Dallas Cowboys: 2014 NFL Roster Projection

Dallas Cowboys' projected roster

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
10:00
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Examining the Dallas Cowboys' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)
I'm holding firm with two quarterbacks and believe the Cowboys will be able to slide Dustin Vaughan to the practice squad. He has some skills that might be worth developing, but not even Romo's worrisome back has me keeping a third quarterback. They have too many other needs.

RUNNING BACKS (4)
Ryan Williams is among the Cowboys' best 53 players but they just can't find a way to get him to the game on Sundays to make it worthwhile to keep him on the roster. There is this possibility: If he clears waivers he has practice squad eligibilty. I kept Clutts because I believe Jason Garrett will fight to keep a fullback.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)

This has been the same group all year. LaRon Byrd has practice squad eligibility, so he could be back if he clears waivers.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

This group hasn't changed either, but they could look for more of a blocking tight end if they don't believe it is worth it to keep Clutts.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)



Stephen Jones said the other day that going with eight offensive linemen was too light, so I added a ninth. I just don't think that guy is on the roster. John Wetzel didn't solidify a spot on Thursday. Darrion Weems missed the whole preseaon. Nwaneri also struggled against the Broncos, which could put his spot in jeopardy. The Cowboys only dress seven linemen for games, so they can take some waiver-wire pickups to work with early on.

DEFENSIVE LINE (11)



Lawrence is back on the roster because he has to be on the team through Tuesday before he can be placed on short-term injured reserve. Of all the guys on the bubble Boatright helped himself the most, so gets the final spot away from Dartwan Bush. The Cowboys will look for help outside of the building with this group. Just because these guys are on the roster Saturday doesn't mean they will be on the team Sunday.

LINEBACKERS (6)

I've had seven linebackers but I had to move to six in part because Lawrence needs to be on the active roster for the first couple of days. Will Smith would be the seventh but the Cowboys look for help on the street for a special teams type like they did a year ago in Kyle Bosworth.

CORNERBACKS (5)

The decision to cut B.W. Webb was only surprising because of how inexeprienced they will be with their backups. Webb didn't do enough to make the team and was a disappointment as a fourth-round pick. Patmon is one of those feel-good stories, making the team after earning a rookie camp tryout. I don't think Mitchell should sleep well these next few days. He just has taken too many penalties and might need some practice squad seasoning.

SAFETIES (5)



The Cowboys claimed Thomas off waivers from New England on Wednesday and he played Thursday. He is a player they liked coming in the draft, so he gets the final spot with Jakar Hamilton suspended the first four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Like at every other spot on defense, however, the Cowboys will look for help outside the building.

SPECIALISTS (3)

There has not been a change here all summer.

Dallas Cowboys' projected roster

August, 25, 2014
Aug 25
8:00
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Examining the Dallas Cowboys' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)
I've had two quarterbacks on the roster from the beginning and this won't change. Dustin Vaughan will make the practice squad if/when he clears waivers. There's just too many needs elsewhere on the roster to carry a No. 3 quarterback, but Vaughan has some potential to see if he can develop.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

I know most of you are asking, 'Where is Ryan Williams?' There is no doubt he is among the top 53 players on the current roster, but that doesn't mean he earn a spot on the 53-man roster. A backup running back has to do more than just run it well. He has to play special teams and pass protect well. I've kept Clutts on the roster because I believe Jason Garrett will want the fullback on the roster, and the front office will listen to him.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)

This five has remained the same all summer and won't change. The expanded practice squads might help Jamar Newsome stick around. LaRon Byrd also has practice squad eligibility.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

This group hasn't changed either. I do wonder if they would look at more of a blocker after the final cuts, but Hanna has improved and will continue to have a role. He was on the roster bubble, in my view, at the start of camp, but I think he's earned a spot.

OFFENSIVE LINE (8)

I'm only going with eight linemen, which is kind of risky, but they will dress only seven on gameday and can stack the practice squad to help out. Nwaneri could help his cause if he could play some center, and he's taken some snaps in pre-practice there. Look for them to scout the market for tackle help too. Parnell has only been OK.

DEFENSIVE LINE (10)

Wilson re-appears on the list, but I've got to be honest I don't know if he makes it. It's just that this group needs all the help it can get. Where's DeMarcus Lawrence? I'm going to put him on injured reserve with a designation to return. Kenneth Boatright has not been as productive, but can still sneak in if Selvie's shoulder injury limits him early, especially with Spencer unlikely to be ready Week 1. Again, they'll look for help here once the cuts are final, or they could look to trade a player they would cut to another team.

