I began tracking this several years ago, but I thought I would share it with you; It is a chart of how the Cowboys Final 53 looks for the last 5 years based on the final cuts. It is not perfect, because there is never a "final" roster. You will hear it this year that after they get down to 53, they still aren't done. There are moves they want to make based on other cuts from other teams and then someone who made the Cowboys 53 will not have actually made it. Truly, a proper front office never has a finished roster.
But, this will give you an idea of what the guys in the War-Room are thinking when they have 90 bodies in training camp. These are the numbers they have to get to for the final cut-down by position. You will also note that when you add one in one place (a 3rd QB, a kick-off specialist) then you are short somewhere else. And somewhere else always seems to be someone on special teams.
On Tuesday, August 28th, each team must reduce their number to 80 men, then by Sunday, September 2, they must get down to 53. That final number is now 17 days away, so let's look at what the Cowboys have done since 2007, and then from that we will try to select our 1st draft of the 53.
2007: 26 Offense/24 Defense/3 Specialist
2008: 25 Offense/25 Defense/3 Specialist
2009: 25 Offense/24 Defense/4 Specialist
2010: 25 Offense/25 Defense/3 Specialist
2011: 26 Offense/23 Defense/4 Specialist
Sources: Archer 2008 , Archer 2007 , MacMahon 2009, Archer 2010, and Watkins 2011.
OK, with this information available and with our eye-ball tests at both camp and the first game in Oakland, let's get the Cowboys down to 53. I will be the first to admit that I expect to do this 2 more times, with adjustments to this list each time. Keep in mind that this has nothing to do with the additional 8 man practice squad, since those players are all subject to being snagged by the 31 other franchises. If you truly believe you have a gem, then you must put him on the 53.
Let's run through the roster quickly by position. As we get closer, we will do more elaboration. But for today, I think these are the 53 who would make it as of today.
Quarterbacks (2): Tony Romo, Kyle Orton - I just don't see carrying a 3rd at this point. I think Stephen McGee was a worthwhile prospect, but in his 4th camp he is hanging by a thread.
Running Backs (4): DeMarco Murray, Felix Jones, Phillip Tanner, Lawrence Vickers - There is a chance a 5th can make it, but it will be strictly on special teams. That is why the next 2 games will be absolutely vital to track who is covering kicks and punts.
Wide Receivers (6): Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Andre Holmes, Dwayne Harris, Danny Coale, Kevin Ogletree - Before I am sent all of the Cole Beasley/Danny Coale emails, just know that this has more to do with potential and upside than what we have seen in 2 weeks. But, Beasley can still impact this race and Coale must get on the field and start proving his worth. As for Harris and Ogletree, this is another spot where special teams could decide things and one of those 2 might be the guy to go if the Cowboys wish to keep Cole and Coale. Ogletree has simply never been much of a special teams contributor. There is a lot of work to do in this category.
Tight Ends (3): Jason Witten, John Phillips, James Hanna - Clearly, the injury to Witten could really affect things here, but for now, let's go with this. They really are crossing their fingers on this one.
Offensive Line (10): Tyron Smith, Doug Free, Nate Livings, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Phil Costa, Ronald Leary, Jermey Parnell, Pat McQuistan, David Arkin, Derrick Dockery - Please don't think that I believe these 10 are all worthy of making the squad, but several near the end of the list make the squad because there is nobody better behind them. Kevin Kowalski could push Arkin or Dockery off the list, but he would need to appear on the field first. Also, when you find 10, you have to make sure at least 4 are tackles. That is not easy, either.
Defensive Line (7): Jay Ratliff, Jason Hatcher, Kenyon Coleman, Sean Lissemore, Tyrone Crawford, Josh Brent, Marcus Spears - I think Spears could lose a battle to a prospect, but that prospect will need to emerge even more over the next 2 weeks. I am no longer holding my breath on Clifton Geathers, but Ben Bass and Robert Calloway are worth watching in the next few weeks.
Line Backers (9): DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Dan Conner, Victor Butler, Kyle Wilbur, Alex Albright, Adrian Hamilton - I assume that they wil have to figure out a way to find a spot for Adrian Hamilton and maybe Caleb McSurdy (edit: McSurdy is out for a while with what appears to be a significant achilles injury on Wednesday) or Orie Lemon, but this is the first draft, so I wanted to build a realistic view with how it looks right now. For Hamilton or Lemon, they will require being a pillar on all 4 special teams.
Defensive Backs (9): Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick, Morris Claiborne, Mike Jenkins, Barry Church, Gerald Sensabaugh, Danny McCray, Matt Johnson, CJ Wilson - Again, Johnson needs to get healthy and win that job, but I like him to win it. I think Wilson gets the final spot with Church no longer available for all of the special teams jobs with him starting now.
Specialists (3): Dan Bailey, LP Ladouceur, Chris Jones
Last 5 to make the cut for me: Spears, Hamilton, Wilson, Coale, Ogletree
Players 54-60: Kowalski, Beasley, McSurdy (IR), Williams, Butler, Dunbar, Olawale
We will do this again in a week. Let's see how things change in that time.