Highlighting Dallas Cowboys' Deepest, Thinnest Positions Ahead of 2014 Season
The Dallas Cowboys are far from finalizing their final roster, but it's clear which positions need the least and most amount of work during training camp.
As has been the case the past several seasons, the Dallas offense is loaded with talent while the defense needs improvement at some key spots. There are plenty of roster questions left to iron out over the next few months.
There is still a good deal of time for Dallas to put together the best roster it can before the 2014 season. Here's a look at which roster positions could use the most attention and which are the deepest as of now.
Deep: Tight End
Tight end is one of the team's deepest positions, if not the deepest and most stable on the Cowboys roster.
Jason Witten is a future Pro Football Hall of Famer. Gavin Escobar is a player still looking to make his mark in the NFL after being drafted in the second round in the 2013 draft. James Hanna has proven himself to be a solid backup who can both block and catch when called upon to do either.
When you look around the league, there are certainly teams with more impressive tight end depth charts than Dallas, but not many.
Witten recorded eight touchdowns and 851 yards last season on 73 receptions. While Escobar didn't see much playing time in his rookie year, he did bring in two touchdowns and caught nine of the 15 targets he received. Hanna dropped just three passes last year and proved to be a sufficient blocker.
There isn't much buzz around the Cowboys' tight end position heading into training camp, but that's not a bad thing. That's because the team realizes it has little to worry about when it comes to the three players set to fill this depth chart.
Thin: Running Back
Despite the career-high numbers that DeMarco Murray put up last season, he still proved to be injury prone. The Cowboys starter missed two games last year due to injury and has never played a full 16-game season in his three years in the NFL.
Even without participating in all of Dallas' games last year, Murray was able to tally 1,121 yards and nine touchdowns. He's a fine starter, but the Cowboys don't have any great insurance policies in case he goes down yet again.
Lance Dunbar has impressed at times when given an opportunity. He turned the heads of many on Thanksgiving Day last year when he recorded 82 yards on 12 carries against Oakland before suffering a season-ending injury.
Second-year player Joseph Randle did not exactly shine in the same way Dunbar did last season. The then-rookie was easy for defenders to bring down, and he had a hard time making an impact on the ground. Randle's less than stellar 2013 could be part of the reason the Cowboys signed former Cardinal Ryan Williams this offseason.
Williams was selected 38th overall by the Cardinals in the 2011 NFL draft but injuries have limited him to just five career appearances.
Dallas' backfield depth chart is far from finalized, but as of now it's full of either inexperience or injury concerns. Those are not the kind of terms that a head coach wants a crucial offensive position to have associated with it.
The Cowboys don't have Richard Sherman or Darrelle Revis on their roster, but that doesn't make their cornerback depth chart any less solid.
Orlando Scandrick was a 2013 Pro Bowl snub after posting 12 pass defenses, two sacks, a forced fumble and 64 tackles. His hard work might not have earned him a trip to Hawaii, but it did move him up to the team's No. 2 cornerback slot.
Even though Morris Claiborne hasn't lived up to his first-round draft status just yet, he is still young at 24 years old and had a decent rookie year in 2012. The LSU product posted 55 tackles and eight pass defenses in 2012 before his sophomore slump last season. There is still plenty of time for Claiborne to become the corner Dallas drafted him to be.
The unquestioned top player at this position for the Cowboys is Brandon Carr, who has recorded six interceptions and more than 120 tackles since joining the team in 2012.
Like teammate Claiborne, he didn't exactly have a great 2013, but his talent hasn't gone anywhere. Dallas has more than a few corners who need to live up to their potential next season. It's that same potential many of these players possess. However, that makes cornerback a deep position, at least on paper.
It should be no surprise to Cowboys fans that the safety position is featured in this piece. Safety is arguably the team's thinnest position when it comes to talent and production.
Barry Church is a fine starter, but alongside him are the likes of Jeff Heath, Matt Johnson, J.J. Wilcox and Jakar Hamilton. Heath, Wilcox and Hamilton are all entering their second NFL season, and Johnson has never played in a regular-season game due to injuries.
The Cowboys have nothing but unproven options outside of Church, who is not exactly Ed Reed in his prime. The team isn't thin from a body-count standpoint when it comes to safety, but it is thin from a production one.
None of these players have more than four years of experience in the league, let alone a Pro Bowl appearance. Safety is easily the Cowboys' weakest position heading into the 2014 season.