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Offseason | 2024

Analyzing 6 deepest positions on Cowboys' roster

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FRISCO, Texas – Looking at the Cowboys' roster here in late March, it's easy to look at the things we don't really know at this point.

As it currently stands, the Cowboys have lost their starting running back, left tackle, center in free agency. On defense, they've lost a defensive end, a starting defensive tackle and have not re-signed a starting cornerback.

Obviously, the Cowboys have some decisions to make at some point, but what about the flip side?

Let's not forget this has been a 12-win team for three straight seasons. The entire team hasn't been gutted by any means.

So in a glass-half-full approach to this roster, let's look at the top half. If we break down the offensive and defensive positions into 12 spots, let's rank the top six positions in regards to depth.

  1. Guard – Now we must put an asterisk here because we're still unsure where Tyler Smith is going to play. There's a chance he is the Tyron Smith replacement at left tackle. If that happens, it changes the depth at guard and probably moves tackle up into this top 6 range. But for now, Tyler Smith is a guard and when you add him with Zack Martin, that's 100 percent of your starters in the Pro Bowl. Behind them is T.J. Bass, who shows plenty of upside. Guard is first if Tyler Smith is included.
  2. Quarterback – Again, we're talking about the entire depth of the position. What the Cowboys have at quarterback is a starter in Dak Prescott who finished No. 2 in the MVP voting last year. He was a second-team All-Pro and led the league in TD passes and completions. And that was in his first season with a new offensive system and play-caller. Behind him is a backup in Cooper Rush who has been in the league since 2017 and owns a 5-1 record as a starter. We've seen him come in for a short time and win games. That's exactly what a backup QB is supposed to do. And behind him is Trey Lance, a former No. 3 overall pick of the 49ers. He has yet to show that kind of upside and potential but there's definitely some talent there – probably as much as any team in the NFL has with a third quarterback. It should be a good competition between Rush and Lance for the backup spot.
  3. Defensive End – It's not easy to know how Mike Zimmer is going to play this position. But regardless of the scheme he plays, it's a safe bet that Micah Parsons will be rushing the passer. And DeMarcus Lawrence will be doing the same and holding down the run. And Sam Williams has the chance to contribute more than he's had in the previous two years. From those three, there is still a lot of depth and talent. Sure, the Cowboys lost both Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler. They will need to replace the back end but it's still a top-heavy group, led by Parsons.
  4. Cornerback – Again, this one might have some question marks because of Trevon Diggs' health. But he suffered a torn ACL injury in Week 3 last year. All signs indicate he would be ready to go for the start of camp and certainly by the start of the regular season. If he can return to form this year, that gives the Cowboys two All-Pro cornerbacks who have both led the NFL in interceptions during a season. Add in Jourdan Lewis, who re-signed this offseason and the Cowboys have really good depth from 1-3. After that is a problem and one that should be addressed in the draft.
  5. Wide Receiver – This one is a lot like defensive end. The best player is one of the best at his position as CeeDee Lamb is definitely in the Micah Parsons category. You've got a savvy veteran as the No. 2 in Brandin Cooks, who is comparable to D-Law. And the third guy is still an unproven member of the 2022 class in Jalen Tolbert, who will get the chance to step up, just like Sam Williams will. There is some unknown after that, and you can even make the case that uncertainties begin with Tolbert, who will be asked to fully replace Michael Gallup as the third receiver. But considering the season Lamb had, plus with Cooks coming on strong later in the year, it's a quality position at the top.
  6. Safety – This one might be the one position that goes the furthest on the depth chart with quality players. Maybe there isn't the same star power in the starting lineup as other spots, but the duo of Malik Hooker and Donovan Wilson is a solid tandem. After that, youngsters such as Juanyeh Thomas and Markquese Bell, who has been moved back to safety, will provide great depth here.

Honorable Mention: The tight end group just missed the cut. This could be a spot that makes a big leap and it'll depend on the backup spot. If Peyton Hendershot and/or Luke Schoonmaker steps up to push Jake Ferguson, it'll be a better group in 2024. Don't forget about John Stephen Jr. coming off an ACL injury. He was likely going to make the roster last year and should be a candidate to push for playing time. Watch out for this group.

Again, that's the top half of the positions. Those are the spots that have the best depth as we see it right now. Obviously, the Cowboys have to fill some holes at spots like running back, center, defensive tackle, offensive tackle and linebacker. We'll see how the Cowboys address this in the draft and perhaps with a few more additions in free agency.

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