DALLAS — The regular season is right around the corner and the Dallas Cowboys are preparing for the season opener against the Los Angeles Rams on Sept. 13. Before that can happen, the team has to cut the roster down to 53 players, which could turn out to be a difficult task with the depth and quality that the team has enjoyed at camp under new head coach Mike McCarthy.
Here’s a look at what the roster may look like when the Cowboys open the season:
QB (3): Dak Prescott, Andy Dalton, Ben DiNucci
The first two spots are set in stone, but the question comes with the rookie DiNucci. There aren’t any preseason games to get DiNucci the necessary game snaps to really evaluate him from the outside looking in. However, the team did use a seventh-round draft pick on him for a reason, and they likely don’t want to expose him to waivers where he could be snagged.
RB (3): Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, Sewo Olonilua
Another position where the Cowboys are set at the top two spots. There has been some debate about whether the team will only carry two RBs, Elliott and Pollard, but McCarthy does usually carry a FB and the rookie Olonilua fits the bill, even if he’s a converted RB. The third RB might also be taken by another rookie, undrafted free agent Rico Dowdle.
WR (6): Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb, Noah Brown, Cedrick Wilson, Ventrell Bryant
The big three are a monster trio, and it feels like Brown and Wilson have earned their way on. Bryant could stick with the team because of his special teams prowess.
TE (3): Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz, Blake Bell
Jarwin is the starter and it appears as though Schultz has had a solid training camp to earn his spot. Bell makes the cut because of his blocking prowess and the Cowboys might need his help as a lead blocker in a FB-type of role since they currently don’t have a traditional FB.
OL (9): Tyron Smith, Connor Williams, Joe Looney, Zack Martin, La’el Collins, Connor McGovern, Taylor Biadasz, Cam Erving
The Cowboys may certainly go heavier on the offensive line because of some of their health issues this summer, but they’ll keep at least nine. The top eight seem set and Erving’s versatility and experience could allow him to stick as the ninth lineman.
DL (9): DeMarcus Lawrence, Dontari Poe, Tyrone Crawford, Everson Griffen, Aldon Smith, Trysten Hill, Antwaun Woods, Bradlee Anae, Neville Gallimore
This might prove to be a difficult group to make cuts at and the team has versatility in a few of these players to allow them to stick with nine. Crawford and Smith are prime examples of guys the defense can move around if needed.
LB (6): Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, Sean Lee, Joe Thomas, Luke Gifford, Francis Bernard
The top four appears set and Gifford looks primed to beat out Justin March for that last spot since the rookie Bernard appears to have earned his way on as an undrafted free agent.
CB (6): Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, Jourdan Lewis, Trevon Diggs, Darryl Worley, C.J. Goodwin
It’s a group that looks better than many expected after Byron Jones left in March. Second-round pick Diggs looks like he’s made quite an impression and there’s versatility in the group. Awuzie and Worley might see time at safety as well. Goodwin will make his impact on special teams as one of the best players the team has in that area.
Safety (5): Xavier Woods, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Darian Thompson, Donovan Wilson, Reggie Robinson
The struggles of Clinton-Dix may have forced the Cowboys to move third-round pick Robinson to safety from cornerback, and this position still looks to be in flux. Camp observers don’t seem to be convinced that Clinton-Dix will start and Thompson is in play to start next to Woods. If Clinton-Dix’s roster spot is in peril, look for the team to have 10 offensive or defensive linemen instead and keep just four safeties.
ST (3): K - Greg Zuerlein, P - Chris Jones, LS - L.P. Ladouceur
No surprises here. Jones appears to have gotten back on track in camp after a poor year in 2019. Zuerlein is apparently healthier than he was last season and has been kicking well. Ladouceur is as solid as they come at his niche job.
We will know how the roster shakes out when the Cowboys officially make their list known ahead of the deadline on September 5. From there, those 53 men will be looking to reclaim the NFC East crown and get Dallas back to the Super Bowl for the first time in 25 years.
Do you think there will be any surprises on the 53-man roster for the Cowboys? Share your predictions with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.