Cowboys depth chart 2021: Dallas’ projected starters for Week 1 with the preseason concluded

It is time to get right down to brass tacks within the NFL. The 2021 preseason is formally over and the Dallas Cowboys have been one among solely two groups who had 4 video games in August to guage expertise, and so they’re hoping the added contest — i.e., the Corridor of Fame Recreation in opposition to the Pittsburgh Steelers — will assist them enter the common season with essentially the most sharpened roster attainable, led by the return of two-time Professional Bowl quarterback Dak Prescott. They’ve till Tuesday, Sept. 1 at 4 p.m. ET to slash the roster from 80 males right down to solely 53, and which means it is time for lots of uncomfortable conversations and hard choices because the deadline speeds towards them.

So who stays and who goes? Effectively, earlier than we get into that (you have in all probability already peeked anyway), it is key to notice the Cowboys presently have three gamers nonetheless on the COVID/Reserve record — CeeDee Lamb, Carlos Watkins and Connor Williams — who will not depend in opposition to the 53-man roster, however who’re scheduled to be activated earlier than the crew begins training to tackle Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That technically permits for 3 further seats to make use of briefly by Dallas, ought to they wish to get artistic with the forming of their depth chart.

In different phrases, there is not any such factor as a “remaining” roster within the NFL

You will see gamers on the 53-man depend come Tuesday night who’ll head to injured reserve on Wednesday, liberating up these seats as effectively for brand spanking new additions and/or re-adding acquainted faces to the lively roster. Three gamers are anticipated to maneuver to IR after having been carried on the lively roster for twenty-four hours — as a result of anybody positioned on IR previous to cutdowns will not be allowed to return for 2021, per NFL guidelines, i.e., Rico Dowdle (RB), Mitch Hyatt (OT), Reggie Robinson II (CB), Sewo Olonilua (FB). So you’ll be able to anticipate to see Neville Gallimore (DT), Sean McKeon (TE) and rookie Josh Ball (OT) to outlive roster cuts solely to be moved shortly thereafter, which permits every to return from their respective damage early within the common season. 

These three gamers (and any sooner or later) can return to observe after three weeks and the Cowboys have 21 days to put them again on the lively roster — opening a six-week window for every. Moreover, there isn’t any restrict to the variety of gamers a crew can return from IR, so long as these gamers have been first on the lively common season roster. Lastly, because it pertains to anybody on the 16-man observe squad, they’re allowed to be activated thrice through the season, and so they’ll revert again to the observe squad robotically after the primary two events, however revert to waivers (if not a vested veteran) after the third call-up.

OK, that is the roster science going into 2021, now let’s lay out the projected depth chart in Dallas.

[*denotes player heading to IR after cutdowns]

[**denotes player who could take seat of IR-destined player]


Rush to Judgement

Essentially the most notable change right here from pre-training camp predictions is on the function of backup quarterback. To now, it has been Garrett Gilbert’s job to lose, and he principally did effectively in maintaining it in his pocket. That was till Cooper Rush did very effectively in opposition to the identical Arizona Cardinals that Gilbert struggled in opposition to, which gave the Cowboys the explanation they have been searching for to revert again to their former undrafted free agent from 2017. Rush did not get a lot work within the preseason finale and was unimpressive when he did, whereas Gilbert performed effectively, however it feels just like the crew is now snug leaning on Rush whereas figuring out they’ll possible stash Gilbert on the observe squad. 

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The lack of Dowdle to season-ending IR was fairly the blow to the RB depth chart, however it opened the door for Ralston to make the crew, very similar to how the lack of McKeon will accomplish that for Jeremy Sprinkle — the latter prone to be added again to the lively roster after McKeon is moved to IR. As for the offensive line, it could behoove the Cowboys to see what’s on the market concerning backup deal with, no less than till Ball is able to be a part of the fray. With 31 different groups dropping gamers, there can be choices to analyze, and Dallas must go full Dick Tracy in attempting to see what enhancements might be made at that place behind Tyron Smith and La’el Collins.

