Ranking the Cowboys as season starts
The Dallas Cowboys are coming off a 6-10 season in which their defense ranked 31st in scoring. There was only one big change on defense, however, with Rob Ryan taking over as coordinator.
The offense underwent big changes. The entire right side of the line is gone and there is a new starter at running back and one of the wide receiver positions. The Cowboys got younger, but does it necessarily mean they got better?
We rank the roster heading into the 2011 season.
2011 Cowboys 53-Man Roster Player Rankings
DeMarcus Ware (left) and Jay Ratliff are considered elite players at their positions, with Tony Romo moving toward that level if he pushes his team into a deep playoff run. Orlando Scandrick and Felix Jones were tremendous in training camp and the preseason, and their stock has never been higher. Kyle Kosier's leadership and abilities are vastly underrated.
Abram Elam (left) and Kenyon Coleman make their first appearances in our rankings. Coleman took over the starting job at defensive end for Igor Olshansky, and Elam is the calming presence in the secondary. Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins enter the regular season coming off injuries, and how they play in the opener could dictate how the season goes for them. Anthony Spencer is slipping and needs to get better quickly.
Gerald Sensabaugh (left) is doing a nice job of playing the ball in coverage, yet the team wants to see more from him. Bill Nagy moved up the depth chart with a solid preseason and will start at left guard. Backup guard Derrick Dockery has more experience than the man he displaced, Montrae Holland, but didn't fit in the zone blocking scheme in Washington.
DeMarco Murray (left) could move up the rankings with a strong start, but don't count out Tashard Choice, who also looked good during his brief appearances in training camp. Phil Costa is the starting center and will get tested fast against the New York Jets' front. David Buehler survived the kicking battle but you get the feeling it's not over.
Stephen McGee (left) is the best of this group, but he won't get much playing time as long as Jon Kitna and Tony Romo stay healthy. Clifton Geathers is highly thought of but he's going to be inactive most Sundays due to the number of defensive linemen. The Cowboys will juggle the bottom of the roster for upgrades at some backup spots.
Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.