DALLAS — OTAs are officially underway for the Dallas Cowboys and fans can rest easy as All-Pro pass rusher Micah Parsons was present after working out away from the team earlier in the offseason.
Parsons’ attendance ended up being the least of the team’s worries. Dallas has one of the best rosters in the league and should be contenders for the Super Bowl if health prevails, but there are still places along the roster that can be enhanced.
No team is perfect, and with practices being held at The Star in Frisco, the Cowboys have had a better look at where they can make some upgrades to fix their imperfections. As Stephen Jones likes to say, roster building is a 365-day job, so the team has the opportunity to be on the lookout for added depth before training camp arrives.
With Ezekiel Elliott’s money about to come off the books on June 1st, here’s a look at five spots that could use a bump in talent:
Dan Quinn’s defense has been on the rise and has transformed into one of the league’s best, especially at creating turnovers. The team selected LB DeMarvion Overshown out of Texas to help solidify a weak position, but his size, just 220 lbs, suggests he might not be best suited for a full-time LB gig and could be used as a hybrid LB/Safety.
Overshown was originally a safety in college, so a dual role in Quinn’s scheme makes sense, which leaves linebacker in need of help.
Leighton Vander Esch and second-year man Damone Clark are the starters right now but there isn’t much behind them. Parsons is still technically listed as a LB, Dante Fowler too, but they are more edge rushers masquerading at the position. What remains as the best options are third-year LB Jabril Cox, second-year player Devin Harper and Overshown.
Cox had trouble getting on the field in 2022 after his ACL injury from October of 2021, and Harper played sparingly as a rookie. The Cowboys also have undrafted free agents Isaiah Land and Tyrus Wheat that they are excited about, but Land is more in the mold of a pass rushing specialist than a true linebacker.
For a position that takes a beating, the Cowboys don’t have enough quality players. Signing a veteran LB to battle for a job would be a welcomed sight.
Dallas has one of the best starting CB tandems in the league in Trevon Diggs and the newly acquired Stephon Gilmore. Behind them, Jourdan Lewis is a solid slot CB and last year’s rookie standout DaRon Bland earned a larger role with his five interceptions.
That’s as good a group of four as there is in the NFL, but after them it gets dicey and Quinn’s defense likes to utilize a bevy of defensive backs. 2021 draft picks Kelvin Joseph and Nahshon Wright have yet to prove their worth, so improvement is needed in year three. 2023 sixth round pick Eric Scott Jr. was valued enough to warrant a trade up, but his place on the roster isn’t known yet. Veteran CB C.J. Goodwin is a special teams ace and is rarely on the field for defensive purposes.
Any injury to one of the top four corners could spell trouble, so signing a veteran CB who could come in and take quality snaps feels like it should be a priority.
The Cowboys enjoyed one of the top offenses in the league last year despite missing starting quarterback Dak Prescott for five games, and that was also with only one above average WR in CeeDee Lamb. The team brought in help when they traded for speedy WR Brandin Cooks and should get a better season from a healthier Michael Gallup.
However, there isn’t much help past the top three. Last year’s third-round pick Jalen Tolbert will be looking to make a big jump after a rough rookie season and 2021 fifth-rounder Simi Fehoko gets perhaps a final chance to make an impression. KeVontae Turpin, meanwhile, is more of a return specialist than a receiver after Dallas never found a niche for him in the offense in his first season.
Dallas drafted WR Jalen Brooks in the seventh round and added intriguing receiver Jalen Moreno-Cropper to the mix as an undrafted free agent. Veteran wideouts Dennis Houston and Antonio Calloway are currently taking up the last few spots on the roster but Dallas could need more help here.
The Cowboys are still in need of a quality guard or tackle to round out their offensive line. As it stands now, the team continues to say that they’ll play the best five in the starting lineup, which includes Tyron Smith (LT), Tyler Smith (LG), Tyler Biadasz (C), Zack Martin (RG), and Terence Steele. But with Tyron Smith’s injury history, and with Steele recovering from a late year ACL injury in 2022, Dallas needs a better option to play at swing tackle or guard if an inevitable injury occurs.
Versatile veteran Chuma Edoga can play both spots, but he’s best served as a fill-in and not a full-time starter. The team is working out other options at both positions, including 2023 fifth-rounder Asim Richards, as well as third-year veterans Matt Farniok and Josh Ball. Second-year OT Matt Waletzko is in the running as the top swing tackle, but he missed all but 11 snaps during the 2022 season with a shoulder injury.
It’s an uninspiring group that could use a better, permanent solution to play at guard or tackle. Having versatility is nice, but having a solid option would help solve a potential offensive line issue.
This is the biggest hole on the roster right now. In a league where games often come down to a few points, having a reliable kicker is a must and current option Tristan Vizcaino isn’t in that category yet.
Vizcaino has made 11 of his 12 career kicks spanning the course of four seasons but he’s never been tested as a team’s top, long term option. The Cowboys have said that they will give Vizcaino the first crack at earning the job, but they would be wise to bring in some competition before the real games start.
Do you think the Cowboys will make improvements to the roster before training camp? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.