Friday, September 01, 2017

The Morning After: My 53-Man Projected Roster

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett talks to the team after practice during training camp at The Star in Frisco on Monday, August 28, 2017. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News)
Vernon Bryant/Staff Photographer
Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett talks to the team after practice during training camp at The Star in Frisco on Monday, August 28, 2017. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News)
Sometimes when you write a piece about the Dallas Cowboys, you hope it is something that is relevant enough to be bookmarked for a few weeks.  Other times - like this morning - you write something that you know will possibly be outdated by lunchtime.
This is one of those moments.  I was given the task to put together my 53-man roster, even though the real one could be out today or early tomorrow.  
The Cowboys roster is, as usual in recent years, a bit complex because of suspensions and pending suspensions.  But since the Cowboys have to deal with them, so do I.
OK.  So, suspensions we know: David Irving and Damontre Moore.  Suspensions we might have to deal with: Ezekiel Elliott.  Also, Nolan Carroll and Damien Wilson could have earned a suspension that has yet to be issued.  
Injuries are also on the table - but, I assume Anthony Hitchens is the only IR candidate.  He might miss less than 2 months, but now that you can bring 2 players back, I would imagine he is one of them "designated to return."

It seems like putting this roster together was really easy this year, to be honest.  The Cowboys lost some players from their 13-3 season, but they also filled each spot man-for-man in the draft, so to find the 53 players for these jobs wasn't too difficult.  Of course, if I have 8 of these names wrong, you can have a laugh at this missed attempt.     
So, let's look at my 53-man roster on the morning of September 1st:
Initially, I have gone with 26 on offense and 24 on defense with 3 specialists:
They never go with 26 on offense, but because several of these offensive players are technically "special teams" aces and due to the suspensions, I think they will start 26/24 and then move to 25/25 or even 24/26 by the end of the suspensions.  
But, for now, 26 on offense and 24 on defense:

And then here is the chart that demonstrates how many the team has put at each positional group on this day over the last decade:


Please don't get too concerned about Jaylon Smith starting over Justin Durant.  I listed them as I see them when Jaylon is fully fit.  He is clearly the better player, but Durant will likely start at first.  Either way, they both are safely on the team, of course.
I also assume now that it is virtually assured that Elliott will play in Week 1, so I didn't worry about his spot.  If they have to shed a RB for numbers, I think Alfred Morris will be their choice.  
When we left for California, I wrote that the Cowboys know about 50 of the 53 spots already.  I believe that is true because there are only names - Cooper Rush and Lewis Neal - who I never thought a month ago would make the roster.  A fine job by both of them to make this team.  Now, it is up to both of them to take advantage of it because when it is time to free up spots when the suspensions end, those will be the most likely names they look at.  
Also, we should list the toughest cuts and the most likely candidates for the practice squad.
Andy Jones, Uzoma Nwachukwu, Lance Lenoir, Emmitt Cleary, Nate Theaker, Joey Ivie, Jordan Carroll, Joseph Jones, Lenny Jones, Marquez White, Jameill Showers, and Duke Thomas will be on the list as potential practice squad players if they can clear waivers. 
Now, like I said, in just a few hours, this list will not be very relevant, but then we can break down the moves that they have actually made.  Most importantly, we should keep in mind that the Cowboys can and will add up to 3 names from other team's cuts.  Linebacker seems to be a real position where they can add moving forward.
Let's see what the next 48 hours brings (especially in news from New York City) before we assume the roster on Monday is the final 53 to face Week 1.

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