Cowboys Camp Opens; 55-Man Roster Projections - Offense
FRISCO - The Dallas Cowboys open up their NFL training camp this week in its most "full'' form, in the sense that all players are scheduled to report. COVID-19 makes things less "full''; we're told the team won't even practice together on the field and in pads until mid-August. But it's still a perfect time to take a stab at the 55-man roster decisions ... with the offense here. ...
(Sidebar: This year NFL teams will, as usual, cut to 53 first. But the change in the CBA will then allow the eventual carrying of 55. So we'll use that number.)
RELATED: Cowboys Camp Opens: Top 10 Questions
QUARTERBACK (3): With new coach Mike McCarthy in charge, Dallas can still become QB-development-heavy ... an important step in Dak Prescott's career.
Prescott will play on the tag. Andy Dalton is No. 2. Clayton Thorson and seventh-round pick Ben DiNucci will compete for a backup job. The edge? Know this: DiNucci has an advocate in the new head coach.
RUNNING BACK (3): Ezekiel Elliott is in charge. Tony Pollard is locked in behind him as the multi-faceted helper. Jamize Olawale is the incumbent fullback - but does the new administration value him? A fourth spot? Darius Anderson (TCU) and Rico Dowdle (South Carolina) each got $110,000 to sign here as UDFAs. We know some in the personnel department who like Anderson’s potential ...
But we're keeping DiNucci and think that might squeeze Dallas down to just three runners. (Maybe an 11th DB would be the squeeze-out option instead.)
WIDE RECEIVER (6): The top three guys - Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and first-round rookie CeeDee Lamb - give Dallas a shot at being all-time elite here.
It’s a scramble after that, though, for as many as three more slots.
Devin Smith is the one with some pedigree. Cedrick Wilson was penciled in as the slot guy pre-CeeDee. And Ventell Bryant can play special teams. Every year around here there is a spring-time receiver who flashes. ... like Jon'Vea Johnson (presently on the new Reserve/COVID-19 list) did last year (and could again?), and like UDFA Kendrick Rogers might this time around.
TIGHT END (3): The Cowboys have three kids in Cole Hikutini (practice squad) and UDFAs Sean McKeon (Michigan) and Charlie Taumoepeau (Portland State). But the post-Witten roster trio seems pretty clear.
OFFENSIVE LINE (9): The Cowboys have Zack Martin at right guard and Tyron Smith and La’el Collins at the tackles - locked-in studs. But competition abounds beyond that.
Connor Williams, Connor McGovern and Joe Looney top the depth chart. But would Williams be best at center? If he gets beat out at guard by McGovern, could Williams be a backup at all five spots, including swing tackle? Is rookie Tyler Biadasz anywhere near ready to compete for the starting center job?
And then there is a second level of competition. Dallas feels it lucked into UDFA Mitch Hyatt last year (or, at least it did last year). And the previous staff sure liked Brandon Knight’s toughness. But Cam Irving is in so one of them is out. That’s nine names. More than enough.