Evaluating the Roster for 2018

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sandyf
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Evaluating the Roster for 2018

Post by sandyf » Wed Feb 07, 2018 1:00 pm

Evaluating the Roster

To begin any off season, a team evaluate who they have and who they want to keep. Some will be cap cuts, others will be because the team can find a cheaper as good backup and some will move on because they are free agents and want greener pastures.

I will try and evaluate how I see the roster and who stays, who goes and who might stay at least until training camp and/or cuts happen.

OFFENSE

Quarterbacks – Dak Prescott and Cooper Rush
The question is about the starter or really the backup, it is do the Cowboys invest in a veteran QB and keep 3 on the roster. They (Cowboys) will possibly draft one in the late rounds if someone they evaluated falls from where they thought he would go. Signing a vet this year looks pretty slim and I could see Rush being a much better option besides we do now have a QB Coach that could unretired if necessary.

Running backs – Zeke Elliott, Rod Smith, Trey Williams
Elliott is the biggest key and needs to stay healthy and off the suspended list that I believe he will and be the same guy he was in 2016 or better. Smith has proved to be a more than capable backup and should again be relief for Elliott at times. Williams is a guy I see the Cowboys counting on more than fans believe. He is small, quick, and has good speed as a change of pace type guy that will be used only on certain situations. Dallas may find a RB after the 3rd round that fits those skill sets that would challenge or take Williams place although I don’t see them carrying more than 3 RBs.

Fullback – Keith Smith
Smith has the qualities that Dallas scheme admires. He can play RB or FB or LB and is valuable on special teams. He is a RFA and will be either signed by the new NFL year or tendered with just a right of refusal. Frankly believe he comes back on a team friendly contract possibly just one year but could be a 2 year team option.

Wide Receivers – Dez Bryant, Terrence Williams, Cole Beasley, Ryan Switzer, Noah Brown, Lance Lenoir, KD Cannon, Brian Brown
Interesting group and a group that will see changes, just how many remains to be seen. Many expect Dallas to do something with Bryant from cutting him to salary cut and any of those could happen. Frankly him staying under the current structure is probably what is going to happen and then depending on how he performs would give Dallas $12 million in cap relief in 2019. Williams will be here another year as well as Switzer for the length of his contract. Brown saw more and more action and the coaches really love his blocking skills and route running so I expect him to be here. The coaches saw something in Cannon, Lenoir and B. Brown to get them to training camp. Beasley is in the last year of his contract so several options are on the table from outright cut (unlikely), contract extension (possible), to being involved in a trade (possible). Good slot receivers are always in demand. Will Dallas draft a WR is a good question and is probably a sure thing if they don’t address it in free agency. Dallas needs a WR that can stretch the field and knows how to separate. If Dallas is willing to spend in free agency for someone like Allen Robinson or Jarvis Landry although doubtful so drafting one if available seems like the safer bet. We will add a guy just when, where and who is a large question.

Tight Ends – Jason Witten, James Hanna, Geoff Swaim, Rico Gathers, Blake Jarwin
We could and will see changes in this group. Witten is still one of the best although much slower than before and with a high cap number. Hanna will be trade bait and/or cap cut to help sign someone else in free agency although doubtful a TE. Swaim had a down year by all accounts but is a very good blocking TE. Gathers is an unknown although from training camp he did look like a beast. Most forget it wasn’t just a concussion that sidelined him, it was a full facial fix needed. Dallas thought enough of Jarwin to sign him off the PS so he wouldn’t get poached so have to believe he is in the plans for 2018. Again we can forget free agency for a TE but the draft is different altogether. We talk about Dallas Geodert or Mike Andrews but I would watch for Dalton Schultz out of Stanford as a guy I see Dallas targeting in the 3rd round. He is an excellent blocker, good hands, team captain, good on the field and off, and a guy that is much like Witten.

Offensive tackles – Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, Chaz Green, Jarron Jones
Bryon Bell is a free agent and chances of resigning him are slim although possible. The swing OT is firmly up for grabs based on last season’s debacle. Smith and Collins are the starters and right now Green is a backup although maybe not for long. Jones is a future signee and no one really knows if he is player or not. Dallas may go the free agent route with someone like Cameron Fleming who can play either spot and far better than Green or Bell. The possibility exist and probably high probability of drafting a OT who they can develop. Guys like Alex Cappa or Brandon Parker in the 4th round or 4th round comp picks are probably in the mix. Also Brett Toth OT Army has all the Garrett traits and believe if he is on the board in the 7th round, he will be a Dallas pick even with his commitment to the Army for the next two years.

