Cowboys: Top 5 depth?

This morning, Pat Kirwin of put out a list of the 5 deepest teams in the NFL. The Cowboys came in at #4. I was alerted to this by my boy Tyler, and I think we both had the same reaction, which went something like this:

But OK, I have an open mind, so I figured I’d at least hear Kirwan out, as he listed 10 essential pieces to building good depth:

I figured I’d take them one by one and apply them to the Cowboys:

1. A backup quarterback who can go at least 2-2 if he had to take over for a month straight.

Jimmy says: Yes. Orton is a Top 5 NFL backup.

2. A second running back who could be a 1,000 yard back if he had to take over or at least generate 75 yards of offense a week as a runner and receiver.

Jimmy says: In four seasons in the league, Felix Jones’ high in rushing yards is 800. He has 3126 yards from scrimmage in his career in 48 games, or 65 yards per game. He’s also not very durable. By Kirwan’s definition, the answer is no. Jones is a bigger name than he is a player, but he’s still better than most backup RBs. So I’ll ignore Kirwan’s rules on this one and give him a debatable Yes.

3. A third wide receiver who could go in for a starter down and generate 4-6 receptions a game as an X or a Z.

Jimmy says: God no. Right now, the Cowboys’ 3 is Kevin Ogletree. Beyond Ogletree, the Cowboys don’t have a single player with a catch in the NFL.

4. A second tight end who could be a legitimate threat as a blocker or receiver.

Jimmy says: No. John Phillips looked like an up and comer when he tore his ACL in the 2010 preseason, but showed absolutely nothing last season.

5. Two experienced backup offensive linemen. A swing tackle for either side and an inside player for the guards/center. Experience required because they will not get many reps in practice until injuries occur.

Jimmy says: Gawd no. The only offensive lineman the Cowboys have that has taken more than 300 career snaps is Pat McQuistan, and he was unemployed (for good reason) until a couple weeks ago. The other two guys with any experience at all, Bill Nagy and Kevin Kowalski, were both bad when they got chances last year. There isn’t one player on this team that I would feel comfortable putting into the game at OL at any time.

6. A third defensive tackle already in a rotation that could play a whole game well if a starter went down.

Jimmy says: Well, I think Kirwan is talking about a 4-3 alignment here, but we’ll talk about the Cowboys 3-4 front. Ourlads has Kenyon Coleman starting in front of Tyrone Crawford and Sean Lissemore. I really like Lissemore as depth, and the Cowboys hope that 3rd round pick Crawford is a player that can contribute. So while Ive been bashing the Cowboys’ DEs for some time now, I don’t think they lose much if any of them go down. Whether that’s because the starters aren’t really adequate starters or the depth is “good” is up for debate. I’ll call this one a push.

7. A pass rush specialist that could play some run down situations if a starter went down.

Jimmy says: No. I like Victor Butler as a pass rusher, but only as a situational pass rusher. He’s not a run defender. To be determined what Kyle Wilbur is.

8. A fourth corner back that could bump up to the nickel corner if that player had to replace an injured starter.

Jimmy says: Yes. The Cowboys are deep at CB.

9. A third safety that can start or provide a defense with an opportunity to play some ‘Big Nickel’ when needed.

Jimmy says: Nope.

10. Four core special team players that could help on offense or defense in a pinch. That is a total of 14 players not listed as starters that become the most important people on a roster when injuries take starters off the field. Which teams look the most ready to answer the challenge of roster depth?

Jimmy says: Too tough to tell. We’re talking about rookies like Kyle Wilbur and Caleb McSurdy here, and nobody has any idea is they can play in the NFL just yet. Push.

So by the tale of the tape, I got 3 for yes, 2 for push, and 5 no’s. Without looking, I don’t think I’d have the Cowboys in the Top 15 in terms of depth.


  1. TK19 says:

    Most rational Cowboys fans will tell you this team has POTENTIAL to be deep – but most of the depth guys are unproven at the NFL level. As of right now I would not call this team “deep”, but ask me again in November.

  2. Cassandra says:

    just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that i have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. any way i’ll be subscribing to your feed and i hope you post again soon

  3. yehti says:

    As a Dallas fan I agree and disagree with some of your thoughts. I think Butler can be a run defender on limited snaps. If i remember correctly he graded out ok on that.

    3rd safety rookie Johnson can be that guy, so could Church. So 4 decent safeties in Sensi, Church, Johnson, & Pool. no there are not world beaters, but decent.

    I will concede the swing tackle as McQ (smh) and Parnell has upside but is still limited and raw.