LINEBACKERS (7)

The career of DeVonte Holloman will come to a close because of a neck injury, so he's been replaced by Smith. The seventh-round pick has some pop to him and can run well enough to earn some special teams time. I thought the starting linebackers would be set by now, but it's not. Do they go with McClain, Durant or Hitchens in the middle? Is Carter now a strong-side linebacker? Is Wilber more of a defensive end now?

CORNERBACKS (6)

Six corners might be a little heavy, but Patmon has done enough to make the team at a position of need with Orlando Scandrick out the first four games. Moore will work the slot, but the Cowboys need to cover themselves there, and Webb makes it due to experience. Patmon is still learning inside. I've had Mitchell on the roster the whole time, but he's peaked a little bit and could be in trouble.

SAFETIES (5)

It's the same five, but Heath (elbow) and Hamilton (hamstring) have injuries. Dixon is a thumper and not afraid. He can be a good special teamer, but he needs play smarter defensively. Could Ryan Smith work his way into this mix?

SPECIALISTS (3)

Same as it ever was.

Dallas Cowboys' projected roster

August, 18, 2014
Aug 18
8:00
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Examining the Dallas Cowboys' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)
Dustin Vaughan is making things interesting, but with so many needs at other spots, the No. 3 QB is just too much of a luxury. People were excited about Alex Tanney at this time last year, too. Right now, he's on the practice squad.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

I believe Ryan Williams and Randle serve the same roles, so it's hard to justify giving them both roster spots. Williams showed some explosion and burst late in Saturday's game. Perhaps he or Randle can drum up some trade interest when it's time for cuts. If you keep both tailbacks, then I can't see Clutts making it. With the desire to run more, Clutts makes more sense.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)

These five have remained the same all camp and will continue to remain the same. It's too difficult for Jamar Newsome, LaRon Byrd or Chris Boyd to crack the 53 right now, and the needs on defense will trump the need for a sixth receiver.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

This group remains unchanged as well. Escobar hurt his shoulder against Baltimore, but the Cowboys don't believe it's too serious. Hanna had a drop but also caught a touchdown pass in his second straight game.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)

I'm sticking with the same group, but Stephen Goodin could make his way into the mix over Nwaneri considering Nwaneri's base salary would be guaranteed for the season if he's on the roster in Week 1. I also kept Wetzel as the third tackle, but look for the Cowboys to have an eye on the waiver wire for that spot if Darrion Weems can't return soon. Like last week, I wonder if going with eight linemen for Week 1 might be appropriate.

DEFENSIVE LINE (10)

I took DeMarcus Lawrence off the roster because I'm going to place him on short-term injured reserve, which would cost him the first six games. That allows Boatright to get a spot. I chose Boatright over Martez Wilson. Where's Zach Minter? He was good against Baltimore, but I want to see more of him before he gets a spot. Remember, Josh Brent could be in this mix, too.

LINEBACKERS (7)

I'm sticking with the same seven, but Lawrence's spot is "fungible" as Jerry Jones likes to say. Maybe Will Smith gets in the mix. Maybe it allows for an 11th defensive lineman, like Minter, Wilson or a waiver pickup or trade. Holloman's neck injury could open up a spot if it's serious.

CORNERBACKS (5)

No Orlando Scandrick? Well, he's suspended the first four games, so he's out of the mix for Sept. 7 against San Francisco. Webb gets the edge because he can play the slot and the Cowboys really don't have another slot corner after Moore and Webb. The coaches continue to rave about Mitchell, but he gets beat too much for my liking. I think he's done enough to make the 53, but Tyler Patmon or Justin Green could work their way into the mix.

SAFETIES (5)

Dixon might have put himself back on the bubble by showing up late to the final walk-through in Oxnard, California, which landed him a spot on the bench for the Baltimore game. He gets the spot for now, but he is out of wiggle room. I don't see another safety making the roster, but that could open a spot for a corner if needed.

SPECIALISTS (3)

Same as it ever was.

Dallas Cowboys' projected roster

August, 11, 2014
Aug 11
8:00
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Examining the Dallas Cowboys' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)

Dustin Vaughan's performance against the San Diego Chargers has earned him some discussions about the practice squad. He has not done enough for the 53-man roster yet, but the Cowboys might have something worth developing.

