Dallas Cowboys 2021 starting lineup projection ahead of training camp

Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants
Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants
Wesley D Keefer

NFL training camps start next week and teams will start compiling their starting lineups in preparation for the season.

Rosters will be trimmed with players shuffled around the depth chart as Week 1 creeps upon us. The Dallas Cowboys have a few positions to finalize during preseason position battles, including tight ends, defensive tackles and cornerbacks. Ahead of their training camp, here are the projections for the Dallas Cowboys starting lineup for 2021.

2021 Dallas Cowboys starting lineup

Quarterback - Dak Prescott

Dak Prescott remains the starter for the Dallas Cowboys, health permitting. No other QB on the roster comes close to earning a shot at his job. Dallas has the best chance to win the NFC East and has the best QB in the division. Dak was on pace for a historic season before his injury early in the 2020 season.

Running back - Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas Cowboys v Cincinnati Bengals
Dallas Cowboys v Cincinnati Bengals

It feels like we hear that Ezekiel Elliott is "in the best shape he's ever been in" every year. He didn't look like his usual explosive self last year but he does look like he's in peak condition. Elliott is already looking explosive again on the field and the Dallas Cowboys could have a top-five RB again.

Wide receiver - Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb

Amari Cooper will be the main target for Dak Prescott and is coming back from ankle surgery. He had 92 catches for 1,114 yards and five TDs in 2020.

Michael Gallup became quite an underrated superstar last season. He's coming off a hip injury but should be good to go for Week 1. It's the final year of his deal with the Dallas Cowboys, and he could end up with 1,000+ yards and 15+ yards per catch.

CeeDee Lamb will start in the slot and was just shy of 1,000 yards as a rookie. If Dak Prescott plays as well as he did before the injury, all three of these guys could have 1,000+ yards. Cooper could end up being third on the team in receiving yards as well.

Tight end - Blake Jarwin

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles
Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles

Dalton Schultz filled in for Jarwin after he went down in Week 1 and finished the year with 63 catches for 615 yards and four TDs. Blake Jarwin, though, is back and signed a long-term deal in 2020, giving him first crack as the starter.

Schultz is still a great TE2 and could take away targets from Jarwin. Either way, the Dallas Cowboys get two vertical threats at TE.

Offensive line - LT Tyron Smith, LG Connor Williams, C Tyler Biadasz, RG Zack Martin, RT La'el Collins

Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys
Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys

Tyron Smith only played in two games last season, but is fully healthy and should return as a top-15 tackle in the league. Connor Williams was one of the few non-All Pro offensive linemen for the Dallas Cowboys. He remained a strong player as the offensive line started to crumble last year. He's coming off his best year and should continue to improve on it.

Tyler Biadasz has competition at center with Connor McGovern, but is the better pass-protector for a healing QB. Biadasz had an average rookie season, but could find his footing in Year 2. Zack Martin was the second-best guard behind Quenton Nelson in 2020, allowing just one sack over two seasons. He's also one of the best run-blockers the Dallas Cowboys have.

La'el Collins didn't play in 2020 because of an injury after having a career-year in 2019. He struggled with the move from guard to tackle in 2017 but was starting to find his groove before he got injured.

Defensive end - Demarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory

DeMarcus Lawrence is one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL with a top-ten win rate. He's just as impressive against the run and totaled 6.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss in 2020.

Randy Gregory had three sacks and four tackles for loss and quickly rose to the occasion as the second-best defensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys. He did so in a limited role last year and the Cowboys then decided to move on from Aldon Smith and run with Gregory.

In eight out of his ten 2020 games, he played under 40 snaps and still managed 3.5 sacks, 16 pressures and 12 hits on the QB.

Defensive tackle - Neville Gallimore, Osa Odighizuma

Dallas Cowboys v Cincinnati Bengals
Dallas Cowboys v Cincinnati Bengals

Neville Gallimore started in place of the injured Trysten Hill and played nine games, more than Hill had in two seasons. Gallimore also has better size and technique than Hill. Osa Odighizuma is versatile and could jump Hill in the lineup. He brings speed to the position, which is something the Dallas Cowboys want at DT.

Linebackers - Jaylen Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, Micah Parsons

Jaylen Smith and Leighton Vander Esch may not be with the Dallas Cowboys for long. If that is the case, Keanu Neal will enter Week 1 as a starting linebacker.

Smith got a huge deal (six years, $68 million) and Dallas will want to get the most out of him. He can play WILL or SAM with his skillset, too. Vander Esch excels at MIKE with his coverage skills, but is due for a payday as well. He's young and could bring more in return through a trade, but he's also an established leader on defense.

Micah Parsons was drafted 12th overall and is seeing time at LB and EDGE in camp. The Dallas Cowboys want him on the field whenever possible, but he won't see much time as a pass-rusher when Smith and Vander Esch are on the field.

Cornerbacks - Kelvin Joseph, Trevon Diggs

Dallas Cowboys v Los Angeles Rams
Dallas Cowboys v Los Angeles Rams

Trevon Diggs returns as a locked-in starter after having three INTs, 14 passes defended, one sack and 58 tackles as a rookie. His ideal size, physicality and skillset should pair well with second-round rookie Kelvin Joseph.

The Dallas Cowboys expect big things from the Kentucky prospect with his natural ball skills and ability to stick to his assignments like glue.

Safeties - Donovan Wilson, Damontae Kazee

Carolina Panthers v Atlanta Falcons
Carolina Panthers v Atlanta Falcons

Keanu Neal would have been a starter but the Dallas Cowboys moved him to LB full-time. Donovan Wilson was a standout player in 2019 and fits well within Dan Quinn's defense with his ability to play the LOS.

Damontae Kazee played for Quinn in Atlanta and even started for an injured Keanu Neal. He tore his Achilles but will be ready for camp. The Dallas Cowboys will be monitoring him to see if he reclaims his explosiveness and speed.

Special teams - P Bryan Anger, K Greg Zuerlein

Bryan Anger goes into training camp without any competition at his position. He's been a decent punter in the league, having the 12th-best yards per punt last year. Greg Zuerlein attempted a career-high 41 FGs in his first year with the Dallas Cowboys. He missed three XPs after going 42-for-42 in 2020.

Edited by Colin D'Cunha


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