Aug 9, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive end Jason Hatcher (97) on the sideline during the game against the Oakland Raiders at O.Co Coliseum. The Oakland Raiders defeated the Dallas Cowboys 19-17. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboy Roster Cuts Today: Projected 53 man Roster


Aug 17, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett on the sidelines during the second half against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Cowboys 12-7. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Today at 4pm ET the Dallas Cowboys must bring their roster down to 75. That means cuts are on the way. Even surviving today’s cuts doesn’t guarantee a regular season roster spot since next week the Cowboys must drop from 75 to 53. These are some pretty substantial cuts we will witness over the next few weeks as roster trimming requirements pick up.

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 53-man roster for the Dallas Cowboys 2013 season.

Offense

Position: Quarterback

Roster Spots: 2

Depth: Shallow

Tony Romo

Kyle Orton

No big surprise here. The Cowboys are known for going thin at QB and Nick Stephens and Alex Tanney did little to change anyone’s minds. 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 just cannot afford to carry 3 QBs.

Aug 4, 2013; Canton, OH, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar (25) runs the ball in the first quarter of the 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame game against the Miami Dolphins at Fawcett Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-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 running with passion (he will need that passion running behind this O-line). Randle has been disappointing but his pass blocking and draft status secure his spot. The Cowboys will go deep at RB which means they will have to make sacrifices elsewhere.

Dec 2, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receivers Dez Bryant (88) and Cole Beasley (11) talk before the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys beat the Eagles 38-33. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Receiver

Roster Spots: 6

Depth:  Moderately Deep

Dez Bryant

Miles Austin

Dwayne Harris

Terrance Williams

Anthony Armstrong

Cole Beasley

This has been set for a while now. 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 inability to play Special Teams. Armstrong is great on special teams and could step in at any moment to replace Bryant or Austin. 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

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.

December 11, 2011; Landover, MD, USA; New England Patriots guard Brian Waters (54) lines up against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Offensive Line

Roster Spots: 9

Depth:  Dangerously Shallow

Tyron Smith

Travis Frederick

Doug Free

Ronald Leary

Phil Costa

Mackenzy Bernadeau

Nate Livings

Jermey Parnell

(Player yet to be acquired)

While the Cowboys have 8 offensive linemen from camp make the final cut, they will keep a keen eye on other teams as they make roster cuts.

Expect the Cowboys to bring in someone new to add to this dangerously shallow depth.

Weems or Arkin could hold down a roster spot for a couple days but they don’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. If a starter like Brian Waters is acquired expect the Cowboys to cut Nate Livings. He actually will cost more to cut than to keep but at this point he’s just dead weight anyway.

 

Defense

Position: Linebacker

Roster Spots: 6

Depth: Deep

Sean Lee

Bruce Carter

Justin Durant

Ernie Sims

DeVonte Holloman

Brandon Magee

With two starters showing a propensity to injury it’s difficult to consider the linebacker position as “deep”, but against my 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.

Caleb McSurdy will be tough to cut ties with because he’s a valuable Special Teams player and provides depth to a position occupied by a player who requires depth. With the problems at safety the Cowboys will opt for an extra body in the secondary than here at LB.

Jul 21, 2013; Oxnard, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys safety Micah Pellerin (31) at training camp at the River Ridge Fields. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Cornerback

Roster Spots: 6

Depth:  Moderate

Brandon Carr

Morris Claiborne

Orlando Scandrick

Sterling Moore

BW Webb

Micah Pellerin

The top spots are all obvious with debatable spots being Sterling Moore and Micah Pellerin. Pellerin is a Sport DFW favorite who flashes loads of potential. He has some of the best ball skills on the team. He’s a born playmaker and a special teams contributor. The best part is, much like Sterling Moore, he can play free safety in a pinch.

Position: Safety

Roster Spots: 5

Depth:  Dangerously Thin

Barry Church

Will Allen

JJ Wilcox

Matt Johnson

Danny McCray

Eric Frampton was good on Special Teams last season but since he’s been hurt – he’s expendable. McCray provides similar special team skills and he’s been healthy. Neither are very good at safety so it’d be tough to see both make the roster. Matt Johnson is doing what he does best  – being injured.

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.

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 severely 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. Nick Hayden has looked good so chances are the Cowboys will initially keep him and then look to replace him with another team’s camp casualty.

 

Position: Special Teams

Roster Spots: 3

Depth: Adequate

Dan Bailey

Chris Jones

LP Ladouceur

No-brainer here.

Final Thoughts

I believe the Cowboys will make one round of cuts based on their current competition on the 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 LB could impact how many CBs are kept because keeping an extra guy at one position steals a guy from somewhere else.

The madness begins today….

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