RUNNING BACKS (4)


Randle took a step forward with how he played against the Chargers and not just his work as a runner. He did a decent job in pass protection and on special teams. Williams was OK, but he allowed a sack. I'm still not sold on a fullback. Clutts is the only real choice but injuries at other spots could lead to his demise.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)


These five have remained the same all camp but the Cowboys have seven receivers who can play in the league if not with the Cowboys. Injuries will play a part in if they can keep a sixth (LaRon Byrd, Chris Boyd or Jamar Newsome) but that's a luxury for a team that will have to go heavy on defense.

TIGHT ENDS (3)


This group remains unchanged as well. Maybe they look outside for some help on the waiver wire to possibly add a fourth tight end, but that's almost a luxury too.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)

If we're just going by what we see, then Wetzel deserves the third tackle spot over Darrion Weems, who has missed time with a dislocated shoulder. Wetzel isn't always pretty but he is tough, will fight and knows how to keep himself in good spots. I'm starting to wonder if I just go with eight offensive linemen, which seems light given injuries. Parnell needs to play better as well but so far his job is not in jeopardy.

DEFENSIVE LINE (10)

Spencer makes his first appearance on the 53-man roster, but that doesn't mean he will be ready for Week 1. He could be ready by Week 3, however, so stashing him on PUP for the first six weeks might not be worth it. His rehab has come along well. He takes Ben Gardner's spot. If Spencer isn't read a name to watch is Kenneth Boatright. He might not be this year's Selvie, but he has some ability that could help if Spencer is not ready early in the year.

LINEBACKER (7)

I'm going back to seven linebackers and Lawrence makes his first showing in the projections. He has improved quite a bit as a linebacker and is a trustworthy special teamer. His ceiling might be lower than a Will Smith, but this defense needs help right away. Lawrence could get them through a game whereas Smith's missed time due to injury hurts his cause. I wouldn't put McClain down as a lock yet. He needs to show up in the preseason games.

CORNERBACK (5)


I dropped Tyler Patmon from the list and part of that has to do with the safety position. I think Patmon is a guy who can get to the practice squad. B.W. Webb still has work to do. Mitchell's competitiveness is a good thing but he has to play better with his feet. He grabs too much. Having Carr back at camp is a good thing for a group that has not been 100 percent whole yet.

 

SAFETY (5)

Last week I said Dixon has to make an impression in the preseason games, and he did vs. San Diego with 12 tackles. He has a lot ot learn but he plays fast and hard. They can overlook some of his mistakes just because of his effort. Hamilton was off to a good start before he was sidetracked by a concussion. His spot is far from safe but he is an improved player.

SPECIALISTS (3)


No change here. Not sure there will be a change all camp.

Dallas Cowboys' projected roster

August, 4, 2014
Aug 4
8:00
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Examining the Dallas Cowboys' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)

If the Cowboys are going to keep a third quarterback, he's not on the current roster with the way Caleb Hanie has performed. Dustin Vaughan could be a practice squad candidate depending on how he performs in his preseason work. Romo has been limited in camp but everybody continues to say he is 100 percent. When he has practiced, he's looked like the same quarterback: quick decisions, good accuracy. Weeden will get his fair share of preseason work as well.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

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  • DeMarco Murray
  • Lance Dunbar
  • Joseph Randle
  • Tyler Clutts

No changes in the running back group, but the No. 3 battle between Randle and Ryan Williams will come down to the preseason. Could the Cowboys go with four tailbacks and no fullbacks? Could they go with six wide receivers? If so, that could put Clutts' job in jeopardy.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)


These five remain unchanged, but LaRon Byrd has put himself into the mix and his seeing time with the regulars in sub packages. He can make contested catches but is not the fastest. What can he contribute on special teams? If it's little, then the Cowboys won't keep him. Williams has had a consistent camp and there should be no worries about him at the No. 2 spot.

TIGHT ENDS (3)


No changes with this group. Witten is still the lead dog and having a good camp. There was a thought Escobar would be a clear No. 2 choice but that hasn't really emerged yet. Hanna is doing some good work on the line, which is an area in which Escobar struggles.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)

Weems suffered a dislocated shoulder that will keep him out of at least one preseason game. The fourth tackle right now would be John Wetzel, who spent some time on the practice squad. Parnell has improved in the last week of camp. Leary is now back to practice after being kept out with a hamstring injury, but Bernadeau continues to work with the first team.

