Dallas Cowboys 53-man roster prediction: 2021 post-draft edition

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Dallas Cowboys 53-man roster prediction DL, LB

The Dallas Cowboys injected a ton of new blood into their defense in the draft and it’s going to be imposible to keep them all. This makes the fact they used all of their picks a curious one since they could have packaged a few to move up for someone of higher quality. But that’s in the past…

Defensive Line (11)

DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, Neville Gallimore, Brent Urban, Dorance Armstrong, Bradley Anae, Chauncey Golston, Osa Odighizuwa, Trysten Hill, Quinton Bahanna, Ron’Dell Carter

Since there’s a little overlap between defensive end and designated pass rusher, l ‘m going to try to keep things simple and keep the traditional edge players  here on the D-line group and the traditional linebackers over in the LB group.

The first four above are my projected starters. Gregory and Tank are expected to have big seasons here in 2021 and it wouldn’t be shocking to see double-digit sacks from both. The inside will be a heavy rotation of Urban and Woods at 1-tech and Gallimore and Oddighizuwa at 3-tech.  Quinton and Trysten will be the prospects behind the top-4 and will probably not be heavily used.

On the edge we have Dorance, Anae, and Golston keeping the starters fresh.  Tarell Basham is an underrated player that we shouldn’t sleep on and Justin Hamilton is someone who they’d have no problem keeping if injuries befell the interior unit. Ron’Dell is who I’m sneaking on as a developmental edge/3-tech. I think he’ll be a fun toy for Dan Quinn to play with.

Linebacker (6)

Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, Micah Parsons, Jabril Cox, Francis Bernard, Keanu Neal

Jaylon is probably playing his last season in Dallas. Unless he absolutely stuns us with his play, the writing is the wall for the expensive veteran. Things are even bleaker for LVE. Even if the injury prone player bounces back and plays well all season long, can he really be trusted to do it again?

The future is likely Micah Parsons and Jabril Cox. Parsons could see heavy snaps on the line rushing the passer (we hope) while Cox should see majority of his time on passing downs. Cox is one of the best coverage LBs to enter the NFL while Parsons is one of the most athletic marvels in the NFL.

Keanu Neal was Dallas’ big free agent pickup this offseason. He’s a former first round safety who’ll be making a move to play WILL. How many snaps he gets is anyone’s guess. McCarthy again verified he’ll be more linebacker than safety so the position group appears to be a crowded one. Another reason it would be nice to see Parsons playing heavily as a DPI (designated pass rusher).

Barnard is a fun prospect who just needs an opportunity. His speed limitations will cap his ceiling, but the guy could prove to be a good situational weapon. Luke Gifford misses the cut here. My pet cat from 2019 couldn’t make that next step in 2020. Given the numbers jam and after popping positive for PEDs, it’s tough to see Gifford making the team again.