Ranking the Cowboys from 1 to 80
Training camp starts Saturday for the Dallas Cowboys, who will report with 80 players on the roster.
The Cowboys hit that number Tuesday by cutting nose tackle Junior Aumavae and linebacker Donovan Woods. We took the liberty of ranking the available players top to bottom. The top 30 or so should be here come September. When training camp ends, Sam Hurd and Patrick Crayton might have different addresses and Roy Williams might be coming off the bench. Martellus Bennett will be pushed more so this year than before.
The Cowboys' training camp schedule is taxing, taking the team to several venues: San Antonio; Canton, Ohio; Arlington, Texas; Oxnard, Calif.; San Diego; and Houston before the team opens the regular season in Landover, Md. But coach Wade Phillips believes his club is ready for it. So are we. With that, we ranked the entire roster heading into camp.
2010 Cowboys Training Camp Player Rankings
You can't go wrong with Ware, Romo and Ratliff at the top of the list. Jones is supposed to get more touches this season, which increases his ability to make more plays, especially in the run game. The Cowboys have both starting corners and outside linebackers among their elite players, and James enters the top 10 because of his stability at the linebacker position.
Gurode, despite reaching the Pro Bowl last season, wasn't as good as in years past. He played with more power but less technique in 2009. That has to change this year. Bryant is the highest-rated rookie because of the possibility that he might start by the time September comes to an end. Free gets his shot at the big time as the starting left tackle. McBriar is still one of the top punters in the game, and the Cowboys value him.
The Cowboys are high on Lee, who received a first-round grade by the scouting department. Ball and Buehler move into new roles this season -- Ball is the starting free safety and Buelher is the place kicker. Hatcher is finally healthy and looked good during spring practices; he could challenge for a starting spot. Williams and Crayton are still quality receivers, but Williams has underachieved in Dallas.
Choice, Bennett and Ogletree want more playing time and could get it if the players in front of them get hurt or struggle. The Cowboys got the better end of the trade that sent Bobby Carpenter to the St. Louis Rams because Barron can play both tackle spots. Anderson's spot on the roster is in question because of legal issues and a potential challenge from Chris Gronkowski. Hurd is fighting for a roster spot with younger players coming up.
Dixon is out of options after spending two years on practice squad, so he will get plenty of chances to make the 53-man roster. Williams looked good in organized team activities and minicamps and is poised to become Ware's backup. Siavii played much better than what coach Wade Phillips expected toward the end of the season. Now he has to keep it up. Owusu-Ansah has a chance to make the team as a returner if he can recover from his shoulder injury.
Church and Ryan are two dark horses to make the roster. Ryan is fast and was a standout returner in the CFL. Church showed a knack for making plays on the ball during the spring, and that impressed the coaches. Johnson and Holley are fighting for a roster spot, especially if the Cowboys go with just five wide receivers on the 53-man roster. McGee will get a long look this summer as far as Romo's future backup is concerned. Holland almost signed with another team but elected to take the Cowboys' contract offer because he liked the area. Wall might not be a cover corner but could make the roster on special teams.
Hodge might start camp on the physically unable to perform list, which would hinder his development. At some point he has to get on the field. Sicko and Gronkowski showed the coaches something in workouts; now they have to perform in preseason games. McCann is fast and has good coverage skills, but if he can tackle on a consistent basis on special teams, he increases his value to the team. Brent was a steal in the supplemental draft, but off-field issues were a red flag for teams.
Tepper has a shot to make the roster, but if you're listed here, you have a lot of catching up to do. Tucker is pretty quick, but it's not certain if he can move up to beat out some of the other young wide receivers.