Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Meet The 2015 Cowboys


Somewhere along the lines, the idea of a college team releasing its first depth chart became a thing.  I suppose it is largely because - unlike the NFL - the college preseason is not a public event, complete with preseason games and completely open and covered training camp practice sessions.
The media waits on pins and needles to see who the coach will line up where.  Who has been give the #1 spot at WR?  How do they stack the corners?
In the NFL, there is no such drama, since we have pretty much seen it all decided in public.  The depth chart is more of a reference tool for those who may not make it their living, rather than an unveiling of information now that the answers have been discovered and the mysteries unraveled.
For the Cowboys, seldom has a year been as predictable as this one.  When the final cuts came down on Saturday, there was hardly a single surprise revealed from what was expected on Wednesday when I last tried to predict the final 53.
Since then, they did cut players #53 (DE Lavar Edwards) and #52 (LB Jasper Brinkley) to make room for acquisitions RB Christine Michael and T Jordan Mills.  We will look at those below.
First, here is the at depth chart #1 as the Cowboys begin Week 1 work this morning and begin to install their game-plan for the Sunday Night affair with the New York Giants:
PositionStarterBackup3rd/4th String
QBTony RomoBrandon Weeden 
RBJoseph RandleDarren McFaddenLance Dunbar, Christine Michael
FBTyler Clutts  
TEJason WittenGavin EscobarJames Hanna, Geoff Swaim
WRDez BryantCole BeasleyLucky Whitehead
WRTerrance WilliamsDevin Street 
LTTyron SmithJordan Mills 
LGRon LearyLa'el Collins 
CTravis FrederickMackenzy Bernadeau 
RGZack Martin  
RTDoug FreeDarrion Weems 
PositionStarterBackup3rd/4th String
LDEDeMarcus LawrenceRyan Russell 
DT 3Tyrone CrawfordJack CrawfordDavon Coleman
DT 1Nick HaydenTerrell McClainKen Bishop
RDEJeremy MinceyRandy Gregory(Greg Hardy - suspended)
WLBSean LeeDamien Wilson 
MLBAnthony HitchensAndrew Gachkar(Rolando McClain - suspended)
SLBKyle WilberKeith Smith 
CBBrandon CarrTyler PatmonCorey White
FSJJ WilcoxJeff Heath 
SSBarry ChurchDanny McCray 
CBMorris ClaiborneByron Jones 
KDan Bailey
PChris Jones
LSLP Ladouceur
So there they are - your 2015 Dallas Cowboys (for now).
Let's visit about the 2 players that have been added over the weekend and see what we can learn from those 2 moves:
RB Christine Michael - This former 2nd round pick in the 2013 draft was acquired from Seattle when the Seahawks decided they would rather have Fred Jackson moving forward.  That left the Cowboys with a chance to go get a player with a tremendous amount of ability, but has many wondering if he will ever be able to harness that and become the pro that many think he can.
However, make no mistake, he has plenty of ability, plenty of potential, and right now fills an obvious void when it comes to the question of how the Cowboys plan on getting tough yards this year.  Joseph Randle looks capable on 1st and 2nd down, Darren McFadden seems a reasonable 2nd, but who is going to go get 3rd and 1?  4th and Goal?  And who is the likely battering ram to bring home a 4-minute drill to kill off a game?  Nobody on the roster until this deal.
I am not sure how soon we will see him get a lot of responsibility, but I think the acquisition matches the public view of this group and how they needed that guy for the tough yards.  Why didn't Seattle want him?  Well, if you have Marshawn Lynch, you aren't lacking for a "tough yards guy", so the Cowboys and Seahawks have different needs.  And Michael might have been a discard for the team that has been to back to back Super Bowls, but the former Aggie is going to have a chance to get his career going here.  At first it will likely be the smaller morsels of short yardage, but if he can take that and run with it, I think the sky is the limit.
T Jordan Mills - The Cowboys claimed Mills off of Waivers as the Bears decided to say goodbye to their starting right tackle in 2013 and 2014.  He was a 5th round pick in 2013 and started every game that he was healthy throughout his career, but that might have been more of a telling revelation about the Bears roster, rather than a testament to Mills' quality.  Mills has real issues in pass protection, and doesn't seem like a player who should be starting in the NFL.  That said, the Cowboys don't want him to do that and were merely looking for an upgrade for their internal candidates for that "swing tackle" spot.  They had Laurence Gibson and Darrion Weems and knew that neither was ideal.  They also knew that they didn't want to ask La'El Collins or Zack Martin to play tackle if they were in a pinch, so they go file a claim on Mills to take that 3rd tackle spot.
Mills will have 4 weeks to prove he is better than Weems, and if he does, you can assume Weems will be gone to make room for either Rolando McClain or Greg Hardy when their suspensions end.  I assume the Cowboys fully expect that is a mere formality, but that is a guess.  I will further assume that the other spot to go (if everything else remains the same) would be the 6th Defensive Tackle.  They don't need 6 players inside, especially since Ryan Russell and Greg Hardy can play DT as well, so they technically have 8 DTs on their roster.
It is a very talented roster with several players listed as reserves who are either previous starters (Mills, Bernadeau, McFadden) or projected starters in the future (Gregory, Jones, Collins).
And now, it is time to get to work on the New York Giants.

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