Initial Post-Draft Depth Chart for Dallas Cowboys
The 2014 NFL draft was an exhilarating show to say the least. Although there is still plenty of speculation to be had, some teams are feeling optimistic heading into the new season.
One of those teams has to be the Dallas Cowboys. With a roster built to win now, Jerry Jones and his group of scouts did well to improve the team this weekend.
Now it’s only May, but it’s never too early to start examining the Cowboys roster. Let’s take a look at Dallas’ post-draft depth chart and how the rookie class fits in.
Even though the Cowboys didn’t pull the trigger on Johnny Manziel, or draft any quarterback in this year’s draft, there is still plenty to discuss.
Tony Romo is the clear No. 1 and will be for as long as his health permits. He’s the best option the Cowboys have (even if they drafted Manziel) and is one of the better quarterbacks in the league.
Behind him is a little more uncertain. Kyle Orton is unsure what his future holds, as he debates retirement. This explains the additions of Brandon Weeden and Caleb Hanie. Both quarterbacks have the potential to be a long-term backup, but I think only one will make the team.
Tyler Clutts (FB)
Dallas is pretty set at the running back position despite not addressing it in the draft. DeMarco Murray is a solid first option and is on the cusp of truly breaking out in 2014.
With no more Phillip Tanner, Lance Dunbar has sole possession of the backup role, and it should be fairly extensive. Last year, he showed impressive playmaking ability and will get more touches because of it.
Second-year Joseph Randle didn’t have an opportunity to show much in his rookie year, but he should have a chance this summer. He will probably have a limited role again as a reserve unless one of the top two suffer an injury.
Tyler Clutts is on the roster as the lone fullback. If they decide to keep that position, he’s the man, but that remains a question mark.
Dallas usually carries four backs, but I don’t see that necessary this season with how it's utilized them in the past. The group here should be plenty for an entire year.
Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams
An offensive position the Cowboys did select in the draft was wide receiver. In the fifth round, Dallas took Pitt’s Devin Street to compete for the No. 3 spot.
Pro Bowler Dez Bryant is among the elite receivers in the NFL, and Terrance Williams showed he will be an impact player.
With Miles Austin gone to free agency, Street will battle with Cole Beasley and Dwayne Harris to see the field. These five players provide the offense with a lot of variety and skilled athletes.
It’s difficult to predict how many receivers Jones will keep, but guys like Tim Benford and Jamar Newsome, who were on the practice squad, head the group to fill out the roster.
Dallas has had one of the most productive tight end units in recent years thanks to the consistency of Jason Witten. In spite of having a slower year statistically in 2013, there’s no reason to be down on the veteran.
There’s a lot of potential behind him in the depth chart too. Gavin Escobar was basically non-existent last year, but the second-round pick should be more involved in this year’s game plan.
James Hanna has the chance to be the second option if he can turn heads in camp. He’s got the frame to be a red-zone target and could be one for years if he wins the spot.
Tyron Smith, Ronald Leary, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, Doug Free
The Cowboys devoted their first overall pick on Notre Dame’s Zack Martin. The offensive lineman has been called extremely versatile and can play multiple positions along the front. He’s an instant upgrade no matter where the coaches choose to put him.
I can see the Cowboys eventually moving him to the right tackle spot, but maybe not quite yet.
Pro Bowler Tyron Smith will anchor Romo’s blind side and next to him will either be Ronald Leary or Mackenzy Bernadeau. Those two will be the battle to watch this summer to earn the starting guard spot.
Second-year Travis Frederick looks to be more than solid, and with the intelligent Martin lining up at the right guard, Dallas’ line is all of the sudden strong. Doug Free rounds out the starting five at right tackle. Depending on how quickly the rookie adjusts, Free and Martin could be swapping positions sooner than later.
George Selvie, Henry Melton, Nick Hayden, Anthony Spencer
Signings in free agency and a second-round pick have Dallas’ defensive line re-tooled for the 2014 season. The re-signing of veteran Anthony Spencer, paired with the arrival of free agent Henry Melton, gives the Cowboys more than a formidable front if each plays up to his potential.
Rookie Demarcus Lawrence looks like he will be someone offenses fear in the near future, but I don’t think he starts immediately. Give me George Selvie and Spencer on the outside, with Melton and Nick Hayden starting in the middle.
Lawrence will be a consistent rotator and potential starter determined by Spencer’s health. Terrell McClain will do the same at defensive tackle. There’s also plenty of depth compiled of a mix of veterans like Jeremy Mincey and youngsters like Tyrone Crawford.
DeVonte Holloman, Sean Lee, Bruce Carter
The Cowboys will be looking for a better year from their linebacking corps. Injuries plagued the unit who will have high expectations for the new season.
Sean Lee is a phenomenal talent; he just needs to stay on the field. Bruce Carter is the other solidified starter on the weak side.
The final starting spot will be established this summer in the competition between Justin Durant and DeVonte Holloman. I think Holloman makes enough strides to win the spot.
The team has more depth here in 2014 as well. Durant will be coming off the bench along with Cameron Lawrence and rookie Anthony Hitchens.
Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne
Another underachieving unit on Rod Marinelli’s defense is the cornerbacks. This crew will look very similar to last year’s roster with only one new face among them.
Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne are the top starters despite neither playing particularly well. Orlando Scandrick has become a legitimate player and could move up in the ranks if Carr or Claiborne falters.
Sterling Moore and B.W. Webb fill out the remainder of the corners who will see playing time. Both are still young and have time to get better.
Terrance Mitchell was a seventh-round draft choice and will most likely have to make the squad as a special teams player.
Barry Church, J.J. Wilcox
Dallas chose not to address safety in this year’s draft because of its trust in the players already on the roster. The most important of those being J.J. Wilcox, who’s expected to start heading into 2014.
The other starter will be Barry Church at the free safety. Church had an incredible 2013 and was one of the best players on the defense.
Jeff Heath and Matt Johnson will be vying for the No. 3 spot, while Jakar Hamilton and rookie Ahmad Dixon will fight for No. 4. Johnson has the most buzz around him because of where Dallas drafted him (fourth round). This may very well be his last chance to have an impact since he hasn’t seen the field in his pro career yet.
Dan Bailey, Chris Jones, L.P. Ladouceur
The special teams will be the same as it has the past few years. Dallas signed both Dan Bailey and Chris Jones this offseason to remain the kicker and punter, respectively. L.P. Ladouceur will continue to be the long snapper.
Bailey’s proven himself to be one of the better kickers in the NFL, and Jones is a decent punter averaging 45 yards per punt.