Oh and, as soon as once more, for many who willfully ignored the calligraphy on the wall between January and now:

Prescott is certainly again and prepared for Week 1.


Defensive driving

Issues did not go as deliberate for promising third-round decide Chauncey Golston, who stays on the PUP (bodily unable to carry out) record and can stay there to begin the season. He’ll then be held to the identical timeframe as gamers being moved to IR after the roster deadline, however his absence in camp and preseason — together with the damage to Gallimore — gave fellow rookie third-round decide Osa Odighizuwa an opportunity to step in and step up; and that is exactly what he did. Odighizuwa is now a lock to make the roster, and whereas many questioned if Armstrong would, I projected in June that he would. One sturdy camp and spectacular preseason later, pencil him in as effectively, as he readies to attempt to escape in a contract yr.

And talking of a contract yr, a number of on this defensive depth chart are both working in a single or may very well be (ahem, Jaylon Smith) if they do not carry out effectively. There is a ton to show for those who’re a player on the Cowboys protection, from the unleashing of Randy Gregory to gamers like Kazee and Hooker attempting to work their manner again to prime kind from season-ending accidents suffered in 2020, and much in-between. Additionally, I projected Carter to indicate his worth this offseason and he is completed that in a serious manner, making it troublesome to fathom a Cowboys depth chart that does not embody him, and particularly on a line of defense that’s absent Golston, Gallimore and Trysten Hill (who will even begin the season on PUP). 

If Carter retains going at this price, and as soon as Golston and Gallimore are returned, the dialog on Hill as a result of intriguing. As for the promise of Bradlee Anae, it feels just like the crew will first attempt to see if they’ll transfer him in a commerce and, if not, hope so as to add him again to the observe squad for a second consecutive season.

The secondary appears as anticipated general, however time will inform if Brown — like Jaylon Smith — ultimately turns into a commerce piece.

Particular groups 

Snap, crackle and pop

It’s a new era on Cowboys special teams, due to the molding of it by John “Bones” Fassel. This season will see legendary lengthy snapper L.P. Ladouceur surprisingly changed by Jake McQuaide — a Professional Bowler in his personal proper — whereas Chris Jones is replaced with Bryan Anger, who ultimately changed Hunter Niswander at punter. McQuaide joins Zuerlein in being a carryover from Fassel’s days with the Los Angeles Rams, and the Cowboys are banking on all three making noise as soon as the suitable milk is poured. Do not rule out a attainable transfer of some kind, although, with Fassel maintaining his eye on punter Johnny Hekker in Los Angeles, sources telling CBS Sports activities. That may apparent create a little bit of a shakeup, however Fassel has made it clear he is a coach who prefers to have “his guys”.

Apply squad candidates

There are a lot of that can be high quality sufficient to get a search for the Cowboys observe squad, and listed below are some who’ll possible get a primary look because the crew tries to flesh out the unit forward of the Week 1 opener in opposition to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, together with a notable like Isaac Alarcon — who made nice strides however one the Cowboys also can keep it up the observe squad (to start the season) with out having to depend him in opposition to the 16-man unit. And because of a brand new IPP rule for 2021, Alarcon can be activated to the roster at any time, giving the Cowboys loads of flexibility in how they handle him in opposition to their O-line wants. 



This record is not all-encompassing, however slightly an inventory of in-house gamers who may get further consideration by the Cowboys, whereas leaving loads of room for buying launched gamers from different groups. In chopping down the roster to 53 gamers, there’ll inevitably be a number of powerful choices to make, however they need to be made, and it is on the gamers to make a robust case in June, July and August to not be let out forward of September by throwing each proverbial haymaker they’ll as they battle for his or her future with the Cowboys and NFL as a complete.

Ring the bell. | Cowboys depth chart 2021: Dallas’ projected starters for Week 1 with the preseason concluded


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