Cowboys 53-man roster projection following 2023 draft

The Dallas Cowboys brought in 20 new players over the course of a few days and now they’ll get to the business of seeing who fits in their plans. The 2023 NFL draft and undrafted free agency period is now in the record books, laying waste to 10s of thousands of mock draft exercises.

As entertaining as it is to predict who the team’s going to draft, it’s just as enjoyable to project who’s going to make the final roster. The season feels like it’s a long way off, but with rookie workouts and OTAs about to ramp up, training camp isn’t far behind. Before anyone knows, it’s September again. Everyone loves a good guessing game, so here’s a post-draft look at who will make the 53-man roster for the Cowboys.

Quarterback (3)

(AP Photo/LM Otero)

(2): Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush

The first two on the depth chart are essentially set in stone, barring an injury. The Cowboys are bringing the band back with Prescott starting and Rush the backup. It’s worked for the past two seasons, and the team is comfortable with the plan.

Last year’s third-string QB, Will Grier, will likely be the break in case of emergency option on the practice squad.

Running Back (4)

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(4): Tony Pollard, Deuce Vaughn, Malik Davis, Hunter Luepke

Pollard will step up and be RB1 for the first time in his career, the question is can he handle the load? The team released Ezekiel Elliott after seven seasons and are bringing in some fresh legs.

Vaughn will have plenty of eyes on him after his draft story, but he’s an electric playmaker who will get opportunities to shine. Expect Vaughn to take over the No. 2 RB, while Davis makes his case to stick around as well.

Luepke is a FB who can do it all and is one of the darlings of the team’s undrafted free agency haul. Mike McCarthy loves to have a FB on his roster and he finally gets his guy.

Wide Receiver (6)

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

(6): CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks, Michael Gallup, Jalen Tolbert, Simi Fehoko, KaVontae Turpin

The top four appear to be set as Lamb reprises his role as the star of the group, with Cooks coming in to play second fiddle and to add deep speed. The hope is that Gallup can improve another year removed from his ACL injury.

After that it gets dicey.

Tolbert had just two catches as he adjusted to the NFL game as a rookie, while Fehoko failed to make a leap in his second season, catching just three passes in 2022. Turpin is more of a return man than a receiving threat, so it wouldn’t be surprising for the team to try and find another WR.

Watch out for undrafted free agent WR Jalen Moreno-Cropper making a run at the roster.

Tight End (3)

Michigan tight end Luke Schoonmaker

(3): Luke Schoonmaker, Jake Ferguson, Peyton Hendershot

There probably isn’t another team in the league with this amount of youth and potential at tight end. Schoonmaker arrives as the front-runner to be the starter, but don’t expect Ferguson or Hendershot to make it easy on the rookie to win the job.

The three young TEs have the makeup of a great group that will be asked to play a high number of snaps throughout the season. Each should have the opportunity to make their mark.

Dallas has had no problem keeping four at the position recently, but with Luepke having the ability to do some of the work that was previously done by Cowboys TEs, three is all that’s needed.

Offensive Line (9)

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(9): Tyron Smith, Tyler Smith, Tyler Biadasz, Zack Martin, Terence Steele, Chuma Edoga, Matt Waletzko, Asim Richards, T.J. Bass

It’s a group with five starting caliber players, but how the Cowboys choose to start the Smiths, Biadasz, Martin and Steele remain to be seen. Edoga was brought in to be a second-string player while the team tries to find an option to start at left guard.

Waletzko should be improved in his sophomore season and past his shoulder injury. Richards makes it as a fifth-round draft pick, while Bass has a real chance to earn himself a roster spot as an undrafted free agent.

Defensive line (10)

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons (11)

(10): DeMarcus Lawrence, Osa Odighizuwa, Mazi Smith, Micah Parsons, Dante Fowler, Dorance Armstrong, Sam Williams, Johnathan Hankins, Chauncey Golston, Viliami Fehoko

The DL is going to be a place where training camp will bring out some of the best battles. Dallas has a strong group of 12 that could make a case for the roster, but they can’t keep that many.

In this early prediction, the Cowboys saves money by not keeping DT Neville Gallimore, who hasn’t lived up to expectations. Another run-stuffing DT, Quinton Bohanna, also gets cut. The additions of first-round pick Mazi Smith and Fehoko make both expendable.

Linebacker (5)

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(5): Leighton Vander Esch, Damone Clark, DeMarvion Overshown, Jabril Cox, Devin Harper

There isn’t a lot of depth at LB on this defense, but the top three are set. Clark, Vander Esch and the rookie Overshown are in, so the competition will be for the last two spots. Watch for Clark to make a big improvement in Year 2.

The hope is Cox’s additional distance from his ACL injury allows him to regain his speed and cutting ability. Harper makes it with second-season jump and as a core special teams contributor.

Isaah Land’s production in college made him an attractive option as an undrafted free agent, he will make a case for the 53-man roster.

Cornerback (6)

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(6): Trevon Diggs, Stephon Gilmore, Jourdan Lewis, DaRon Bland, Kelvin Joseph, Nahshon Wright

There’s not much change in who the Cowboys have at CB from last season. No one is taking the place of Diggs, Gilmore, Lewis or Bland, but third-year corners Joseph and Wright have to earn their spots.

Joseph has an advantage as a high pick and his prowess on special teams makes him safe. But Wright will be in competition with rookie Eric Scott, who the Cowboys traded for in the draft.

The wild card is undrafted free agent CB Myles Brooks, who has some buzz.

Safety (5)

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

(5): Donovan Wilson, Jayron Kearse, Malik Hooker, Israel Mukuamu, Markquese Bell

The defense has a solid safety group that runs four deep, and you’d be hard pressed to find a Cowboys team with this kind of depth on it in recent years. Wilson, Kearse, Hooker and Mukuamu can all play.

Bell earned his way onto the team last season as an undrafted free agent, and he’ll stick again for 2023.

Special teams (3): Bryan Anger, Kicker + Long Snapper not currently on the roster


(Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Anger is penciled in as the punter, but the kicker is probably not yet on this roster. It’s hard to believe that Tristan Vizcaino will be the guy in September, the Cowboys will find another option.

Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire