- Todd Archer, ESPN Staff Writer
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IRVING, Texas – With one rookie minicamp down, 10 organize team activity practices over and the mandatory minicamp starting Tuesday, what better time is there to take an early look at the Cowboys’ 53-man roster?
Tim MacMahon put together his first projection on May 1, so we bring you the second round here:
The Cowboys would like to keep a third quarterback, but there isn't one on the current roster worth keeping. They could look for a younger arm to keep after cuts with Orton’s cap number moving to $4.37 million next year.
RUNNING BACKS (4)
I thought Tanner would be the odd man out, but he has had a strong offseason. The job is not a lock. I believe Kendial Lawrence could give him a run for his money in camp and in the preseason games. The Cowboys really like Dunbar as a third-down back and he could be a pleasant surprise after showing well last year as an undrafted free agent. Lawrence Vickers has to get healthy after back surgery, but the writing appears to be on the wall because of the next position you’ll read about.
TIGHT ENDS (4)
The need for more of a blocking tight end remains, but with the heavy two-tight end sets that are expected, the Cowboys have to go with four tight ends. Rosario has experience and can play some special teams. Hanna has had a good offseason and will be part of packages during the year, even with Escobar being picked in the second round.
WIDE RECEIVERS (5)
Really thought about going with a sixth receiver, which would be Anthony Armstrong right now. Injuries over the summer could impact the position too. Beasley had a really good week last week but he has limitations. He can be effective in the slot, which is why he is ahead of Armstrong and Jared Green. A guy to keep an eye on is Eric Rogers. He’s caught everything but just doesn’t have great speed.
OFFENSIVE LINE (10)
The first eight picks are pretty easy. The last two are a little more difficult. Kowalski got the edge over Ryan Cook only because of money. Kowalski is set to make $555,000; Cook $1.1 million. Both guys can play center and guard. Weems got the final spot for now, but I think the Cowboys will be scouting hard for players over the summer. They took Weems late last year as a project and he can still play his way into contention.
DEFENSIVE LINE (8)
I wondered whether I should go with nine linemen here, but kept it at eight. Hargrove is the most intriguing addition. He is believed to be a favorite of Rod Marinelli, so that will help his cause provided he can knock off the rust and get into better shape. Crawford and Wilber have had some good moments in the offseason.
Sims gets a spot because of his experience and versatility. He can play weakside or middle linebacker. Albright can play strongside and middle and maybe some defensive line if necessary. Holloman and Magee have to be major special teamers. I also considered Tank Reed for one of the final spots, as well as Caleb McSurdy, who could be a short-yardage fullback as well.
Moore gets the nod for the final cornerback spot, but it’s hardly a lock. Moore is helped that he can play some safety in a pinch. Brandon Underwood, Devon Smith and Xavier Brewer will be in the mix when things start to get real when the pads come on. The top four corners are set, and don’t expect Webb to push Scandrick out just yet.
McCray has been the team’s best special teamer, but at $1.3 million that could be a little pricey in the Cowboys' eyes. Allen is guaranteed $620,000 this year, so he sticks but will have to hold off Johnson for a starting spot. With Allen nursing a hamstring strain, Johnson has worked with the first team and done a decent job. Wilcox has shown he will be around the ball but there is a lot for him to learn.
No surprises here. The best thing the Cowboys can do in camp is keep them fresh.