After what feels like the longest offseason in NFL history, it’s game week in the NFL at last. One of the traditions for preparing to play is when teams put out their depth charts for the media to peruse prior to that week’s game, which the Dallas Cowboys recently released.
The depth chart lists apparent starters and the subsequent substitutes for the upcoming season opener in Los Angeles against the Rams. Obviously these are subject to change and don’t reflect the official starting lineup that will be decided on game day, but, while most of the list is not surprising, there are a few new things to note for Dallas.
Here is a look at the unofficial depth chart for the Cowboys as the season nears a much-anticipated kickoff:
The first thing that pops out is that rookie CB Trevon Diggs is listed as a starter over veteran corner Chidobe Awuzie. Diggs did have a very strong camp, by most accounts, so it’s not a surprise that the coaches are willing to throw him right into the fire.
Awuzie has also dealt with an injury for the past two weeks, so it might be more of an indication that he’s not fully ready to go. Either way, the elevation to starter status for Diggs is a statement about how the Cowboys feel about their second-round selection and his ability to step in and play well.
Another rookie, Reggie Robinson, is listed as one of the backup safeties. It shouldn’t come as a surprise since the team did mention that they were going to see how he would perform at safety after drafting him as a cornerback, but this is the first time seeing Robinson labeled as a member of the Dallas back end.
Also, along the defensive line, Everson Griffen is listed as a backup DE behind DeMarcus Lawrence. The starter opposite Lawrence is listed as Tyrone Crawford. It’s not a huge shock since Griffen was a late signing and will still be seeing the field in obvious passing situations. Expect Griffen to split snaps with either DE.
However, what might be a bit more of a twist is Aldon Smith being listed as a starter at LB. Without Sean Lee in the lineup, Smith has worked his way from league washout to a potential starting LB for the Cowboys. Smith’s been a redemption story in Dallas and if he gets back to near where he was when he played for Jim Tomsula in San Francisco, the defense could be a handful to deal with.
Finally, along the defensive line, DT Trysten Hill being penciled in as a starter is a big deal. Stephen Jones hinted that this was the case last week and indeed the team has Hill listed as one of the first team DTs.
Hill was thought of as a bust after just one season where he struggled as a rookie and some fans didn’t think he’d make the 53-man roster. Instead, Hill earned his way into the starting lineup for the Cowboys, a major improvement from where he was at this time last year as the team’s top draft selection, albeit as a second-rounder.
There aren’t nearly as many revelations on offense. Dallas is expected to have one of the top offensive units in 2020 and the lineup looks to be pretty stock standard along with expectations. Joe Looney is the starter at center, with the rookie Tyler Biadasz as his backup. Connor Williams won the job as the starting LG and Connor McGovern will back him up.
Veteran offensive lineman Cameron Erving will be the starter at RT with La’el Collins shelved for the season’s first few weeks.
Impressive first-round pick WR CeeDee Lamb didn’t win any starting jobs, but he’ll be heavily involved on offense and, after much consideration, he won’t be the team’s top punt return man. Instead, that job will be Tony Pollard’s and Cedrick Wilson will handle kickoffs unless they change their mind come Sunday.
The Dallas Cowboys are getting ready to play a real football game with their season kicking off on Sept. 13. Putting out their depth chart is a good reminder of what’s to come.
Do you think the Cowboys will have any tricks up their sleeves after debuting an unofficial depth chart? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.