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Depth Chart: Pre-Training Camp Predictions for the Dallas Cowboys

Jaylon Smith will change Dallas defense Blue & Gold Illustrated via Flickr


Depth Chart Predictions for the Dallas Cowboys

OTAs are all but wrapped up, and the Dallas Cowboys will be heading into minicamp starting June 5th – 7th. Moreover, the Cowboys are healthy heading into this mandatory minicamp. Presumably making it easier to predict a depth chart heading into training camp and then into the preseason.

After a 13-3 regular season, winning the NFC East, the Cowboys gained a number one seed in the playoffs. As a result, they had a bye week during the Wild Card Playoffs. Dallas will use the talent leading to those previous accolades in order to grow their depth chart. Meaning, do not expect major changes, at least on the offensive side of the ball. However, the complete opposite can be said for the defense. Additionally, there will be a few new faces from this year’s draft and free agent signings. Ultimately, this should create a very competitive and hungry defense moving further into the summer.

At this point, what I will do here is give you my predictions for the starters on this year’s depth chart.

The Offense

QB- Dak Prescott

RB– Ezekiel Elliott

WR 1– Dez Bryant

WR 2– Terrance Williams

Slot WR– Cole Beasley/Ryan Switzer

TE – Jason Witten

LT– Tyron Smith

LG – Jonathan Cooper

C– Travis Frederick

RG– Zack Martin

RT– La’el Collins

Note this, you will hear from Noah Brown this training camp. The six-foot-two, 222-pound receiver is a physical specimen. In terms of production, Brown may have been inconsistent at Ohio State. However, the opportunity will be his to climb up the depth chart this summer. Terrence Williams’ job is not in danger, but the same cannot be said for his backup, Brice Butler.

Notice I put Cole Beasley and Ryan Switzer both as the starting slot receiver. While it may not be technically possible, you will see formations with both on the field lined up in slot positions. Possibly even some games started that way.

My depth chart battle to watch

In my opinion, an intriguing battle to watch will be that of the backup running backs. Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris are both competing for that backup role. They lack ability to bring to the special teams unit. I expect only one of these veterans to be on the roster heading into the regular season. My prediction is that Darren McFadden will show the importance of his versatility and that he is a reliable option out of the backfield, something Morris is not. McFadden wins the backup running back role, giving Morris options as a free agent.

I am being very optimistic that the greatness of the offensive line can help rescue the career of former first-round draft pick Jonathan Cooper. I personally believe the coaching staff would prefer for Cooper to win the starting left guard job. The switch for La’el Collins from left guard to right tackle indicates to me that Cowboys feel Cooper is capable of winning that position.

The Defense

RDE– Taco Charlton

1T– Cedric Thornton

3T– Maliek Collins

LDE- Demarcus Lawrence

WLB– Sean Lee

MLB– Jaylon Smith

SLB– Damien Wilson

CB 1– Nolan Carroll

CB 2– Anthony Brown

Slot CB– Orlando Scandrick

SS– Byron Jones

FS– Jeff Heath

There is one thing I have to mention about Maliek Collins, the second-year player out of Nebraska. Due to the explosion of talent by the rookie dual on the offensive side of the ball with Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott, the very productive rookie season of Maleik Collins was definitely, as they say, slept on. The former high school wrestling state champion recorded 23 tackles and five sacks in 14 starts during 2016 with the Cowboys. I am expecting another huge breakout season from Collins.

I have placed Jaylon Smith at the starting middle linebacker position for the Dallas Cowboys. Cowboys Nation has waited an entire season to see this stud take his rightful place as middle linebacker on this defensive unit. Imagine your defense ranking number one against the run last year. Then add a red-shirt rookie who would have been a top-ten pick, in my opinion, had there not been a knee injury. I will say this, if healthy, the combination of Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, and Damien Wilson can be one of the best linebacker cores in the NFL.

I am on record for saying that I do not expect Orlando Scandrick to be on the roster heading into the regular season. However, if the Cowboys decide to roll with the veteran corner, I expect Orlando to serve as a bridge to rookie third-round pick Jourdan Lewis.

What About the Young Defensive Backs?

I do not have Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, or Xavier Woods listed as starters on the depth chart prediction. However, I fully expect all three of these guys to be major contributors to this year’s defense. At the same time, you can never predict the injury list. So, being deep in a secondary that has been ridiculed and analyzed as the team’s only true weakness for the past several seasons is a positive. There will be more than enough opportunities for all of these rookies to get time on the field this year. And again, this is a pre-training camp prediction of how I expect things to go. However, when the pads come on during training camp and completion is live and real, I think then we can really grasp what things will look like heading into the season.


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