Dallas Cowboys 53-man roster breakdown ahead of season opener

The Dallas Cowboys have cut their roster with some interesting details that will help shape how the team tackles Week 1 against Tampa Bay.

DALLAS – The Dallas Cowboys have their 53-man roster for now, and most of the predictions the team looked like missed the mark. It would have been hard to fathom the Cowboys cutting out their particular team players and going with only one quarterback in the regular season, but this is how the organization put together its roster when asked to make it official.

Obviously, there are steps to be taken even after changing the roster like this, it’s still a strange way to build a team. The easiest changes would include opening up two roster spots with a designation to back left tackle Tyron Smith on IR and wide receiver James Washington.

There were other surprises as well, but eventually, all strategy would lead to a 53-man roster that included all the special team fixings and a backup for Prescott until Week 1 arrived.

With that in mind, here are some other observations from early rooster trimmings from the Cowboys:

Three draft free agents earn jobs

The Cowboys brought in 20 un-draft free agents shortly after the draft and added another before the start of the season.

Three of these players made the roster. Safety Marquez Bell, tight end Peyton Hendershot, and wide receiver Kavonte Turpin would be a good fit for Dallas. All three are also likely to be safe if the Cowboys cease their business to complete the roster.

Turpin’s work on the return earned him a spot, scoring on both kickoff and punt returns to give the Cowboys a viable alternative in both areas.

Bell has impressed the team with his ability to play physically near the line of scrimmage and remain fluid in coverage.

Hendershot had a good preseason that included a game-winning touchdown in the all-important Week 3 exhibition finale.

The defensive line has 11 options

The defensive line was one of the deepest groups for the Cowboys in training camp and preseason. Dallas combines youth and experience into a unit that may not have many stars — yet — but it has the potential to lay claim to some Pro Bowl caliber players by the time the season ends.

Dan Quinn’s defensive line has versatility, and his plan should allow for a healthy rotation that keeps guys fresh.

Veteran defensive lineman Carlos Watkins was the odd man as the Cowboys placed short options in the DT in Quinton Bohanna, rookie John Ridgeway and better DT Tristan Hill.

This group may be slightly tweaked when the roster rebuild comes, but it should remain at least 10 strong.

Six linebackers make the cut

In a surprise, the Cowboys kept six linebackers. The top four players in the position appeared to be set in stone with Micah Parsons, Jabril Cox, Leighton Vander Esk and Anthony Barr.

However, the general consensus was that the team would choose between veteran LB Luke Gifford and rookie LB Devin Harper. In the end, Dallas opted to keep both.

Gifford has been a core Special Teams player, while Harper was the team’s lead tackler in the preseason, so both have a claim to be on.

His hold on the roster spot seems to be weak. When the changes come, don’t be surprised if one of these LBs is released and brought back to the practice team.

RELATED: Why 2022 Could Be the Final Year for Tyron Smith on Left Tackle With the Cowboys

Offensive line is changing

All eyes were on the offensive line to see who was kept. It was no surprise as the top seven players – including Tyrone Smith – made it, but changes are coming. When Smith moves to IR, expect the Cowboys to bring an experienced tackle option, either in free agency or through a trade.

Swing tackle options Josh Ball and rookie Matt Waltzko are safe for now, but Dallas doesn’t feel safe with eight offensive linemen, especially two of them inexperienced Ball and Waltzko.

The team will certainly be on the lookout for another tackle, but don’t rule out the Cowboys adding more than one player to the offensive line ahead of the season.

28 strong

The Cowboys dominated the defensive side of the ball with 28 players. The prevailing theory last season was that the offense was going to escalate. It turned out that defense would play a big part in helping the Cowboys win the NFC East title.

This season, the defense could be the unit leading the charge. Quinn led a quick turnaround in his first year with the team, and they could be even better in 2022.

The number of players placed on defense shows that the Cowboys have great talent on that side of the ball and have opted not to let players of their choice into the open market.

Which areas of the roster do you think the Cowboys are strongest in? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi,

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