Dallas Cowboys: Predicting the 53-man roster (don’t be surprised if…)

May 12, 2017; Frisco, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett during rookie minicamp at The Star at Cowboys World Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
May 12, 2017; Frisco, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett during rookie minicamp at The Star at Cowboys World Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dallas Cowboys have now completed the draft and gotten through the majority of free agency. With the roster roughly complete, who is going to make the final 53?

Let’s be clear, much is yet to happen for the Dallas Cowboys this offseason. Some players will impress and others will disappoint. Add in a few injuries of varying degrees and you have an ever-changing depth chart between now and the start of the 2017 regular season.

But where do we stand now, and given the information at hand, what can we expect? Expect surprises…

Quarterback (2)

Dak Prescott

Kellen Moore

I just can’t envision anyone else making the final 53. Dak Prescott is built like a house and nowhere near the injury risk Tony Romo was for so many years. And Kellen Moore is a coach-favorite who is an asset on the sideline and in the film room.

Running Back (4)

Ezekiel Elliott

Darren McFadden

Keith Smith

Jahad Thomas

Even though I believe Alfred Morris is still a better fit for this team as a lead back, McFadden is the better backup and that’s the role one of these guys has to fill. Behind McFadden will be a change-of-pace back like Jahad Thomas to effectively replace Lance Dunbar. The big selling point for Thomas over Morris is youth and punt/kick return duty. Keith Smith once again secures occasional fullback duties.

Tight End (3)

Jason Witten

Geoff Swaim

Rico Gathers

If everyone is healthy this is going to be a tough decision. In the end the Dallas Cowboys will need to decide between Geoff Swaim and James Hanna. Swaim is younger, has better upside, and cheaper. Cutting Hanna will free up $1.5M.

Receiver (5)

Dez Bryant

Terrance Williams

Cole Beasley

Ryan Switzer

Brice Butler

I love the potential that Noah Brown gives but I just don’t see him staying healthy and beating Butler out in training camp. I predict Butler will take that next step and be well worth the 1-year/$1.1M contract he’s playing for. Brown will get stashed on the practice squad and make the 53-man roster in 2018. Brown will essentially follow Rico Gather’s path to the roster.

Offensive Line (9)

Tyron Smith

Travis Frederick

Zack Martin

La’el Collins

Jonathan Cooper

Chaz Green

Byron Bell

Nate Theaker

Joe Looney

The biggest surprise here is Nate Theaker making the team as a reserve interior linemen. Theaker is a player I targeted for the Cowboys on my second mock draft because of his ability to play every position on the line. He’s a jack-of-all trades that should be a game active backup.

Related Story: How the Cowboys Will Use Their New Weapon

Defensive Line (10)

Tyrone Crawford

DeMarcus Lawrence

Taco Charlton

David Irving

Maliek Collins

Cedric Thornton

Charles Tapper

Benson Mayowa

Demontre Moore

Lenny Jones

Despite being a recent signing, I don’t think Stephen Paea will make the cut. The Cowboys already have a defensive tackle that can only play the 1-technique in Cedric Thronton and his contract makes him difficult to cut. Paea counts $2M against the cap if he makes the team and $1M if he doesn’t. Not chump change but digestible.

Lenny Jones is probably the biggest surprise. He’s new to the game but is supremely athletic and may be a dynamic pass-rush specialist. He’s going to surprise.

Linebackers (6)

Sean Lee

Jaylon Smith

Anthony Hitchens

Kyle Wilber

Mark Nzeocha

Damien Wilson

No surprises at linebacker. I think the Dallas Cowboys are very comfortable with what they have and are excited to see Jaylon Smith take the field as well as see the progression of Damien Wilson and Mark Nzeocha.

More from Dallas Cowboys

Cornerback (5)

Orlando Scandrick

Anthony Brown

Chidobe Awuzie

Jourdan Lewis

Nolan Carroll

Marquez White

Although I don’t think Marquez White is remotely ready to contribute at the pro level, I do think his skills and attitude are worth developing.

Safety (4)

Byron Jones

Jeff Heath

Kavon Frazier

Xavier Woods

Much like Stephen Paea, I expect Robert Blanton to be cut on year 1 of his deal. I think both were signed as insurance and both are the odd men out if everyone else makes it through training camp injury free.

Special Teams (3)

L.P. LaDouceur

Dan Bailey

Chris Jones

Next: Why Disorder on the D-Line is a Good Thing

Defensive Total: 26

Offensive Total: 24

Special Teams: 3

With or without injuries expect the Dallas Cowboys to have some surprises when final cuts are made. I think the defensive line in particular should be fun to watch given how unpredictable the situation appears to be.