DEFENSIVE LINE (10)

Nick Hayden makes his first appearance on the 53-man projection and he probably should have been here sooner. The loss of Lawrence (foot) for at least three to six regular-season games is a blow and leaves the Cowboys a little light at end. Anthony Spencer is progressing nicely in his comeback from microfracture surgery but Week 1 might be pushing it, so he remains on the physically unable to perform list and not on the 53-man roster. Gardner will have to start practicing soon or he could be pushed out.

LINEBACKER (6)

I carried seven linebackers on the first two projections but Smith is falling behind because of an injury. There is not a linebacker to put in his place just yet, so that's why there will be six corners on the 53. It will be interesting to see how McClain works in during the preseason. He has slowly gotten some work with the first team in the last week.

CORNERBACK (6)


I decided to add another corner in part because there is not another linebacker on the roster and in part because I didn't want to add another defensive lineman. Patmon gets into the mix over B.W. Webb but his spot is far from secure. Webb has shown up a little more lately but he has bouts of poor play, too.

SAFETY (5)

Same guys here but Dixon has to make an impression in the preseason games. It's been a slow start to practice for him. Matt Johnson suffered another hamstring injury, which would seem to doom his chances. Wilcox remains the starter and has not really been pushed early in camp.

SPECIALISTS (3)


No change here. Not sure there will be a change all camp.

Dallas Cowboys' projected roster

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
8:00
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Examining the Dallas Cowboys' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)


Romo's health will be something that will be monitored throughout camp and perhaps it could force the Cowboys to carry a third quarterback on the 53-man roster as insurance. That would benefit Caleb Hanie, who joined the team in April, or undrafted rooke Dustin Vaughan. The Cowboys haven't kept three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster since 2011, but they don't want to get caught needing a quarterback if something were to happen to Romo and Weeden had to start. For now, however, the plan is to stick with two on the 53.

RUNNING BACKS (4)



Murray had a fumble on his second carry of team drills, but ball security has not been an issue for him in his career. Dunbar has shown up well. Randle's vision and quick feet give him an edge, to me, in this system. He makes it to the hole quicker than Ryan Williams, who is built a little more powerfully. Both players will have to work on pass protection. The fullback role remains in Clutts' possession. It's been too early to see much from the fullbacks.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)


These five remain unchanged, but Jamar Newsome bears some watching as camp goes on. He looks the part. He has decent speed and he has decent hands. It will be interesting to see how he handles the preseason games.

TIGHT ENDS (3)



The Cowboys added Dallas Walker before coming to camp, but he is more about saving the legs of the top three guys. There is a clear gap from Hanna and Walker and Jordan Najvar. I believe the Cowboys will still be looking for more of a blocker as camp goes on.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)


Nwaneri takes the final spot over Brian Clarke from the first projection to open camp. This will likely flip flop throughout camp and the preseason. A lot of it will depend on injuries among the top eight linemen and cost. If a younger player emerges, like Clarke or Ronald Patrick, then they could win that last spot. Leary is battling a hamstring strain that has kept him out the first few days of camp, so Bernadeau is getting the jump on the left guard position with the first team.

DEFENSIVE LINE (10)

Sticking with the same 10 players for now. Gardner injured his shoulder in the first practice and could need some time to heal before he gets back to practice. That could hurt his chances and help somebody like a Ben Bass or Caesar Rayford. Coleman could be the latest of the Cowboys' undrafted finds. He is active but before we get too carried away we need to see how he performs against better than backup competition.

LINEBACKER (7)

I don't like carrying seven linebackers right now, but I'm sticking with it. McClain took second-team middle linebacker snaps, which was surprising considering he was not with the club in the offseason. The Cowboys will give him every chance to show his potential and are hoping the talent is there. He made a tackle on his first snap in team run drills, shaking off a block and bringing down the runner.

CORNERBACK (5)


Carr has not been at camp as he tended to his ailing mother. Claiborne came out as fired up as he had been in his first two years on the first practice. He knows the importance of the season. For now I've got five corners, but I'm going to look to see if it is worth keeping a sixth. Tyler Patmon and B.W. Webb would be in that mix.

SAFETY (5)

Dixon gets the final spot, but he would be out if I do go with six corners for the next projection. And he also needs to watch undrafted rookie Ryan Smith. He's splitting time on the third team with Dixon right now. This spot won't shake out until the preseason ends.

