FRISCO, Texas – There's not a whole lot of action over this next month while we wait for training camp, so I decided to try to do some forecasting.
This offseason program gave us a really good idea of what the Cowboys are working with on their roster right now. Obviously, training camp performances are valuable – and injuries dictate a lot about the NFL season. But it's possible to think ahead to the coming months with a really good idea of what this team's roster will look like.
Plenty will change before the calendar flips over to September, but in the meantime, here is my thought process about what I think the Cowboys' 53-man roster will look like when it's all said and done.
Broaddus: I have to admit that Kellen Moore made more good throws in these offseason practices than he did poor ones. The fact that the coaching staff is comfortable with him will get him the backup job even though the scouts will continue to keep an eye on other clubs this summer.
Running Back/Fullback (4)
Broaddus: Ezekiel Elliott, Darren McFadden and Keith Smith were my locks. I had questions about whether to go with Alfred Morris or Rod Smith and it came down to special teams -- so I went with Smith. During these practices, I also noticed that Smith was getting more offensive snaps than Morris at running back. The coaches might be getting him ready for more responsibility.
Wide Receiver (5)
Broaddus: The front office could go with six here, with Lucky Whitehead, Andy Jones and Noah Brown fighting for that spot as the inactive player each week. I can't see them setting up their roster with half of their receivers being similar size (if they were to go with Beasley, Switzer and Whitehead, for example). Jones almost made the roster last season so he knows what lies ahead, while Brown showed more promise in the minicamp than he did the OTAs.
Tight End (4)
Broaddus: I have yet to hear of any setbacks for Hanna or Swaim in their rehab -- so I expect we will see them both in training camp. The interesting battle will be between Gathers and Connor Hamlett, who was receiving quite a bit of work as that extra tight end in "12" personnel during the spring. He is far more polished than Gathers at this point, but with what this front office has invested in Gathers to this point, it only makes sense that they see this through. I think Gathers makes this squad, but he's somewhere between spot 50-53.
Offensive Line (8)
Broaddus: I do hate that I've gone short one guy here, and I don't completely trust Chaz Green health –wise -- but when he does play, he does a nice job. The right tackle position will be La'el Collins, so that leaves left guard as the pressure point. Joe Looney was initially there during opening workouts but missed time later with a back issue. Emmett Cleary, Byron Bell, Chaz Green and Jonathan Cooper have all taken shots with the first unit. All of the backups can play other positions, as well. I would not be surprised if Looney is the starter, but the coaching staff might feel more comfortable with Cooper -- who is a little bit better athlete and a little bit stronger. This could be a spot that they add a guy to once that final cut is made.
Defensive Line ( 10)
Broaddus: I will always try and go a little longer at offensive and defensive line, because those guys tend to be hard to find during the season. Saying that, I know what I did on the offensive side of the ball - - I will take care of that on the defensive side. I did not include David Irving in my initial group since he is potentially facing a four-game suspension -- so the club may have to account for his roster spot in Week 5 against Green Bay. There is some flexibility in the group with Crawford for game day considerations so that would help ease the loss of Irving. What will be interesting from a game day perspective is who dresses between Moore, Charlton, Mayowa and Tapper?
Broaddus: This will be a veteran group heading into the season. The question will be: is Jaylon Smith healthy enough to contribute? I am betting that he will be working in that direction. I like what I have seen so far from Lotulelei and his movement skills. He might be a little short, but he's always around the ball and that will show up when we start these preseason games. Like offensive line, this is another position that the front office could look to add to off waivers.
Defensive Backs (10)
Broaddus: I don't have Robert Blanton making this team at safety, because I am willing to see what I have in Xavier Woods. If they rotate the position like they did last season, I believe that Woods will be fine. I do like what they have at cornerback, which is a nice mix of veterans and rookies. Awuzie and Lewis should contribute instantly with Awuzie maybe even seeing some time at safety like Byron Jones did. Anthony Brown should push Nolan Carroll for his job - - so keep an eye on that. Marquez White showed up during the minicamp but will likely be an inactive each week. I have no problem with that.
Broaddus: One of the best groups in the league, top to bottom. I will say this, Sam Irwin-Hill showed up when they did practice as a punting unit. The ball does jump off his foot, but I just don't see him beating out Jones – who was outstanding on so many levels in 2016.