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Dallas Cowboys 53-Man Roster Projection

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Cowboys 53-Man Roster Projection

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Predicting about 40 of the Cowboys’ 53 roster spots is a piece of cake. The other 13 are one heck of a challenge, but here’s my best shot. . .

QB (2)
Tony Romo
Kyle Orton
Comment: This should be pretty straightforward; I’d be shocked if the Cowboys keep Stephen McGee or Rudy Carpenter. I’ll be even more shocked if they can somehow trade McGee.
RB (3)
DeMarco Murray
Felix Jones
Phillip Tanner
Comment: Two positions in and already our first major decision. I really like Lance Dunbar and I think he has an awesome shot at making the final roster, but it’s just a numbers game. Jamize Olawale has an outside shot as well.
FB (1)
Lawrence Vickers
Comment: The Cowboys could very well keep Shaun Chapas simply to play special teams against the Giants if Jason Witten is out. I just don’t think you can leave a worthy player off of the roster to have a guy play special teams for one game, though.
TE (3)
Jason Witten
John Phillips
James Hanna
Comment: Again, Witten’s potential absence in Week 1 could mess with some things. Andrew Szczerba has a chance to make the final roster (and probably end up getting cut after one game), but again, I don’t think you can release a talented young player to have a backup for one game.
WR (6)
Dez Bryant
Miles Austin
Kevin Ogletree
Dwayne Harris
Cole Beasley
Andre Holmes
Comment: I think the Cowboys will keep six receivers because 1) they have a bunch of young talent and 2) seven is simply too many. If they cut Danny Coale, they’ll try to sneak him onto the practice squad (likely unsuccessfully). Nonetheless, Holmes has shown too much potential to let him go. The top five are all set, in my opinion.
Offensive Line (9)
Tyron Smith
Nate Livings
Phil Costa
Mackenzy Bernadeau
Doug Free
Ronald Leary
Jermey Parnell
David Arkin
Derrick Dockery
Comment: The offensive line could really go a number of ways. The top five are set, but nothing after that is certain. The ‘Boys could easily keep anywhere from eight to 10 offensive linemen. Parnell should make it as a swing tackle, and Arkin has center/guard versatility (kind of).
A lot of people think undrafted guard Ronald Leary could get cut, but I don’t think so. I don’t think he’ll get to the practice squad, and the Cowboys obviously liked him enough to give him an enormous signing bonus. Because of his preseason struggles, though, I also have the team keeping Dockery simply for insurance purposes.
Defensive Line (7)
Jason Hatcher
Kenyon Coleman
Jay Ratliff
Sean Lissemore
Tyrone Crawford
Josh Brent
Clifton Geathers
Comment: Will the Cowboys keep both Coleman and Marcus Spears? I think one has to go, and Spears has a greater cap hit. Plus, he was outplayed by Coleman in 2011.
Two other players to consider are defensive end Ben Bass and defensive tackle Robert Callaway. Bass is probably fighting with Geathers for a roster spot, but Dallas might think they can get Bass onto the practice squad. Callaway has a real shot to at least be on the Week 1 roster because of Ratliff’s injury, but I think Lissemore’s versatility means Callaway is another practice squad candidate.
LB (10)
DeMarcus Ware
Anthony Spencer
Victor Butler
Kyle Wilber
Sean Lee
Bruce Carter
Dan Connor
Alex Albright
Adrian Hamilton
Orie Lemon
Comment: Most people don’t have the Cowboys retaining 10 linebackers. The final four names here could all go, and yes, that includes Connor. He hasn’t been great in the preseason and, if it comes down to Connor or Lemon, the Cowboys may opt for the upside of the younger linebacker. I think Carter has shown them enough to be comfortable. Nonetheless, if you can find a way to keep the sure thing in Connor without letting go of Lemon’s potential, I think that’s something you have to do.
Albright has versatility and I think he’s shown too much to pass on. A lot of people think Hamilton will be on the outside looking in, and that would be a major disappointment to me. He’s been a favorite of mine, and I just don’t think there’s any way you can pass on his pass-rushing potential. I’m also fairly confident another team will sign him if the Cowboys try to place him on the practice squad.
DB (9)
Brandon Carr
Morris Claiborne
Mike Jenkins
Orlando Scandrick
Mario Butler
Gerald Sensabaugh
Barry Church
Danny McCray
Mana Silva
Comment: The odd man out here is rookie fourth-rounder Matt Johnson. Johnson was simply never able to see much time on the field over the past few months. He could very well still make the roster because the Cowboys obviously liked him a lot in April. More likely, I think, is that Dallas will place Johnson on IR to retain him until 2013 and still get another guy on the roster.
If Johnson makes the 53-man roster, I don’t think you’ll see it come at the expense of anywhere here. Instead, you might simply see the Cowboys keep five safeties. That’s a lot, but McCray is the Cowboys’ top special teams player and Silva played very well during the preseason.
ST (3)
Dan Bailey
Chris Jones
L.P. Ladouceur
Comment: Special teams. Cool. 

Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.

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