Very premature 53-man roster projection

After watching rookie minicamp, we're ready to project the Cowboys' 53-man roster.

Are we ready to guarantee these projections? Absolutely not. We reserve the right to revise.

In fact, we guarantee that these will be revised. We'll do so once or twice during the offseason and on a weekly basis from the beginning of training camp until the final cuts are announced.

QUARTERBACKS (3): Tony Romo, Jon Kitna, Stephen McGee

This group is pretty much set in stone for this season. The Cowboys need to figure out during training camp and the preseason whether McGee is a decent developmental project. If not, quarterback will be a priority in next year’s draft.

RUNNING BACKS (3): Felix Jones, Marion Barber, Tashard Choice

The trio from last season won’t change. The roles almost certainly will. Jones will be the lead horse in the committee, with Barber returning to his old role as a bruising backup and closer.

FULLBACKS (1): Deon Anderson

If the Cowboys planned to cut Anderson due to his February arrest, they would have already done so. But his job could be in jeopardy if the Cowboys are confident enough in John Phillips’ lead blocking ability to go without a true fullback.

TIGHT ENDS (3): Jason Witten, Martellus Bennett, John Phillips

If Bennett approaches his potential, the Cowboys will have the league’s best tight end group. Of course, we said the same thing last offseason, and Bennett fizzled out after a dazzling training camp.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5): Miles Austin, Roy Williams, Dez Bryant, Kevin Ogletree, Sam Hurd

I’m not sure whether Patrick Crayton will be traded or released, but I have a hard time believing the Cowboys will pay $2 million to a player without a role who has made it clear he’d rather be elsewhere.

OFFENSIVE LINE (10): Andre Gurode, Leonard Davis, Kyle Kosier, Marc Colombo, Doug Free, Robert Brewster, Montrae Holland, Cory Procter, Sam Young, Travis Bright

The top seven are certainties, barring injury. It gets tough to project after that. Procter could be out of a job if Holland or Bright give the coaches confidence that they can play center. Undrafted free agent Mike Tepper could beat out sixth-rounder Young for a backup tackle job. Veteran backup Pat McQuistan, who will focus on guard, could hang on to his roster spot.

NOSE TACKLES (2): Jay Ratliff, Junior Siavii

Seventh-round pick Sean Lissemore puts pressure on Siavii to perform during training camp and the preseason. But my hunch is the Cowboys will opt for the bigger body to complement Ratliff and try to stash Lissemore on the practice squad.

DEFENSIVE ENDS (5): Igor Olshansky, Marcus Spears, Stephen Bowen, Jason Hatcher, Marcus Dixon

This would be going heavy at the position, but the future is cloudy for Spears, Bowen and Hatcher, who are all playing on one-year tender offers. It would make sense for the Cowboys to keep Dixon, who has earned a lot of respect with his work the last two years on the practice squad and in the offseason program. He can’t be stashed on the practice squad again.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (4): DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Brandon Williams, Victor Butler

With Spencer’s emergence, the Cowboys have the best pair of 3-4 bookends in the league. They need the ’09 fourth-rounders to develop to give them quality depth at the most important position in Wade Phillips’ scheme.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (5): Bradie James, Keith Brooking, Sean Lee, Jason Williams, Bobby Carpenter

This leaves Stephen Hodge and Steve Octavien off the team. The Cowboys could opt to keep one of them instead of Carpenter, since the former first-round pick will almost certainly lose his role in the nickel and dime packages.

CORNERBACKS (4): Mike Jenkins, Terence Newman, Orlando Scandrick, Jamar Wall

I’m giving Wall the nod over Cletis Gordon because I think he’s a better kickoff and punt coverage guy. The Cowboys have a terrific trio, but depth will once again be a concern.

SAFETIES (5): Gerald Sensabaugh, Alan Ball, Michael Hamlin, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Pat Watkins

The Cowboys are leaning away from pursuing a potential starting free safety in free agency. If that holds true, Watkins’ ability on special teams probably saves his job.

SPECIALISTS (3): Mat McBriar, David Buehler, L.P. Ladouceur

The hope is that Buehler can handle all aspects of the kicking job instead of being a kickoff specialist. That would save a roster spot for elsewhere … but will the Cowboys regret it when he misses a clutch field goal?