriter is no different. This has been an odd preseason, to say the least.
Covid-19 has wiped out all in-game evaluation, and Cowboys Head Coach Mike McCarthy has limited video and information from Cowboys camp (which should please us all).
Nonetheless, working with the available information, here is how I see the final 53 shaking out.
QB (3) Dak Prescott, Andy Dalton, Ben DiNucci
Dak is the starter, Andy Dalton is making grown man backup money.
It’s always nice to collect and groom young quarterbacks within your organization. It’s not so much that Ben DiNucci has done any amazing things at camp. It’s just a case where I laid out the offense on paper and still had spots available. I feel like the Cowboys can afford to keep DiNucci from a roster standpoint, so they have no reason not to.
RB (3) Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, Sewo Olonilua
Zeke and Pollard are of course your 1-2 punch. Many call for Rico Dowdle as RB3, but I have Olonilua beating him out on position flex.
RB3 isn’t going to see a lot of snaps as a feature back. So what else can you do? Olonilua, in addition to being a solid runner, can lead block, and probably also flex out and do F-Back/H-Back things for you. The Cowboys really only brought one other player to camp with that type of FB/TE multi-user capability. That player, Charlie Tamoepeau has been cut already.
I don’t see the Cowboys going heavy on the fullback this season. However, if you do want to get into that look, who are you going to have do it? Olonilua could potentially be FB1, RB3, and TE4 for the Cowboys. Sewo is in for me.
WR (6) Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb, Cedrick Wilson, Noah Brown, Ventell Bryant
Cooper, Gallup, and Lamb are locks. Cedrick Wilson has been a star at the camp, and according to coach Mike McCarthy, Noah Brown has made his presence known every session this summer.
I’m not 100% sold on the Cowboys keeping 6 wideouts, but if they do, #6 is very likely Bryant, because of his special teams’ ability.
TE (3) Blake Jarwin, Blake Bell, Dalton Schultz
This one is very simple. Jarwin just got paid. Blake Bell was brought in specifically to be the blocking TE, and Schultz wins the #3 job by default.
The Cowboys just bring any newcomers to camp talented enough to make any noise at TE.
OL (9) Tyron Smith, Connor McGovern, Joe Looney, Zack Martin, Lael Collins, Cam Erving, Connor Williams, Brandon Knight, Tyler Biadasz
All chalk here. No surprises.
Smith, Martin, and Collins are starters. The other two spots will be tussled for by Looney, McGovern, Williams, and the rookie Biadasz. The losers of that battle will be primary interior backups.
Cam Erving was brought in to be the swing tackle (God help us). Brandon Knight played solidly in spot duty last season, and the Cowboys will want to keep him around.
DL (10) Dontari Poe, Neville Gallimore, Trysten Hill, Antwaun Woods, Tyrone Crawford, Demarcus Lawrence, Aldon Smith, Bradlee Anae, Everson Griffen, Justin Hamilton
Poe, Gallimore, Woods, and Hill are your 4 major contributors inside. Lawrence, Smith, Griffen, and Anae are your guys on the edge.
Tyrone Crawford is a nice Swiss army knife who can spell either group.
I thought long and hard here about Dorance Armstrong, but in the end, Justin Hamilton is the only other jumbo DT at camp. It would be nice to have him on board as insurance for Poe, or if you want to activate him vs. a run-heavy squad, and have him work in tandem with Poe.
Hamilton is a goner is Randy Gregory gets reinstated.
LB (6) Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, Sean Lee, Joe Thomas, Francis Bernard, Luke Gifford
This is a really good group.
Smith, LVE, and Lee are your no-brainers.
Joe Thomas is a starter on many teams across the league and is a fantastic value as a backup.
Gifford was a star last preseason, and Bernard has simply made too many plays at camp to allow him to getaway.
DB (10) Chidobe Awuzie, Trevon Diggs, Jourdan Lewis, Anthony Brown, Daryl Worley, CJ Goodwin, Xavier Woods, Darian Thompson, Donovan Wilson, Reggie Robinson
Awuzie, Diggs, Lewis, Woods, and Brown will log major snaps.
Thompson, Wilson, and Robinson will all compete for time at safety, but all easily make the squad.
Worley’s position flex helps his case, as he can chip in at both corner and safety. CJ Goodwin is really only a corner by name. Special teams get him on the squad.
I have free-agent acquisition Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix missing the cut.
Special Teams (3) LP Ladouceur, Greg Zuerlein, Chris Jones
Long Snapper LP Ladouceur’s next game will be his 238th as a Dallas Cowboy. Do you remember the last bad special teams snap? Me either.
It was opined that Greg Zuerlein’s 2019 struggles (10 missed field goals) were a side effect of injury. That theory looks to have been proven true, as “Greg the Leg” has been cash money in Cowboys camp.
Oddly, the Cowboys return the league’s least effective punter, without ever even bringing anyone aboard to challenge him. Feels like a design flaw in the battleship, but time will tell.
The Cowboys always have some head-scratching surprises on cutdown day and are known to be active in the trade game near the deadline.
Curveballs aside, this is my 53.
Featured Image: ---