Cowboys depth chart: A pre-draft look

Green = Position is set, unlikely to be addressed in the draft.  Yellow = Player’s spot on depth chart in question, could be addressed in the draft.  Red = Highly likely to be addressed in the draft if player is high on the depth chart, unlikely to make the team if low on the depth chart.  Also, if the player is 30 years of age or older as of this publish date, his age is noted in parenthesis.

NOTE: There was some confusion as to the color code system on the Eagles depth chart I did earlier this week.  If a player is highlighted in green (see Nate Livings), it does not mean that I think that player is a stud.  It just means that his spot on the depth chart is very likely safe.  Good?  Good.  OK, let’s get to it:

Offense:

  • Michael Vick has been in the league since 2001.  Rex Grossman since 2003.  Eli Manning since 2004.  They all played at some point during their rookie seasons.  Tony Romo attempted his first pass in the NFL in 2006.  And so, I think there’s a perception that Romo is younger than he actually is.  But here’s something you may not know: Kickers and punters aside, as the rosters currently stand, Tony Romo is the 5th oldest player in the NFC East, and the oldest of the NFCE QB’s.  Now, it’s not that Romo is some sort of ancient QB or something.  Romo turns 32 next week, he’s the unquestioned starting QB in Dallas both now and in the immediate future, and he has plenty of football left in the tank, but now might be the appropriate time to begin to think about getting his successor in place.
  • It’ll be interesting to see what DeMarco Murray is in his sophomore season in the NFL. While I think start, and I think he’ll play well, I don’t think we should be putting his name in permanent marker as the 2012 starter, even if the Cowboys have publicly acknowledged that Felix Jones is a “complimentary back.”  The Cowboys need to be careful not to overrate Murray.
  • A few days ago, ESPN Dallas’ Calvin Watkins put out a list of 5 Cowboys that could be cut if Jerry Jones and Co. draft a player at their respective positions.  Somehow, Felix Jones landed on that list:

Felix Jones. Yes, Felix Jones. The Cowboys were interested in Boise State running back Doug Martin, but he wasn’t able to visit Valley Ranch for a pre-draft visit because of last week’s storms. Jones isn’t a feature back — in fact, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett continues to call him a complementary running back — and the team did have internal discussions about trading him. If the Cowboys find a younger version, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he’s let go. DeMarco Murray, Phillip Tanner and quite possibly a draft pick doesn’t make the Cowboys significantly younger, but it does give them some fresh legs. Jones, like Marion Barber and Julius Jones before him, might need a fresh start somewhere else.

I’m sorry, but that just makes no sense to me.  Jones is going to make $1.17 million in 2012.  It’s not like he’s some kind of eyesore on the salary cap, and more importantly, it’s not like he doesn’t have ability.  Even if the Cowboys draft a RB, they’re really going to cut Jones and keep Phillip Tanner?  Because he has “fresh legs?”  Really?

Continued after the jump…

Is Raymond Radway the Cowboys' #3 WR?

  • There are currently 3 FB’s on the roster. I see no reason to keep more than one.
  • The Cowboys don’t have a legitimate #3.  Raymond Radway had the team made last year, but his injury was ugly.  He says he’ll play this year, but I don’t know about that.  He’s the 3 if he’s close.  He’s what they want, tall, smooth, a good leaper and eats up CB cushions.  Or at least he did.  He had the equivalent of the Joe Thiesmann injury, so we’ll see.  Kevin Ogletree is one of the top “black hats” entering 2012, guys the fans hate.  He wasn’t ready to start when Austin and Bryant got injured last year.  Ran crappy routes.  Ego the size of Montana but no work ethic.  That’s a lethal combination.  Still, he has skill.  Dwayne Harris is a good route runner.  Good hands.  Not explosive, however.  That’s not good for a slot guy.  Needs guys ahead of him to go down or somehow needs to shave a tenth off his 40 time.
  • Marty B is gone in Dallas :(, but at least he stayed in the division :).  John Phillips was a promising young TE… until a torn ACL ended his 2010 season.  In 2011, he didn’t look anything like the promising player he once was.  He’ll be 2 years removed from the ACL this year, so we’ll see.
  • Tyron Smith and Doug Free are locked in at the OT positions.  Smith will try to build on his good rookie season, while Free will try to bounce back from a very disappointing 2011.  The Cowboys were fortunate that both players stayed healthy last year, because there is zero depth behind those two guys.  Tackle depth needs to be addressed.
  • The Cowboys brought in OGs Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau in free agency.  Both are expected to start, although it’s certainly not a position that still couldn’t use a drastic upgrade.  If David DeCastro is sitting there at 14, I think the Cowboys would be crazy to pass him up.  Of the two free agent guards, Bernadeau would be the first to hit the pine if the Cowboys brought someone else in since Livings is making $4.5 million in 2012.
  • The Cowboys simply can’t go into another season with Phil Costa at center.

