3 PLAYERS WHO WILL MAKE THE COWBOYS’ 53-MAN ROSTER… AND 3 WHO WON’T

Nov 10, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; A detail of a Dallas Cowboys helmet prior to a game against the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 10, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; A detail of a Dallas Cowboys helmet prior to a game against the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The feeling must be euphoric. You’ve trained and worked and practiced your whole life for the opportunity to play in the NFL. You’ve put in the work and everything hangs in the balance as you wait for the phone to ring. When it finally does, there’s someone on the other end of the line saying, “Congratulations! You’re a member of the Dallas Cowboys!” Whether you’re drafted in the 1st round, or you’re an undrafted free agent, it must feel so good to get that call. As a little kid, I dreamed about being Roger Staubach and playing quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. My parents even got me a Cowboys helmet (with Staubach’s two-bar facemask), shoulder pads and a #12 jersey so I could look just like him. Then, my friend across the street, Mike (I’ve changed his name to save myself a little face), came over and proceeded to show me how football was really played, giving me a couple of good licks to the chops for good measure (I should have asked for a bigger facemask). I never recovered. Just like that, my aspirations of being an NFL quarterback were dashed. I was 5, so the dream was crushed early. But these early-20-somethings are at the precipice of achieving their goals. Now comes the hard part: making the team. If you’re an early-round pick, you’re going to be allowed some growing pains and time to adjust to the pro game; if not, you’re going to have to make an impact early and often in order to force out someone who had previously earned their spot. With that in mind, here are three players who will win a place on the final 53-player roster, as well as three players who had previously been a part of the Cowboys whose time has run out.

IN – JAMEILL SHOWERS, QB

I know, I know, I’ve never heard of him either. Like most of us, I was thinking that Kellen Moore was going to serve as Romo’s number-one backup while rookie Dak Prescott was being groomed to eventually assume that position. But this undrafted free agent out of UTEP is making some ears perk up during OTAs. Showers had a decent preseason last year before landing on the practice squad. Now that the name-brand veteran backups are out of the picture, Showers is seizing his opportunity to impress, showing an arm and athleticism that Kellen Moore doesn’t have. My favorite part of what Tony Romo does is his spin move out of trouble in the pocket, leading to some terrific improvisation. If the Cowboys can get even a semblance of that out of a backup, they’ll be happy, which is why Showers may have the edge over Moore, and why he’ll have a spot on the roster come final cutdowns.

 

IN – DARIUS JACKSON, RB

Some poo-pooed this pick when the Cowboys selected the Eastern Michigan running back in the 6th round. I did not. I fully expected the Cowboys to draft a running back in the latter rounds, especially one who can be effective out of the backfield, and maybe return punts and kicks. While he doesn’t have experience in the return game, he will learn, and with his pass-catching ability and natural speed, this is where he will make the team. After Dwayne Harris left for the Giants after the 2014 season, the Cowboys struggled in kick and punt returns with Cole Beasley and Lucky Whitehead. You can’t teach speed, so the Cowboys will likely put Jackson’s to good use on special teams, so Beasley and Whitehead can concentrate on catching passes.

 

IN – MICHAEL MCADOO, DE

Yes, I know, another guy we haven’t heard of. But McAdoo isn’t some small-school diamond in the rough. McAdoo comes from North Carolina and was first in the league in 2011 when the Baltimore Ravens drafted him in the Supplemental Draft. But an Achilles injury kept him on the sidelines for quite some time. He even played in both the CFL and the Arena Football League for a while before the Cowboys brought him onto the practice squad. So why is this guy so special? It all starts with his size: 6’7”, 245 pounds. Plus, he plays a position that the Cowboys are in desperate need of because of player suspensions: defensive end. So far, McAdoo has earned his futures contract, as DallasCowboys.com has reported that he’s “running with the 2s” and has shown explosiveness off the ball in OTAs. Because of the need at defensive end, I’m sure the Cowboys will give everyone a look, but I have a feeling that Michael McAdoo may get a few extra looks because of the long road he’s taken to get here, in addition to his natural ability.

 

OUT – DARREN MCFADDEN, RB

I will be the first to admit that Darren McFadden surprised me last year. Not only was I surprised that he rushed for more than 1,000 yards, but I was surprised he even made the team. I figured Jerry Jones picked him up just to see if his fellow Arkansas alum had anything left in the tank, but that he would be gone by the end of training camp. Now, I’m the first to admit that I have been wrong once or twice before, but I don’t think I’ll be wrong this time. First, when the Cowboys signed free agent Alfred Morris, I figured he would give McFadden some competition; but when they drafted Ezekiel Elliott, that spelled the end of McFadden’s tenure in Dallas. Since I feel the Cowboys will keep Darius Jackson on the roster, I seriously doubt the Cowboys will keep five running backs. Elliott isn’t going anywhere, Morris will be his backup, Lance Dunbar (I hope he’s healthy) will be the change-of-pace back, and Jackson will return kicks and punts. Where does that leave McFadden? Probably not on the team.

 

OUT – DEVIN STREET, WR

Another position that seems to get more and more crowded is wide receiver. Last season was a tough one for the Cowboys, especially after Tony Romo and Dez Bryant got hurt. Bryant’s injury was especially tough because the Cowboys put pretty much anyone and everyone out there to see if they could get a spark. They even traded for Brice Butler. Street, unfortunately, couldn’t provide that spark. If you looked at his stat line, 7 catches, 114 yards, 1 TD, you would think, “Hey, he had a great game!” Unfortunately, those numbers were for the entire season. As I mentioned earlier in this offseason, I feel like if Street was going to break out, he would have done it already, or he would have at least shown flashes of playmaking ability. It’s just not there. Dez Bryant should be back at 100%, Brice Butler and Terrence Williams are battling for the #2, and Lucky Whitehead and Cole Beasley should be dangerous slot and bubble-screen guys. It’s another case of too many players and not enough spots, and I don’t think Street will have one at the end of training camp.

 

OUT – GAVIN ESCOBAR, TE

This pick was a real-scratcher for me when the Cowboys took the San Diego State tight end in the 2nd round in 2013. Unfortunately, he hasn’t done much to allay my worries. In his three seasons with the Cowboys, he has only 26 catches, with most of his usefulness being at the goalline. And since the Cowboys didn’t spend a whole lot of time there in 2015, he was rarely seen. Pair that with the fact that he is coming off injury, and I’m not sure the Cowboys can afford to keep him anymore, not with the salary a second-rounder gets. He simply hasn’t developed into the reliable second tight end option, and potential Jason Witten replacement, that the Cowboys had hoped. I think Escobar may be on his way out. The Cowboys wouldn’t have spent their final draft pick on a project like Rico Gathers otherwise. Some have speculated that the Cowboys could trade Escobar, and it would be great to recoup a late-round draft pick. Either way, I don’t see Gavin Escobar being a member of the Dallas Cowboys in 2016.

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