Predicting the Last 5 In, Last 5 out for Dallas Cowboys' Final 53-Man Roster
The Dallas Cowboys will likely have more close battles than ever to make the final 53-man roster in 2014. The team signed 24 undrafted rookies, many of whom have a legitimate shot to make the team, and only a handful of players really have a roster spot locked up.
In this slideshow, I’ll present my projections for the last five players to make the roster and the final five to be on the outside looking in. In reality, all 10 of these players are likely to find themselves on the roster bubble, with the chances of making the team probably near a coin flip for most.
No. 5 In: WR Chris Boyd
In any other year, I’d argue that undrafted wide receiver Chris Boyd would be a near lock to make the final roster. The Cowboys don’t have proven depth at the position, and he has a lot to offer as a 6’4”, 205-pound wide receiver.
However, he will need to compete with fifth-round pick Devin Street and fellow undrafted free agent L’Damian Washington. When you consider that Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley and Dwayne Harris are all probable to make the team, there’s not a ton of room left.
Nonetheless, Boyd has enough upside to stick around.
No. 4 In: S Jeff Heath
The Cowboys don’t have much experience at the safety position, but they do have a lot of participants: Barry Church, Ahmad Dixon, Jakar Hamilton, Matt Johnson and J.J. Wilcox, among others. Heath played really poorly last year, so he’s going to need a quality showing to make the team in 2014.
I’m tentatively penciling him in for a roster spot because (1) his struggles came as a young player and (2) he’s highly athletic. At 6’1”, 209 pounds with 4.49 speed, according to NFL Draft Scout, Heath is a semi-uncommon physical specimen very much on par with Matt Johnson in terms of pure athleticism.
No. 3 In: FB J.C. Copeland
Rookie fullback J.C. Copeland is competing with fellow fullback Tyler Clutts for a roster spot. I fully expect the Cowboys to prefer Copeland over Clutts as a lead-blocking specialist, but it’s not a given that the ‘Boys will keep a fullback.
Dallas could retain a versatile blocking tight end who can act as a fullback in certain situations, which would free up a roster spot so they wouldn't even need to keep a player like Copeland.
Due to the importance of blocking in short-yardage situations, though, I’m projecting Copeland to be on the inside looking out.
No. 2 In: S Ahmad Dixon
Although the Cowboys drafted safety Ahmad Dixon, it’s not a given that he makes the final roster at such a crowded position. In terms of athleticism, he’s not one of the Cowboys’ top talents.
I think the ‘Boys are going to retain a lot of safety help, though, just because the lack of experience at the position means they need to play a numbers game. Basically, they should be looking to keep as many lottery tickets as possible and just hope that one of them pans out.
Last Player In: WR L’Damian Washington
I already have Boyd in, so it might be a surprise to see wide receiver L’Damian Washington on this list as well. I’m not entirely sure how the Cowboys are going to do it—we might even need to see fifth-rounder Devin Street on the practice squad—but somehow, someway, I think Dallas will find a way to keep as many of their talented young receivers as they can.
I expect both Washington and Boyd to outplay Street in camp.
No. 5 Out: P Chris Jones
This one might not be all that surprising. With rookie punter Cody Mandell signed, the Cowboys are probably going to find a reason to cut veteran Chris Jones. Mandell just needs to stay even with Jones—not even outplay him—to win this job.
No. 4 Out: TE Jordan Najvar
Since I’m projecting a lot of receivers to make the team, along with fullback J.C. Copeland, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see Najvar off the roster. The Cowboys will put him on the practice squad if they let him go.
It just comes down to who can block better when the defense knows the Cowboys will be running: Najvar or Copeland. To me, it’s a one-or-the-other situation; there’s no reason to keep both players since Najvar offers next to nothing as a receiver.
No. 3 Out: S Jakar Hamilton
This is just a numbers game. With Ahmad Dixon and Jeff Heath already on the roster in this scenario, someone has to be out.
Jakar Hamilton’s best bet to make the roster is to hope for another Matt Johnson injury. That could happen pretty easily, and I think Johnson’s roster spot will be a clear black-and-white thing; either he gets hurt (and cut) or stays healthy (and presumably plays well enough to stick around).
No. 2 Out: RB Joseph Randle
Everyone knows I’m not a big fan of running back Joseph Randle. As a sub-200-pound back with poor 4.63 speed, what can he really offer Dallas?
I’d still have him making the team if it weren’t for the acquisition of veteran Ryan Williams. That addition is a pretty clear sign that Dallas realizes it made a mistake with Randle last year.
If no one gets hurt, the only way he can make the roster is if the Cowboys keep four tailbacks, or he beats out Williams. Both seem like long shots.
Last Player Out: CB B.W. Webb
Cornerbacks Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick, Morris Claiborne and Sterling Moore are going to make the team. If the Cowboys keep five cornerbacks, B.W. Webb will need to fight it out with rookie Terrance Mitchell—a very similar player, except younger and a little heavier.
I expect Mitchell to win that job.
It’s not impossible that the Cowboys could keep six cornerbacks, but it's unlikely, given the numbers they have at safety. I think they will try to keep Webb just because they don’t want to view him as a sunk cost, but ultimately, they cannot retain him unless he severely outplays Mitchell in camp.