Offensive guards – Zack Martin, Kadeem Edwards
With only two guards under contact and one (Martin) on his final year although I expect him to be extended within the next month, finding another guard is one of the top to dos for the Cowboys. Jonathan Cooper and Joe Looney are free agents and both could and maybe should be resigned until we see how the draft falls out. Cooper was a good player once he learned the Dallas system and might be an answer at LG although I do not think it would stop Dallas from drafting one. Looney has a good chance to be back on a short term deal because he can play both guard positions as well as center. While many so called experts feel Dallas will draft a guard in the early rounds, I have serious doubts about that especially if Cooper is resigned. I do believe Dallas will draft a guard although more in the later rounds than the early rounds. Most will deny that Larry Allen III out of Harvard will be a pick for anyone yet the Jerry factor and his relationship with the Jones tell me differently. Allen might not be drafted in the first four rounds but my bet is that he is drafted by Dallas in no less than the 5th round. The NFL’s main problem with Allen III is that they don’t know if he really wants to play football. He was a beast of a player for Harvard. Betting the Cowboys already know if he wants to play or not, and if he does then my bet is he will be the starting LG before to long in the 2018 season. Otherwise we will see Dallas draft someone like KJ Malone out of LSU in the 6th or 7th round.

Offensive center – Travis Frederick
The only thing we need to know here is who will be signed to be the backup. Looney is likely to be resigned and a draft pick is possible such as Scott Quessenberry who can play guard and center if available on the third day of the draft.

I would expect to see around six new faces on the offensive side of the ball in 2018 between draft picks and possible free agent signing out of the 24/25 guys that make the roster on offensive.

DEFENSE

Defensive tackles – David Irving, Maliek Collins, Tyrone Crawford, Richard Ash, Daniel Ross, Brian Price, Lewis Neal, Joe Vellano
We are not going to keep eight DTs, just no way. Irving will be tendered as a 2nd rounder if someone signs him to a contract although I do believe the rhetoric we have heard from Stephen Jones is more posturing for a team friendly contract than not wanting him. Collins is a very good 3 tech guy. Crawford could be moved back to DT but is a valuable piece to the Cowboys because he can play all four DL positions along with be a leader on the defense that the coaches like very much. Fans might want him gone, but it isn’t happening this year. Ash, Ross and Neal have all been serviceable while Vellano is a futures guy so what do we really know about him. We can basically forget about free agency at DT even though a 1 tech might be needed, it will not be in free agency. The draft might be a different thing. Vita Vea and Da’ron Payne are definitely possibilities if they are around when Dallas drafts although we will have to wait and see if either is bought in as a Dallas visit, if not then it doesn’t bode well as being a first round pick. A guy like Trenton Thompson might be a guy to watch in the later rounds. As to another 3 tech guy, frankly it will be a guy that falls into the late 1st or 2nd rounds. Maybe a guy like Taven Bryan if Dallas see him as a Aaron Donald type guy. Just don’t get the feel they would take one early unless he is real high on their draft board.

Defensive ends – DeMarcus Lawrence, Taco Charlton, Dante Jones, Benson Mayowa, Charles Tapper, Randy Gregory
Lawrence will be franchised or will sign a new contract that we know for certain. Charlton showed signs of being what we hoped when draft in the 1st round last year while Jones did more than ask as a rotation guy. Mayowa was steady and serviceable although I expect him to be cut for cap purposes more than anything else. What we don’t have a clue about is Tapper and Gregory. If Tapper is healthy then maybe he can contribute like was thought when drafted as a sleeper pick, time will tell. All we know about Gregory is that he is going to apply for reinstatement in the next few weeks. Has Gregory excises his demons is the first thing Dallas must find out. If so then can he play or will he be playing in Dallas. I could see him in training camp and Dallas trying to let him have that 2nd chance. His cost is virtually nothing this year so seeing if he is a guy you can use will be an interesting dilemma. In free agency, we can just say forget it because no way Dallas is going to pay anything other than minimum wage to get anyone. The draft though presents a different view. If someone like Marcus Davenport falls to the 19th spot, then I would expect Dallas to take him based on the information we have currently about him. The only way I couldn’t see him picked would be because someone is higher on their board or a team offers way too much to move up to get him. There are come other possible in 2nd day of the draft that could be on the radar.

Linebackers – Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, Damien Wilson, Justin March-Lillard, Tre’von Johnson
With Hitchens and Wilbur as unrestricted free agents and only a slim chance that we get Hitchens resigned, I would expect this position to be high on the Cowboys to do list in the draft. Lee, Smith and Wilson are the default starters and frankly Lillard and Johnson are virtual unknowns. If we should resign Hitchens then we might look for one in the draft although I suspect that we draft two and maybe both in the first two days. Many want Edmunds out of Virginia Tech although he does seem to fit a 3-4 defense better. Roquan Smith out of Georgia would more likely be the heir apparent to Lee if he is available. There are a few others that I could see Dallas interested in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. It is a position Dallas will address.

