The Cowboys take on the Texans in their fifth and final preseason game tonight. Most of the starters won’t play, so this is a great opportunity to predict which backups and bubble players will make the final roster. Here’s who I’ll be watching.
S Jeff Heath
Heath has showed flashes of play-making ability, but is it enough to keep him on the roster? At this point, we know Barry Church, Will Allen, and J.J. Wilcox are locks. That means Heath is basically battling Eric Frampton, Danny McCray, Matt Johnson, and Micah Pellerin for presumably two roster spots. In reality, it might come down to Heath versus Johnson, who at some point just has to stay on the field.
RB Joseph Randle
Randle has averaged just 3.7 YPC through four preseason games. Some people on the Cowboys rave about the rookie, but I think he’s going to have a difficult time in the NFL. If he’s going to make it, Randle will need to become a dominant receiver and improve in pass protection. That’s really where he can make his mark, so let’s keep an eye out for Randle in the passing game.
DE George Selvie
Selvie has racked up three sacks this preseason, but he’s also been inconsistent at times. I think the defensive end with the 34.5-inch arms has a really good shot to stick, but he has to show more durability in the running game.
RT Jermey Parnell
Parnell is the starting right tackle for now while Doug Free is inside at guard, but he might still see time tonight against the Texans since he hasn’t played much this year. Last year, Parnell allowed pressure on 4.0 percent of his pass protection snaps—not an elite rate, but the best of any tackle on the team—and Cowboys backs averaged 5.06 YPC when running behind Parnell. I love Parnell’s athleticism and I think he’s the right man for the job, but we really need to see a lot more of him to get a better sense of his ceiling.
TE Gavin Escobar
Given how James Hanna has played, there’s still a shot that Escobar can win No. 2 tight end duties. I don’t think he deserves it given that he’s probably been even worse than Hanna as a run blocker, but the Cowboys will probably favor their second-round pick in the event of a tie. Escobar could really help his case by proving he can be a reliable red zone threat.
Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.