Dallas Cowboys 2011 53-Man Roster Prediction: Will Olshansky Get Cut?

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Dallas Cowboys 2011 53-Man Roster Prediction: Will Olshansky Get Cut?
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

With roster cuts on the way, I wanted to take a final stab at the Cowboys’ 53-man roster.  There are a lot of tough decisions for Jason Garrett this season, making the 53-man roster even tougher to project than in other years. Garrett has already shown the ability to make gutsy calls, sitting or cutting underperforming players. The release of Andre Gurode was a recent surprise. Don’t be shocked to see more unconventional moves in the next few days.

 

QB

1. Tony Romo
2. Jon Kitna
3. Stephen McGee

Analysis: This is one of the few positions which is easy to predict.  Romo, Kitna and McGee will enter the season as the Cowboys’ three quarterbacks. McGee has improved tremendously this preseason, capped off with a 21-for-25 performance last night. He has convinced me he is, at worst, the backup quarterback of the future in Dallas.

 

RB

1. Felix Jones
2. Tashard Choice
3. DeMarco Murray
4. Phillip Tanner

Analysis: Felix Jones is the clear cut No. 1 back, and for good reason.  Expect Garrett to utilize Jones far more this season, as the tailback is physically and mentally prepared for a heavy workload.

With Murray and Tanner’s lack of experience, I think you’ll see Choice stay on the team.  It doesn’t appear as though he will be traded, and you can’t release a player who projects to be your No. 2 running back (to start the season, anyway). Choice’s possible increase in touches would justify his lack of special teams play.

Jerry Jones recently stated Tanner is a lock to make the roster, and that’s the right move.  If the ‘Boys placed him on the practice squad, he would be picked up in a heartbeat.  There is only a slight chance that the Cowboys enter the season with a running back combination different from this one.

Here is my Running Back Training Camp Battle article.

 

FB

1. Shaun Chapas

Analysis: This position is perhaps the most difficult to predict this season. You could make a case for Chapas, Chris Gronkowski and Jason Pociask. Gronkowski has experience in the offense and offers some value as a receiver out of the backfield. Pociask gives the team flexibility with his ability to play on offense and defense, and we know Garrett values versatility quite a bit.  Still, I think Chapas will be the guy to do his lead-blocking ability and the fact that Dallas spent a draft pick on him.

 

TE

1. Jason Witten
2. Martellus Bennett
3. John Phillips

Analysis: The two questions here are 1. Has Martin Rucker done enough to make the roster? and 2. Will Phillips overtake Bennett as the No. 2 tight end? I vote no to both. Rucker doesn’t offer enough upside to keep a fourth tight end, and Bennett is still one of the most underrated players on the team. In my 2010 Tight End Grades, I once again showed how effective he is as a blocker. I actually think he’s superior to Witten in that department.

WR

1. Miles Austin
2. Dez Bryant
3. Kevin Ogletree
4. Dwayne Harris
5. Jesse Holley

Analysis: Austin and Bryant are options 1A and 1B this season. I think you’ll see them receive a similar number of targets. Ogletree and Harris are battling for slot receiver duties. I think Garrett will side with the veteran to begin the season, but I predict Harris will overtake him as some point this year. The fifth receiver spot is still up in the air. Promising undrafted rookie Raymond Radway may have had a legitimate shot at making the team before breaking his leg last night. I think Holley’s evolution as a pass-catcher and added special teams value has his roster spot safe.

 

OT

1. Doug Free
2. Tyron Smith
3. Jermey Parnell
4. Sam Young

Analysis: Free and Smith are obviously locks. Parnell has surprised me in the preseason, and I’m surprised more people aren’t talking about him. I think he deserves to be the primary backup offensive tackle.  He has played on the left side so far, but he would probably move to right tackle if either Free or Smith went down (with Smith kicking to left tackle in the event of an injury to Free).

G/C

1. Kyle Kosier
2. Phil Costa
3. Bill Nagy
4. David Arkin
5. Montrae Holland

Analysis: The first four players are secure, I think, with Holland’s competition coming primarily from center Kevin Kowalski.  Kowalski has a shot since Costa is down right now, but don’t forget Kosier can move to center. Thus, I think you’ll see the Cowboys side with Holland’s experience due to the lack thereof from Nagy and Arkin.DL

 

1. Jay Ratliff
2. Marcus Spears
3. Kenyon Coleman
4. Jason Hatcher
5. Josh Brent
6. Sean Lissemore

Analysis: The big question here is whether or not Igor Olshansky will get cut. I think it happens, although I mentioned in my Defensive End Training Camp Battle article that he could theoretically get some snaps at the nose. Nonetheless, there are cheaper options on the roster who can probably provide more pressure than Olshansky, including Lissemore and even Clifton Geathers. I think you’ll see Dallas try to sneak Geathers onto the practice squad, though.

OLB

1. DeMarcus Ware
2. Anthony Spencer
3. Victor Butler
4. Alex Albright

Analysis: Will the Cowboys cut Brandon Williams? He has underperformed, and Rob Ryan has no loyalty to him, so it looks likely at this point. The only thing Williams has going for him is the lack of sensational prospects behind him, but I still think Albright offers more upside. Will Butler push Spencer for the starting job? Either way, expect Butler to play more snaps.

 

ILB

1. Bradie James
2. Sean Lee
3. Keith Brooking
4. Kenwin Cummings

Analysis: The only thing saving Brooking, in my opinion, is the fact that rookie Bruce Carter will start the season on PUP. Otherwise, I think you’d see the veteran get released. Cummings will probably beat out Orie Lemon for the final inside linebacker spot since the latter player has a hamstring injury.

CB

1. Mike Jenkins
2. Terence Newman
3. Orlando Scandrick
4. Bryan McCann
5. Josh Thomas
6. Mario Butler

Analysis: Most people have Alan Ball making the team due to his ability to play both cornerback and safety, but what is the point of retaining versatility if it comes in the form of a player who is mediocre at both positions? Ball might be superior to Thomas and Butler right now, but he offers much less upside.

Thomas and Butler are far from locks, however. Thomas has been dealing with a hamstring injury, and Butler’s undrafted status means the Cowboys won’t feel like they “wasted” a draft pick if they cut him (although picks are already sunk costs and should really have no bearing on future decisions, in my opinion). Either way, I think six cornerbacks will make the roster due to the abundance of ailments affecting the players at the position.

 

S

1. Gerald Sensabaugh
2. Abram Elam
3. Barry Church
4. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah

Analysis: This position is very hard to project after Sensy and Elam. Church and AOA are battling Danny McCray and Andrew Sendejo for the final two roster spots, although five safeties could make the team. In my opinion, Church is safe due to better performance at the safety position than the other three. McCray and Sendejo offer special teams ability, and the value of Owusu-Ansah’s return skills is diminished with plenty of other return men on the squad. Still, I’m just not sure Dallas is ready to give up on him, although I may just be naive due to my fascination with AOA.  Sendejo is practice squad material.

 

Specialists

1. Mat McBriar
2. L.P. Ladouceur
3. Shayne Graham
4. David Buehler

Analysis: This won’t be popular to most of you, but I think there’s a legitimate shot the Cowboys keep two kickers. Garnering touchbacks is more valuable than most realize, and Buehler is the only kicker on the roster who can do that on a consistent basis. Unfortunately, he can’t kick straight...kind of a big deal for a placekicker. Graham, Dave Rayner and Dan Bailey are all battling to kick field goals.  It would be tough to enter the season with a rookie kicker, and Rayner may have blown his shot with an 0-for-2 performance last night.  Thus, I think Graham is the guy.

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