Projecting Cowboys’ starters before draft
The Dallas Cowboys are finally beginning to make some moves via free agency. Nothing too significant has taken place but possibly two new starters – outside linebacker Justin Durant and safety Will Allen – were added and a few more could be on the way.
If the season started today, would the team’s starting lineup look much different from the 2012 season?
Obviously next month’s NFL Draft should allow the Cowboys to add at least one new starter, but here’s the starting lineup projection without forecasting any draft selections.
QB: Tony Romo – Contract extension or not, Romo is under center for at least one more season.
RB: DeMarco Murray – Even if the Cowboys draft a running back, a healthy Murray is the team’s workhorse.
WR: Dez Bryant – Easily the team’s top big-play threat and arguably its most valuable offensive weapon.
WR: Miles Austin – The veteran needs to stay healthy for an entire 16-game season.
WR: Dwayne Harris – Came on strong last season and should be team’s No. 3 receiver.
TE: Jason Witten – For the 11th consecutive season the tight end position is easy to predict.
LT: Tyron Smith – Without question, the most valuable offensive lineman on the roster.
LG: Nate Livings – Had a solid year last season and should improve in a second year next to Smith.
C: Phil Costa – Hasn’t been able to stay healthy. If that continues, Ryan Cook will start.
RG: Mackenzy Bernadeau – Had a below average first year in Dallas and the position could be upgraded early in the draft.
RT: Doug Free – Coming off the most disappointing season of any Cowboys starter and could see role reduced.
DE: DeMarcus Ware – One of the NFL’s top pass rushers should continue to be dominant at DE.
DT: Jason Hatcher – After playing well in the 3-4 scheme he’ll try his hand at playing on the inside.
DT: Jay Ratliff – The 31-year-old battled multiple injuries last season and his stats continue to decline.
DE: Anthony Spencer – Could be a good move to the line, returning to the position he played in college.
OLB: Justin Durant – Recorded 103 tackles in 14 starts last season for the Detroit Lions.
MLB: Sean Lee – Missed 10 games in 2012 with a foot injury. Played in 29 games the previous two seasons.
OLB: Bruce Carter – Emerged after Lee was lost to injury but then missed final five games with dislocated elbow.
CB: Brandon Carr – Cowboys’ top corner intercepted three passes last season and should improve on that total in 2013.
CB: Morris Claiborne – Finished with eight passes defensed during rookie season and should be even better in Year Two.
S: Matt Johnson – Missed entire rookie season with hamstring injuries but if he’s healthy he should get the nod over Allen.
S: Barry Church – Missed 13 games with an Achilles injury. Safety position could also be addressed in the draft.
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