Aug 4, 2013; Canton, OH, USA; Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey (5) kicks a field goal in the second quarter of the 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame game against the Miami Dolphins at Fawcett Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Complete Dallas Cowboys 53-man Roster Projection

Jul 23, 2013; Oxnard, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys players stretch during training camp at the River Ridge Fields. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports.

Consider this: Of the 90 players currently on the Dallas Cowboy roster only 53 will actually make the team. That means roughly 42% of the players on the team – will not be on the team. That’s a pretty substantial cut-down we will witness over the next few weeks as roster trimming requirements begin.

Who should we expect to make it and who is sure to be cut? Who is falling behind and who is stepping up? Let’s take a look at the roster and project our first 53-man roster for the Dallas Cowboys 2013 season. This morning we started with offense and now we add the defense and put it all together.

Defense

Nov 18, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter (54) tackles Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson (33) at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys beat the Browns 23-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Linebacker

Roster Spots: 7

Depth: Deep

 

Sean Lee

Bruce Carter

Justin Durant

Ernie Sims

DeVonte Holloman

Brandon Magee

Caleb McSurdy

With two starters showing a propensity to injury it’s difficult to consider the linebacker position as “deep”, but against better judgment, let’s assume the unit remains relatively healthy this season. If that’s the case this unit may be one of the absolute best in the NFL.

If McSurdy makes the cut it will probably be short lived. He’s a valuable Special Teams player and provides depth to a position occupied by a player who requires depth. I believe Cowboy scouts will be on the lookout for interior D-Linemen for other teams’ cuts and McSurdy would be man removed to make room if one is found. This could be done after week 1 when the cost to sign a FA veteran is no longer guaranteed money.

Dec 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; New Orleans Saints receiver Marques Colston (12) has a pass broken up in the end zone by Dallas Cowboys cornerback Sterling Moore (30) Morris Claiborne (24) and safety Gerald Sensabaugh (43) in the second quarter at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Cornerback

Roster Spots: 5

Depth:  Moderate

 

Brandon Carr

Morris Claiborne

Orlando Scandrick

Sterling Moore

BW Webb

BW Webb earns the last CB spot because of draft status and not strong play. With that said no other player really stepped up to make a case for themselves so it’s hard to argue. Micah Pellerin was a Sport DFW favorite who flashed potential but didn’t do quite enough to justify keeping a 6th CB. He has a shot to still prove himself but his best chances are on the practice squad.

Sterling Moore is fairly seasoned and provides Special Teams play along with positional flexibility (he can play FS). He will never be a star in this league but he’s a very valuable player to have and will see plenty of playing time in 2013.

Sep 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back LeGarrette Blount (27) runs the ball against Dallas Cowboys safety Barry Church (42) during the second quarter at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Safety

Roster Spots: 5

Depth:  Dangerously Thin

 

Barry Church

Will Allen

JJ Wilcox

Matt Johnson

Danny McCray

Eric Frampton was great on Special Teams last season but since he’s been hurt he’s expendable. McCray provides similar special team skills along with a little better play in the secondary. Matt Johnson is doing what he does best  – being injured – and the top 3 are sure locks.

Much like the Offensive Line and Defensive Line, Cowboy Scouts will keep their eyes on other teams for safety help. If Matt Johnson can’t get healthy quickly time may run out for him.

Nov 18, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne (24) – defensive end Anthony Spencer (93) – linebacker DeMarcus Ware (94) – defensive tackle Jason Hatcher (97) – linebacker Bruce Carter (54) – nose tackle Jay Ratliff (90) and cornerback Brandon Carr (39) on the line of scrimmage before a play during the game against the Cleveland Browns at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys beat the Browns 23-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Defensive Line

Roster Spots: 8

Depth:  Shallow

 

DeMarcus Ware

Anthony Spencer

Jay Ratliff

Jason Hatcher

Sean Lissemore

Kyle Wilber

Ben Bass

(Player yet to be acquired)

The Cowboys are very talented on the edges with Ware and Spencer but they are severly lacking girth in the middle. Ratliff and Lissemore have been out most of training camp and will need to get back into game shape quickly if they want to make an impact in Week 1.

