Final 53-Man Roster Projection

Mandatory roster cuts from 90 players to 53 are due on Saturday, so who has earned their way onto the Cowboys roster? Here’s my final projection for the opening 53-man roster.

QB

1. Dak Prescott
2. Cooper Rush
3. Kellen Moore (Inactive)

Cooper Rush has done enough not only to make the team, but also to win the backup quarterback job. I don’t believe Rush’s presence means Moore’s exit though, because the Cowboys still really like Moore’s IQ during game week. Cutting Moore would mean that Dak Prescott would be the longest tenured NFL quarterback on the roster. There needs to be another veteran brain in the quarterback room during the week, and I believe that adds up to both Rush and Moore making the team.

RB

1. Darren McFadden
2. Alfred Morris
3. Rod Smith

All three backs have performed admirably in the preseason. McFadden’s versatility and all-around skill as a pass-catcher and blocker earns him the starting role. I expect McFadden and Alfred Morris to split roughly 80% of the carries, with Rod Smith taking the other 20%, but the workload distribution isn’t very clear at the moment.

FB

1. Keith Smith

Keith Smith has had a strong preseason as the lead blocker for Dallas’ backs, and Jason Garrett is a guy who still believes in the fullback position. Smith also spent time working on becoming a receiving threat this offseason, which endears him even more to the coaching staff.

WR

1. Dez Bryant
2. Terrance Williams
3. Cole Beasley
4. Brice Butler
5. Ryan Switzer
6. Noah Brown (Inactive)

Although I’m not nearly as high on Noah Brown as others are, he’s earned his spot on the roster. I don’t think Dallas necessarily wants to keep six receivers this year, but they definitely don’t want to lose Brown this year, and then need him in 2018 when Brice Butler likely departs. Speaking of Butler, I think he’s Dallas’ more traditional fourth receiving option. Ryan Switzer will be subbed in depending on the package, functioning as Lucky Whitehead’s replacement, and the eventual heir to Cole Beasley’s slot throne.

TE

1. Jason Witten
2. James Hanna
3. Geoff Swaim
4. Rico Gathers (Inactive)

The line is blurred between TE2 and TE3 this season. I think Swaim and Hanna will get equal snaps, and both could be considered the team’s #2 tight end depending on the package or play call. Rico Gathers makes the 53, but won’t be active unless there is an injury ahead of him. Gathers’ spot on the 53 is to shield him from other teams looking to pluck him from the practice squad.

OL

1. Tyron Smith (LT)
2. Jonathan Cooper (LG)
3. Travis Frederick (C)
4. Zack Martin (RG)
5. La’el Collins (RT)
6. Joe Looney (C-G)
7. Byron Bell (G-T)
8. Emmett Cleary (OT)

Jonathan Cooper has won the left guard job with La’el Collins’ move to right tackle. Entering training camp, I think the staff viewed him as third out of three in the competition, but Chaz Green simply cannot stay healthy, and Cooper has outplayed Byron Bell. Dallas will have to go light on the offensive line with quarterback, tight end, and receiver carrying heavy. I think that bodes well for tweeners Joe Looney (plays guard and center) Byron Bell (players tackle and guard) and Emmett Cleary (functions as a swing tackle, playing both sides). I think this is the end of the line for Green, a former third round pick out of Florida.

DL

1. DeMarcus Lawrence (RE)
2. Stephen Paea (1T)
3. Maliek Collins (3T)
4. Tyrone Crawford (LE)
5. Taco Charlton
6. Charles Tapper
7. Benson Mayowa
8. Cedric Thornton
9. Lewis Neal (Inactive)

No surprises here, except maybe that ninth spot. That final spot (until Damontre’ Moore and David Irving return) is a battle between Joey Ivie, Lewis Neal, and Jordan Carrell. I’ve heard from a couple of different people lately that Ivie has not looked good, so that narrows it to Neal or Carrell, who are actually training camp roommates. I think in the end it goes to the undersized Neal.

LB

1. Sean Lee
2. Justin Durant
3. Damien Wilson
4. Jaylon Smith
5. Kyle Wilber
6. Mark Nzeocha (Inactive)

The Cowboys could keep Kennan Gilchrist as their seventh linebacker, but I think they like too many other guys on their roster. Dallas can afford to go a little thinner at linebacker, as they often play nickel packages. I think Damien Wilson-Justin Durant-Sean Lee is your base package, with Durant and Lee being your primary guys in the nickel. Until his health has fully returned, Jaylon Smith is likely the backup to Durant at the Mike.

CB

1. Nolan Carroll
2. Anthony Brown
3. Orlando Scandrick
4. Chidobe Awuzie
5. Marquez White
6. Jourdan Lewis (Inactive)

Keep in mind, these projections are for the start of the season, which is why Jourdan Lewis is inactive. As the year goes along, I think Lewis will overtake Marquez White, and it will ultimately be White who is inactive on gameday.

S

1. Byron Jones
2. Jeff Heath
3. Kavon Frazier
4. Xavier Woods (Inactive)

These inactives will likely change over time, but for now I’ve got Woods making the roster and being inactive. He’s played well when given the chance, but he’s been nagged by some injuries. I think his potential wins out over Robert Blanton, and I believe the Cowboys will only carry three active safeties because of the positional flexibility of Chidobe Awuzie.

K/P/LS

1. Dan Bailey
2. Chris Jones
3. L.P. Ladouceur

The sun rises in the East and sets in the West.

10 thoughts on “Final 53-Man Roster Projection

    1. Nolan Corral is garbage he needs to be cut immediately , why in the hell would they pick him up when he was in Philly he got burn and dragged by every receiver in the NFL ,he will hurt our defense big time, no

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    2. Kellen Moore is garbage i mean REALLY Scott needs to let his boy go,Rush is a great back up to Dak ,Moore has issues all around the field if I am the only one that sees that then he needs to show me he is a elite QB and not turn the ball over.

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  1. I like it and agree with it for the most part. Letting Green walk is understandable but I think he makes the team as the swing tackle. He is head and shoulders above Cleary, though your argument of availability is reasonable.
    Thanks, good work.

    Like

  2. We need better CB we haven’t had a shut down CB since PRIME TIME#21 Sanders, a pass rusher like 2 tacos with a lot of hot sauce Dallas defence would be gut busting the real SHIT.

    Like

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