With free agency and the draft completed and OTA’s and minicamps scheduled for the next month and a half, here’s a closer look at the projected depth chart for the Dallas Cowboys:
Note: Starters in bold
The Cowboys’ offseason theme is to be Dak-friendly as Prescott enters his third season. With a big season the Cowboys could look to sign him to a mega-deal as soon as next offseason, when he'll have one year to go on his rookie deal.
Without the looming threat of a suspension, the Cowboys hope Elliott can return to being a potential NFL rushing champ in 2019. Yes, Austin is listed as a running back. He will be used as a space player out of the backfield and in the slot.
Fullback (1): Jamize Olawale
It’s still strange not seeing Dez Bryant with this group after his release. The Cowboys know they don’t have a traditional No. 1 receiver, but they are hoping the group can help Prescott more than one individual could.
Taking the retired Jason Witten off the depth chart, the rest of the tight ends have nine career catches. Witten had 19 games in his career with at least nine catches.
The Cowboys need Smith to be healthy. He’s played the past two years with a back condition and has dealt with other maladies as well. Collins gets a reprieve at tackle but could move inside with Fleming a possible starter or swing tackle.
Zack Martin is looking at a deal that should make him the highest paid guard. Williams, the second-round pick, could be a Day 1 starter but will have to show he is ready for the move from Texas tackle to Cowboys guard.
Frederick is among the NFL’s best centers and has not missed a game in his career. Looney is a solid backup with the ability to play guard as well. Marcus Martin could see some time as a backup center, too.
Note: Starters in bold
Jones is moving back to cornerback after spending the past two years at safety. He has the size new passing game coordinator Kris Richard seems to want at the spot. Awuzie and Lewis ended the year as the starters and have potential as a pairing, but Lewis can be a slot player, too.
The Cowboys would seem to need help at this spot, but have yet to make a play for a safety in free agency and did not select one in the draft. The Cowboys like Heath more than people want to believe, while Woods closed last year well playing in the slot but will get the chance to be the free safety in 2018.
The Cowboys were thrilled to nab Vander Esch with the 19th pick in the first round. He can play all three linebacker spots, but they believe he can support the run and play the pass the way Rolando McClain did for them in 2014. Lee is the unquestioned leader of the defense. Smith could see more time at strong-side linebacker and become a pass-rusher as he continues to improve from his knee injury.
This might be the best group the Cowboys have had since Rod Marinelli came to the team. They have depth to work the rotation, and Lawrence showed last year he can be a major impact player with 14.5 sacks. Irving had seven sacks in eight games and needs to show some consistency. Crawford is a valuable piece as well with his ability to play multiple spots. Charlton played better down the stretch of his rookie year. The Cowboys are hoping former early picks like Ealy, Jones and Ward can tap into their potential.
Punter (1): Chris Jones
Jones is one of the more underrated punters in the NFL and played a large part into why opponents averaged just 4.2 yards per return last season.
Bailey has been one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history but he slumped down the stretch, missing four field goal attempts and two extra points following a return from a groin injury. The Cowboys have no worry that he'll find his form again.
Ladouceur is back for his 14th season with the club. He has not had a poor snap since coming to the Cowboys in 2005. Daly will get plenty of chances to snap in the offseason and training camp and might be somebody worth watching for the future.
Kick returner (2): Austin, Rod Smith
This job might be handled by a committee but the Cowboys want to get the ball in Austin’s hands a lot. He needs to have better ball security but he can break the long one.
Punt returner (2): Austin, Beasley
Austin has three punt returns for touchdowns in his career of 95, 78 and 75 yards. Beasley has served as the backup in a fair-catch role. That should continue.