The Cowboys will be very vulnerable against the run in 2013. Monte Kiffin is playing a 1-gap penetrating defense which asks players to “Play the run on the way to playing the pass”. This is very dangerous and will result in many big days for opposing RBs. Not to blame Kiffin – given his roster he doesn’t really have a choice. He’s merely playing to his player strengths. I expect the Cowboys to add a big bodied DT after week 1 of the season to help stop the run and assist as a 1-technique tackle in the 4th quarters.

Position: Special Teams

Roster Spots: 3

Depth: Adequate

 

Dan Bailey

Chris Jones

LP Ladouceur

No-brainer here.

Offense

 

Position: Quarterback

Roster Spots: 2

Depth: Shallow

 

Tony Romo

Kyle Orton

Nick Stephens isn’t an option and Alex Tanney did little to justify a roster spot. At some point the Cowboys need to dedicate some time to developing young talent behind Romo at the QB position but this is clearly not the year. With so many other roster needs the Cowboys cannot afford to carry 3 QBs even if one of them did justify it.

Nov 22, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar (25) and Phillip Tanner (34) on the field before the game against the Washington Redskins on Thanksgiving at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Running Back

Roster Spots: 4

Depth:  Moderately Deep

 

DeMarco Murray

Lance Dunbar

Philip Tanner

Joseph Randle

Because of DeMarco’s durability concerns, Randle’s underwhelming performance, and Lance Dunbar’s recent injury, the Cowboys will need to keep more running backs than they originally intended.  Dunbar provides a great change of pace and after having a really good training camp, has earned his spot. Tanner has been a hard worker and runs with passion (he will need that passion running behind this O-line). Randle has been disappointing but his pass protection and draft status secure his spot. The Cowboys will go deep at RB which means they will have to make sacrifices elsewhere.

Jul 22, 2013; Oxnard, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Anthony Armstrong (13) catches a pass at training camp at the River Ridge Fields. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Receiver

Roster Spots: 6

Depth:  Moderately Deep

 

Dez Bryant

Miles Austin

Dwayne Harris

Terrance Williams

Anthony Armstrong

Cole Beasley

Early in the preseason I discussed the depth at receiver for the Cowboys and indicated they will be forced to make some tough roster decisions when they make their final cuts.

Well, the pack has separated and those decisions aren’t as difficult to make as it once looked…

The top 4 are obvious so the only choices to make were for the last 2 spots on the depth chart. The Cowboys were never planning to keep more than 6 so the extra RB will not impact the WR position. Beasley has a great connection with Romo and a knack for getting open and free in space. It makes up for his lack of contribution on Special Teams. Armstrong is great on special teams and could step in at any moment to replace Bryant or Austin on the outside. He is a seasoned veteran with big-time speed. Armstrong is a no-brainer at this point.

The Cowboys should be able to stash Eric Rogers, Danny Coale, and/or Jared Green on the practice squad for added depth

August 13, 2012; Oakland, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive back Brandon Underwood (28) tackle Dallas Cowboys tight end James Hanna (84) during the second quarter at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Tight End

Roster Spots: 4

Depth:  Deep

 

Jason Witten

James Hanna

Gavin Escobar

Dante Rosario

With the new focus on 12 and 13 personnel, the Cowboys wanted to keep 5 TEs on the roster for proper depth but are unable to do so with the extra RB on the roster. The top 4 TEs have distanced themselves far enough away from their competition making the personnel decisions at TE fairly obvious.

Position: Offensive Line

Roster Spots: 9

Depth:  Dangerously Shallow

Nov 22, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Bill Callahan (center) with the offensive line during the game against the Washington Redskins during a game on Thanksgiving at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

 

Tyron Smith

Travis Frederick

Doug Free

Ronald Leary

Phil Costa

Mackenzy Bernadeau

Nate Livings

Jermey Parnell

(Player yet to be acquired)

The Cowboys have 8 offensive linemen from camp make the final cut and they will keep a keen eye on other teams as they make their roster cuts. Expect the Cowboys to bring in someone new to add to this dangerously shallow depth.

David Arkin could hold down a roster spot for a couple days but he doesn’t have a future on this team. The Cowboys MUST find help on the Offensive Line and that help is not currently on this roster.

Final Thoughts

I believe the Cowboys will make one round of cuts based on their current roster and then add as many as 3 more players from other NFL team cuts around the league. The Cowboys are very thin at DT, OL, and Safety and will be able to find some depth up-grades after cuts.

As always, injuries will play a part in who stays and who goes too. An injury at guard could impact how many WRs are kept because keeping an extra guy at one position steals a guy from somewhere else.

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