    As for Phillips it normally takes 2 years to come back from his injury so jury is still out on him.

    as for Wr ugh could go either way

  4. I Agree says:

    If it wasnt for the Boys ,There would be no popularity in the NFC East, The Jets are way more popular than the G men & Pittsburgh is way more popular than Philly with Dallas over the Texans by a mile ,no one cares about Eagles, Skins & Giants in there own states so show some respect for Americas team!!!!!!

    1. Redskins Fan says:

      Obviously you are two things:

      1) A Cowboy fan
      2) A Troll.

      There is no doubt the Giants are the #1 team in NY and NJ; not even close, and that includes areas close to Buffalo. And that was before they won two Superbowls the last few years (Heck there are large sections of NJ where even the Eagles pull much better than the Jets). I don’t believe there is anywhere in NY or NJ outside of the Jet’s offices where a random sample of 150 people would rank the Jets the #1 team for that area.

      The Redskins, for all their flaws, still have a HUGE following throughout Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Deleware. There are even sizable pockets of fans in Kentucky, South Carolina and Pennsylvania (which is really saying something, because…..)

      Oh, and 3) (the because) The Steelers unquestionably have a larger percentage of the fans in Pennsylvania than the Eagles… but the Steelers are one of the highest percentages of fans in the NFL, period. The Eagles ALSO have a very large, very rabid fan population that is geographically dispersed; they just have the disadvantage of playing in the same state as the Steelers, and being between a triangle of three other ultra popular teams in the Giants, Steelers and Redskins; considering they are still in the top 6 or 7 in terms of popularity, that kind of says something for just how rabid the football fans are in Pennsylvania, given that they have sizeable bases for the Steelers, Eagles, and even a nice size niche for Redskins fans.

      And that’s even after the Redskins have been mediocre for long enough that only rabid fans are really left (all the Bandwagoneers have left for other teams).

      1. RogerPodacter says:

        i dont know why you went to such length to respond to someone who you acknowledged as a troll.
        i do agree with your points, regardless. haha

      2. SkinsaneAsylum says:

        haha, all true my friend. not sure you had to even respond to that guy though. dont give him what he wants!

      3. Smitty2K3 says:

        “Obviously you are two(four) things:

        1) A Cowboy fan
        2) A Troll.”


        3) Live in the northeast.
        4) A fan of the Heat, Yankees, and Manchester United.

    2. BBI says:

      Something critical beings said of the Cowboys? Well we can’t have that….

      rabble rabble rabble rabble

    3. Skinsational says:

      Wish your site had a “Rec” feature. 🙁

  5. Dez Bryant's Probation Officer says:

    In addition to the need for a backup QB, shouldn’t depth be more about having an in-game rotation to keep players fresh? Or do we just strap up our best 11 and play the whole game?

    1. Jimmy Kempski says:

      Also a good point.

  6. ProtoTyler says:

    To be honest, I think the criteria is fairly sound, but his judgement is questionable to say the least.

  7. Kushan says:

    Thanks Jimmy, I now can’t stop saying “What What Whaaaaat?” out loud randomly. People in the office are starting to look at me funny.


  8. RogerPodacter says:

    i kind of figured that orton was really skewing kirwan’s rankings and judging by this line:

    ” Orton alone has to put the Cowboys in the top five teams.”

    i’d say thats about all that Kirwan really cares about here. i do agree that orton is great to have as a backup, but that doesnt really do much for the overall team depth.

    1. rage114 says:

      This. It is obvious he puts much more weight on the QB than anything else.

      1. SkinsaneAsylum says:

        Yea and i bet this same guy crucified the Skins when they drafted Cousins in the 4th…

    2. ProtoTyler says:

      Well I’ll agree that Orton is absolutely a top quality Backup QB. However, Romo is a Wizard back there to be able to stay upright behind THAT OLine. Orton doesn’t have 1/8th the elusiveness of Romo. Orton Offensive system fit: yes. Movement ability required to SURVIVE behind that interior OL: no.

      I’m sure the Cowboys hope Romo stays healthy and the OL becomes serviceable. Can’t have one of those without the other. And if Romo can’t stay up behind that OL, its a safe bet Orton won’t be able to either.

  9. Free Plax says:

    You were way to kind to the Cowboys about their running back situation. Felix Jones is a straight up BUST! Murray flashed but their is no garuntee he turns into anything great either.

    1. MVPETER says:

      You need to look up what bust is, 5.1 ypa is not a bust.

  10. Trueblue63 says:

    Any thoughts to doing this for the rest of the division?

    1. Maybe. I think my 10 criteria would be different, so that would open up a new can of worms.

      1. Jason says:

        I’d like to second this request. I think it’d be a really interesting feature – either by your standards or Kirwin’s.

      2. Southern Philly says:

        It’s your site, use your own criteria. There won’t be any worms.

  11. rage114 says:

    Who was the rest of the top 5?

    1. Links the first sentence.

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