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FRISCO, Texas – In April, nothing is really that official when comes to an NFL team.
Sure, the roster is official – but a depth chart? Good luck with that, especially considering the Cowboys are looking to draft about seven players later this month, with probably 15-20 more undrafted free agents expected to join the team as well.
But somewhere at The Star, probably on Mike McCarthy’s desk or perhaps a dry-erase board in Will McClay’s office, there is a very unofficial depth chart for the Cowboys.
We all know there will be some changes, but not too many considering the talent that’s already on the roster. To think there will be more than a handful of rookies that will leapfrog anyone on the first- or second-team is a stretch. But if it happens, it’s a good problem to have, of course.
So let’s just take a stab at what a two-deep roster would look like on offense, if the season started today, which obviously it never does.
But as the Cowboys get ready for the draft, looking at potential needs for both this season and down the line, here’s what the offense might look like for now, with a few noted exceptions.
- QB – Dak Prescott – Cooper Rush
- RB – Tony Pollard – Ronald Jones
- TE – Jake Ferguson – Peyton Hendershot
- WR – CeeDee Lamb – Simi Fehoko
- WR – Brandin Cooks – KaVontae Turpin
- WR – Michael Gallup – Jalen Tolbert
- LT – Tyler Smith – Matt Waletzko
- LG – Chuma Egoda – Matt Farniok
- C – Tyler Biadasz – Alec Lindstrom
- RG – Zack Martin – Matt Farniok
- RT – Tyron Smith – Terence Steele**
** Let’s start with the bottom row at right tackle. As we stand right now, this is how Jerry Jones made it sound when asked about Steele’s position last week at the owner’s meetings. Steele is also currently injured, rehabbing an ACL injury. The Cowboys issued a second-round restricted tender to Steele, who has yet to sign it. But it’s hard to imagine him not starting when he returns to full strength. If the Cowboys indeed have three healthy tackles in Tyler Smith, Tyron Smith and Steele, look for one of them to slide inside to a guard position. But as we sit right here, this is how it looks – knowing there will be some changes.
Other parts of the roster that weren’t easy to come up with also include the offensive line. The interior backup spots at center and guard are up in the air. Matt Farniok might actually be the best option to back up Biadasz at center, but Lindstrom is also in the picture. Farniok also has experience at guard, where he started two games at left guard last season.
Wide receiver seems rather solid at the moment with the top three. But after that, it’s anyone’s guess. Tolbert should be in the mix considering the fact he’s a third-round pick and will likely get plenty of chances to prove himself. Watch out for Turpin being more involved in the offense and a couple of players not mentioned in the list, but could factor into the competition are Brandon Smith and Dennis Houston.
At running back, Pollard is also rehabbing a couple of injuries but figures to be the starter. What happens in the draft will certainly be interesting, especially if the Cowboys take a back in the first three rounds. For now, Ronald Jones is the backup with Malik Davis and Rico Dowdle also expected to compete. But this is one position that will likely look different a month from now.
Along the same lines, tight end is also expected to get an upgrade in the draft, perhaps as high as the first round, something that hasn’t been done here in Dallas since 1997 (David LaFleur). Even if the Cowboys don’t draft a tight end in the first round, they could address the position high enough to compete with Ferguson and Hendershot.
And since we’re still early in the game and everything is subject to change, let’s remember the quarterback position last season. Had it not been for a hamstring injury in camp, Will Grier might have unseated Cooper Rush as the backup. But Rush kept the job and then went 4-1 as a starter when Dak went down. Rush is back again on a free-agent contract, but there still could be some competition there with Grier and/or a drafted quarterback if the Cowboys choose that route.