Defense:

  • Jason Hatcher is the closest thing to an ideal starter at DE for the Cowboys, and Sean Lissemore is one of my favorite players on the roster.  Lissemore provides excellent depth.  Otherwise, the Cowboys could do much better than Kenyon Coleman and Clifton Geathers as their other two DE’s.  DE has been a weak position for the Cowboys for the last half decade, and will continue to be if they don’t address it.
  • Jay Ratliff played 71.2% of the defensive snaps last season.  That’s asking a lot of an undersized NT that’s going to turn 31 in August.  I like Josh Brent, but he only got 137 snaps last season.  The Cowboys need to trust Brent enough to spell Ratliff with more regularity.  If the trust isn’t there, then they should probably replace him.
  • Like it or not, Anthony Spencer is the starting LOLB in 2012.  Because of Spencer’s uncertainty in 2013 (he’ll be a free agent next year again, of course), Victor Butler would have to completely crap the bed not to stick on the roster, even if the Cowboys draft an outside pass rusher.
  • I really like what the Cowboys did with the Dan Connor signing, and I think the Cowboys will begin the season with Connor as the starter, although I’m sure they’d like to see Bruce Carter earn that job instead.  Beyond that, Orie Lemon Lemon is a special teams guy.  Had some flashes in camp, but got caught in a numbers game. Might hang around if guys get hurt, but with Dallas adding Connor, odds got a lot longer for him.
  • Brandon Carr is in, and Terence Newman is out, but the Cowboys remain thin at CB.  They’re set at 1-2-3, but the rest of the group is camp body city.  Some fans hyperventilate over Taplin-Ross, because he had some decent college stats, but he has been off the field for a long time.  Butler is the best of the bunch, but there’s nothing all that noteworthy about him.
  • The Cowboys signed Brodney Pool, but he’s a one-year band-aid.  If the Cowboys have the chance to upgrade that spot, they should.  Gerald Sensabaugh is solid at the other spot.
  • Crap. As was rightfully pointed out in the comment section, I forgot Marcus Spears.  Oops.  He’s be with the 2’s, with Geathers sliding down to the 3’s.  Spears is very much in danger of being cut if the Cowboys draft a DE, as he’s on the hook for $2 mil in 2012.

Special Teams:

  • Dan Bailey had himself a fantastic rookie season.  He’s the unquestioned kicker heading into 2012.
  • For the first time since 2003, the Cowboys will not be heading into the season with Mat McBriar as their punter.

H/t to Raf from Cowboys Nation for some help with a few players buried deep on the depth chart.

19 Comments

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  3. […] I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think I kinda like the Giants’ LB rotation.  Maybe not “like like” them, but like them enough where they’re not really a weakness.  I’ll have my Giants pre-draft depth chart out this weekend.  Eagles and Cowboys pre-draft depth charts can be found here and here. […]

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  8. ian says:

    demarco murray is an absolute lock to be the cowboys starting rb. there is no question about it.

  9. AustonianAggie says:

    uh oh, who is our Punter? Matt McBriar was really good for a long time

  10. […] here at Blogging the bEast.  If you missed my writeups on not overrating DeMarco Murray and the Cowboys’ depth chart, take a gander.  Giants depth chart is up next.  Should have that ready to go sometime around […]

  11. Matth313 says:

    Hey Jimmy,
    Any timeline on a G-Men depth chart analysis?

    1. Since you asked, I’ll do that one next. Probably Wednesday.

  12. Do yourself a favor Jimmie: when you are searching through Cowboys material, if you see the name “Calvin Watkins” as the author, just move on. Don’t even bother reading it. It’s a complete waste of your time. 🙂

  13. Mike says:

    Quick couple of things:

    Calvin Watkins has absolutely no clue what the hell he’s talking about. The Cowboys responded with a “hell no” comment when Watkins suggests that they’re trying to trade Felix, and he takes that to mean that they’re just going to cut him outright? Jones must have dated his sister or something, because he seems to have something against the guy.

    At receiver, the Cowboys seem to be REALLY high on Holmes…who’s 6-4, 210, and has some speed to burn. I have a feeling that they’re going to go into the season with Austin, Bryant, Radway, Harris, and Holmes as their receivers. Also, they’re apparently really high on Parnell, and expect him to be the swing tackle again. I haven’t seen him play, so I’m not just going to assume that’s a spot that has to be upgraded.

    Oh…and on defense, you forgot Marcus Spears. Though, I really wish you hadn’t, and he wasn’t on the roster for as much as he’s getting.

    As for Anthony Spencer…I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. The guy gets a bum wrap. He does a lot of things really well, and he still had more sacks than the entire D-line, sans Hatcher, combined. Other than Hatcher and Ratliff, not a single d-lineman had double digit pressures last season. Fix the total lack of pressure from the front 3, and nobody would notice or complain about Spencer’s sacks.

    1. Crap… Yeah, how the hell did I forget Spears? I’ve been killing the guy for like 5 years.

      1. Mike says:

        Probably because he’s essentially invisible on the field.

        He’s just not paid like it.

  14. Scott says:

    Its ridiculous how few players they have over 30 now

  15. BBI says:

    If either Free or Smith gets hurt, its going to be a blood bath. I don’t even know who Parnell is, and that’s the issue. Doesn’t look like they’d go OT early in the draft either with two established starters…so any rookie they get will likely get torched by the division’s pass rushers as well.

    1. Parnell is a basketball player. Went from DE to TE to OT. 10 career snaps. I see his name spelled incorrectly more than I see it spelled correctly. It IS Jermey, nor Jeremy. That’s about all I got.

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