Cornerbacks – Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, Jourdan Lewis, Orlando Scandrick, Duke Thomas, Marquez White
I suspect we will see changes to this group by addition and subtraction. Scandrick could be a trade or cap causality although I suspect a trade for a late round choice would be more possible. Depending on what happens in the draft may determine one CB spot. Say a guy like Derwin James falls in the draft (a very distinct possibility) and Dallas has him rated as one of their top 15 picks then he very well could be the pick at safety and then the Cowboys move Bryon Jones from safety to corner. Also White has some upside and based on reports could very well be in line for a roster spot in 2018 as well as Thomas whom the coaching staff seems to like. The new defensive coach will let us know fairly quickly this off season. Will we draft a guy, undoubtedly we will and should, just where is a large question.

Safety – Bryon Jones, Kavon Frazier, Xavier Woods, Jeff Heath, Jameill Showers, Marqueston Huff
Although most would like an upgrade here, if it doesn’t happen it is still a very good group. Frazier and Woods will get more playing time and the new secondary coach could be just what Jones needs. Heath is steady and a great ST player. Is Dallas satisfied with the group, I would bet not and probably see a guy or two added in the draft. There has been a lot of talk about Earl Thomas coming to town but highly unlikely and even about Bradley McDougald being signed in free agency to replace Heath. Although either is in theory possible, just remains to be seen if Dallas moves that way. Guys like James and Harrison might be draft targets, again we need to see the visits. Feeling is if one of those two are available for the right value then we snag one of them.

THE DRAFT

It is always a crap shoot. Dallas will evaluate around 150 players with 12 to 18 of them being of a 1st round grade. Dallas will look for value in the 2nd and 3rd rounds and if they are extremely luck they will get one of those 12 to 18 guys at 19 and another will fall into the top of the second and they could very well move up to get him.

We know from past drafts to be on the look out for who the invitees are for Dallas visits as they tend to draft at least two or three of them. In fact, most often one of them will be the 19th pick in the 1st round. There will be guys that are at Dallas Days that could be drafted or signed as undrafted. There will also be the invariable guys that Dallas has no intent on drafting or signing but bring them in to get other teams to bite early on a guy or two.

There is normally one or two guys that none of us even had on the radar as a possibility but it is just the Dallas way of doing things. Mock drafts are fun and frankly change every week and my bet is someone will definitely be right but it is just luck of the draw.

Anyway the off season is officially begun so lets have some fun.
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Re: Evaluating the Roster for 2018

Post by MattN » Thu Feb 08, 2018 10:00 am

Excellent post as usual Sandy!

any thoughts on Jonathon Cooper sticking around?

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sandyf
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Re: Evaluating the Roster for 2018

Post by sandyf » Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:02 am

I believe they have to bring him back at least on a short term contract. Signs point to us drafting a guy in the early rounds but you never know if they will be available when you pick.

Most don't want to believe it but there is a chance when we pick at 19 that Quentin Nelson could be there depending on the trades for QBs and possibly OTs going before us. Have to wonder if Dallas would take another OG in the 1st round. Would be one heck of a line if we did.

Thinking we might take an OG in the second but more likely the third.

Free agency is going to tell us quite a bit about what we might be targeting in the draft depending on who we sign or don't sign.

The Dak friendly thing has got people crazy when really all it is and will be is Dak running a ton of RPO type plays and that requires really two things, good blocking up front with the 5 main OL guys and a TE and WR that can get separation. If we acquire someone like Allen Robinson in free agency and somehow find out if Gathers and/or Jarwin are the guys at TE then could see us taking an OG in the 1st or 2nd.

Have to remember that Jarwin was going to be poached by the Eagles when we promoted him to the 53. Has great size and great hands, excellent route runner but only so-so blocker. Can play multiple position off the line as in slot, out wide, and really good seam route runner. Very strong and seems like Dallas coaches believe he can take Witten's spot. Gathers is going to be the red zone guy and two TE set. Understand he and Jarwin have been working a lot with Dak already with a number of possible RPO plays along with Noah Brown.

Just based on some of the items coming from the coaches and players, would bet that TE isn't much of a priority in the draft and WR only depending on what happens in free agency. Things to note, Allen Robinson and Josh Gordon have been seen in Dallas over the last week hanging with Cowboy players and former players. Might mean nothing but players often start the recruiting process before free agency. Grain of salt right now that could develop.

Back to the original question, Cooper most likely resigned for insurance but could also be the starter.
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Re: Evaluating the Roster for 2018

Post by CajunCowboysFan » Wed Feb 14, 2018 2:54 pm

"Otherwise we will see Dallas draft someone like KJ Malone out of LSU in the 6th or 7th round"

Unlike his dad, Karl "The Mailman" Malone, he is soft and would not make it inside. He almost quit football after last season to be a federal marshal and he doesn't need the money.
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