SPECIALISTS (3)


No change here. Not sure there will be a change all camp.

Dallas Cowboys' projected roster

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
11:00
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Examining the Dallas Cowboys' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)

The Kyle Orton watch is over now that the Cowboys released the veteran backup. The timing of it is a surprise, and Jason Garrett spoke optimistically all offseason about Orton’s return. Now the Cowboys turn their attention to Weeden as Romo’s backup. Weeden had a productive spring, running the first-team offense as Romo recovered from back surgery. The Cowboys haven’t kept a third quarterback since 2011, and Caleb Hanie and Dustin Vaughan will have work to do to crack the 53-man roster

RUNNING BACKS (4)


The last two spots could be up in the air. Randle, a fifth-round choice, will be pushed by free-agent pickup Ryan Williams in the preseason. Williams, a former second-round pick, was not able to stay healthy in Arizona. The Cowboys have given him a chance to win a backup job. Clutts did a nice job as a late-season pickup in 2013. He is more versatile than undrafted rookie J.C. Copeland, but I don’t think having a fullback on the 53-man roster is set in stone.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)


I debated whether to go with a sixth, but later on you will see why I stuck with five. It is possible the Cowboys will look for a veteran in the final cuts if they feel limited by their depth because of injury, but I think they like the overall group. They will work their No. 3 receiver role on a rotation basis, but Beasley could emerge as a bigger threat on third down. There will be a lot of eyes on Williams, who takes over the No. 2 role on a full-time basis. Bryant is set for another Pro Bowl-type season.

TIGHT ENDS (3)


Witten remains near the top of the game at his position. His total catches were down last year, but his touchdowns were up. Escobar’s role figures to expand, especially as a No. 3-type receiver. Hanna has the inside track on the third spot, but I have a feeling the Cowboys will be looking for more of a traditional blocker, especially if they want to get away from the fullback spot to open up a role elsewhere.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)

The top six are set, with Bernadeau or Leary fighting it out for the left guard position and the loser becoming the top backup on the interior. Parnell is in the final year of his deal, and if Weems develops, I wonder if the Cowboys would look for a trading partner. They have invested a lot in Parnell in time and money for him to be a backup, so it would be a risk, but perhaps one worth taking. Weems had a decent offseason. Clarke gets the nod as the No. 9 guy right now, but veteran Uche Nwaneri could work his way into the mix.

DEFENSIVE LINE (10)

I think the Cowboys will go heavy here, especially considering what happened last year and the numbers they have thrown at the position this year. Four of them are rookies -- Lawrence, Gardner, Bishop and Coleman. I believe Anthony Spencer and possibly Amobi Okoye will start the year on the physically unable to perform list, so they don’t make this 53-man roster with the idea that they join the team after the sixth game of the season. Wilson garnered the last spot over a 2013 starter, Nick Hayden, but there will be a few players in the mix for the final few spots, including Ben Bass.

LINEBACKER (7)

Carrying seven linebackers might be a little heavy, but I have special teams in mind when it comes to Will Smith. He benefits from having only two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. The Cowboys spent the offseason telling us games are won and lost up front, so carrying an extra offensive or defensive linemen could get in this mix as well. McClain gets a spot only because of his experience. Backups of Holloman, Hitchens and Smith would be tough considering their youth, and I can see the Cowboys looking for veteran backup help around the final cut dates.

CORNERBACK (5)


Carr and Claiborne have to play exceptionally well for this defense to have a chance, and they might have to do it without much help from a consistent pass rush. Scandrick is coming off his best season, and Claiborne will have to beat him out to reclaim the starting spot. Moore can play inside and out. Mitchell showed in his limited offseason work that he can make plays. Last year’s fourth-round pick, B.W. Webb, will have to fight for a spot. Based on his offseason work, he did not make the cut for this roster.

SAFETY (5)

Church is the only player without questions. The Cowboys are projecting the other four with their biggest bet on Wilcox. He enters camp as the starter, but he could be pushed by Heath and Hamilton. Dixon will be more of a special-teams threat if he is to make the roster. Hamilton showed some playmaking in the offseason. No Matt Johnson? Not right now, especially after he couldn’t practice -- again -- for most of the offseason.

SPECIALISTS (3)


Perhaps Cody Mandell can push Jones, but Jones is the more consistent punter and has a good rapport as a holder for Bailey. Ladouceur remains one of the best long-snappers in the game. This group won’t change during the summer unless there is an injury.

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