Projecting the Cowboys’ 53-man Roster: Who Survives? Who Gets Cut?

The first major cuts will take place a week from tomorrow, August 30, when the Cowboys must trim the roster from 90 to 75. Just a couple of days later, the team must then cut the roster to 53 players, making the next few weeks exceedingly intense for everyone involved.

The next two preseason games will most likely be the determining factor into who does and does not make the roster, with the next test coming on Thursday night against the Seattle Seahawks. With that being said, here is my projection for the Cowboys’ 53-man roster midway through the preseason.

Quarterback (3)

– Tony Romo

– Dak Prescott

– Jameill Showers

Once Kellen Moore went down with a season-ending leg injury, it was reported that the Cowboys were actively pursuing a backup quarterback like Nick Foles or Josh McCown. That all ended in a flash when Dak Prescott opened the eyes of many with his play in the first two preseason games. It is obvious now that he is going to be the backup barring injury, but the surprise here is that I think Showers still makes the team. This most likely means that a tight end or wide receiver will have to be let go instead, but I do not believe this team is ready to cut the cord on Showers just yet. If put on the practice squad, I wholeheartedly believe that a team will poach him off of it.

Running Back (4)

– Ezekiel Elliott

– Alfred Morris

– Lance Dunbar

– Darius Jackson

NFI: Darren McFadden

No surprises here with Darius Jackson showing out in the preseason, and Lance Dunbar being activated from his knee injury yesterday. Alfred Morris has not only proven this summer that he is the primary backup going forward, but he will undoubtedly get his fair share of carries in the run game. The odd man out is Darren McFadden, who is currently on the NFI list because of his elbow injury, but I would not be surprised to see him traded.

Fullback (1)

– Rod Smith

This was a tough one for me considering that I really like Keith Smith, but if this team is going to carry a fullback, they are going to roll with Rod Smith, who is a proven commodity on both special teams and at the fullback position.

Wide Receiver (5)

– Dez Bryant

– Terrance Williams

– Cole Beasley

– Brice Butler

– Lucky Whitehead

PS: Andy Jones, Vince Mayle

The top five receivers here are pretty much set in stone, but the difficulty begins with Andy Jones, Devin Street and the sixth spot. Personally, I think it is time to move on from Devin Street. He has not developed as fast as this team had hoped with the opportunities he was given. On the other hand, I was all aboard the Andy Jones hype train before training camp, but I’m starting to come to the realization that this team would rather add depth at another position. This could change if Andy Jones goes off in the next two games, but as it stands right now, there are only five wide receivers making this roster.

Tight End (3)

– Jason Witten

– Gavin Escobar

– Geoff Swaim

PS: Rico Gathers, Austin Traylor

PUP: James Hanna

In my opinion, this position is the most difficult to project with Geoff Swaim, Rico Gathers, and Austin Traylor all vying for spots on this team. The safe option is obviously Geoff Swaim, who has become a more well-rounded player as both a blocker and receiver, but is also able to play on special teams. The upside option is Rico Gathers, the team’s final draft pick of the 2016 NFL draft. We have not seen much of Gathers this preseason, which could either mean he is simply not ready, or this team is trying to hide him from other teams in the league. It is hard to tell, but I think Gathers making this team is essentially a coin flip at this point. The other tight end is Austin Traylor, whose blocking and ability to play special teams could earn him a roster spot as the fourth tight end, but I believe they will carry Gathers as the fourth guy if they are to go that route.

Offensive Line (8)

– Tyron Smith

– La’el Collins

– Travis Frederick

– Zack Martin

– Doug Free

– Ron Leary

– Chaz Green

– Joe Looney

PS: Bryan Witzmann, Jared Smith

IR: Cameron Bradfield

Just like the five wide receivers I highlighted, the eight offensive linemen listed here are essentially locked in. The question then comes to if this team is willing to give Bryan Witzmann or a free agent a roster spot ahead of someone like Jameill Showers or Shaneil Jenkins, something that I don’t think they will do in the end.

Defensive Tackles (6)

– Tyrone Crawford

– Cedric Thornton

– Terrell McClain

– Jack Crawford

– Maliek Collins

– Shaneil Jenkins

PS: Rodney Coe, Zach Wood

The big news of the preseason on the defensive side of the ball in terms of the younger players has been the emergence of Shaneil Jenkins, an undrafted free agent who was signed after the Denver Broncos let him go earlier in the summer. His switch from defensive end to three technique has resulted in this team possibly finding a gem once again. With his performance in training camp and the preseason, I think he has a great shot of making this team.

Defensive Ends (4)

– Benson Mayowa

– Ryan Russell

– David Irving

– Charles Tapper

SUS: DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory

Nothing to really see here, although, a player could be signed or traded for at this position in the future.

Linebackers (7)

– Sean Lee

– Anthony Hitchens

– Kyle Wilber

– Mark Nzeocha

– Justin Durant

– Andrew Gachkar

– Damien Wilson

PS: Deon King

SUS: Rolando McClain

NFI: Jaylon Smith

Another crowded position for this team will see some talented players cut, but I think they will go with seven linebackers. The player I have a tough time seeing leave is James Morris, who has proven value as a special teams player, but I believe this team already has a similar player in Andrew Gachkar. With Damien Wilson being a fourth round pick just a year ago, he gets a pass. Justin Durant was signed last month, and this team could use an experienced player like him at the Mike position.

Cornerbacks (5)

– Orlando Scandrick

– Morris Claiborne

– Brandon Carr

– Anthony Brown

– Deji Olatoye

PS: Jeremiah McKinnon

The cornerback group most likely has five cornerbacks with set spots on the roster, but could a sixth corner like Josh Thomas or Jeremiah McKinnon make it? McKinnon seems destined for the practice squad, and Josh Thomas, a slot cornerback who has been around the league for a while. Thomas has a better chance of sticking, but he is going to have to stand out to take away a roster spot from another position like defensive tackle or quarterback.

Safeties (4)

– Byron Jones

– Barry Church

– Jeff Heath

– Kavon Frazier

Happy trails JJ Wilcox. That is all.

Specialists (3)

– Dan Bailey

– Chris Jones

– LP Ladouceur

The easiest prediction in this article.

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