FRISCO, Texas – The Cowboys have just started their voluntary offseason conditioning program this week, getting the majority of the team back together here at The Star for workouts.
The NFL Draft will occur next week, and although the Cowboys don’t have a first-round pick, there will be some additions that will help the roster in 2019.
Getting a walk-in starter this year on either side of the ball doesn’t seem to be a likely scenario. Then again, Dak Prescott was taken in the fourth round in 2016 and he won the NFL’s Rookie of the Year after starting every game at quarterback.
As things stand today, let’s take a closer look how the lineup could look on offense:
QB - Dak Prescott The only question here is when, and how much, Prescott’s future contract extension will be. The soon-to-be 26-year old has the second-most wins by an NFL quarterback since his 2016 rookie season, trailing only Tom Brady. And he has a new offensive coordinator, Kellen Moore, who will try to maximize his strengths.
RB - Ezekiel Elliott At the moment, the Cowboys don’t have a clear backup for the NFL rushing champ. Elliott played 89 percent of the offensive snaps in 15 starts last season. Perhaps the Cowboys look to lessen his workload this year, but he’ll remain the offense’s engine.
WR - Amari Cooper Cooper dominated after arriving via trade from Oakland, and so did the Cowboys’ offense. Dallas ranked third in completion percentage (71 percent), third in yards after catch (1,312) and first in third-down conversion rate (48.4 percent). Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones says the team plans to maximize Cooper’s versatility by getting him involved across the formation.
WR - Michael Gallup Gallup’s production actually picked up after Cooper’s arrival. He had 23 of his 33 total catches in those final nine games and clearly looked more comfortable in the offense. Last year’s third-round pick showed flashes as a dangerous deep threat and should only get better in his second season.
WR - Randall Cobb Listing Cobb as a starter here because the Cowboys figure to use the savvy veteran plenty as a slot replacement for Cole Beasley. Cobb is both electric and dependable with the ball in his hands – two great traits in a receiver. He should settle in quickly as a safety blanket for Prescott.
TE - Jason Witten Speaking of safety blankets, few in the history of the league have filled that role better than Witten. As head coach Jason Garrett said this week, the Cowboys’ young tight ends had to grow up fast last year. Now Witten’s back from retirement, and even if his snaps are reduced in a tight end rotation, it makes sense to place the future Hall of Famer first on an unofficial depth chart.
LT - Tyron Smith Injuries have nagged Smith in recent years, but he still started 15 games last season and didn’t allow a sack. The Cowboys re-signed Cameron Fleming to a two-year deal as an experienced backup swing tackle, but a healthy Smith is critical to the Cowboys’ success on offense. There’s a reason he’s been to the Pro Bowl six years in a row.
LG - Connor Williams Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones says Williams is primed for a “big jump” in his second season. Last year’s second-round pick moved in and out of the lineup due in part to injury, but this offseason he’s adding weight and strength – perhaps the final steps toward becoming a productive full-time starter at guard.
C - Travis Frederick What a journey it’s been for Travis Frederick the last eight months. Diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome last August, Frederick spent the 2018 season recovering from the auto-immune disease and has rejoined his teammates in the offseason program this spring. It’s a great sign that the four-time Pro Bowler is headed toward a return in 2019.
RG - Zack Martin Martin has been flat-out dominant in his first five seasons. Last year, more than anything, the five-time All-Pro showed toughness. He battled through a sprained knee for much of the season and missed the first two games of his career. Offseason rest should get him back to 100 percent.
RT - La’el Collins Collins, and really the entire O-Line, seemed more comfortable after new position coach Marc Colombo reinstalled a familiar blocking approach at midseason. Collins now has two full seasons at right tackle under his belt and still has room to grow as one of the most talented players on the roster.
FB Jamize Olawale – The Cowboys will use Olawale as a lead blocker, but he’s versatile enough to pitch in as a runner and pass catcher.
TE Blake Jarwin – Witten obviously leads the tight end group, but Jarwin should get plenty of snaps after breaking out late in the 2018 season.
G/C Joe Looney – He did an outstanding job all year at center in Frederick’s place and can also help at guard if needed.
T Cameron Fleming – The definition of “next man up” – Cowboys went 2-0 with Fleming at left tackle when Smith was injured last season.