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Dallas Cowboys Depth Chart 2021: Predicting Week 1 offensive and defensive starters

Dallas Cowboys Introduce Head Coach Mike McCarthy
Dallas Cowboys Introduce Head Coach Mike McCarthy
Walter Sharp

The Dallas Cowboys head into the new season on the back of a disappointing 6-10 finish in 2020-21. Dallas lost quarterback Dak Prescott during its Week 5 game against the New York Giants and then struggled, losing four out of the next five games.

However, they had a tremendous draft, raising expectations ahead of the new season. With all the new faces on the Dallas Cowboys roster, let's examine how their depth chart will shape up for the 2021-22 season.


Dallas Cowboys' 2021-22 Depth Chart

Washington Redskins v Dallas Cowboys
Washington Redskins v Dallas Cowboys

Offense

Quarterbacks: Dak Prescott, Garrett Gilbert, Ben DiNucci, Cooper Rush

Running backs: Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, Rico Dowdle, Sewo Olonilua

Wide receivers: Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb, Cedrick Wilson, Simi Fehoko, Noah Brown, Malik Turner, Johnnie Dixon, Aaron Parker, Stephen Guidry, T.J. Vasher

Tight ends: Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz, Jeremy Sprinkle, Sean McKeon

Offensive tackles: Tyron Smith, La'el Collins, Josh Ball, Ty Nsekhe, Brandon Night, Terence Steele

Offensive guards: Connor Williams, Connor McGovern, Zack Martin, Matt Farniok

Center: Tyler Biadasz


Defense

Interior defensive line: Neville Gallimore, Trysten Hill, Osa Odighizuwa, Justin Hamilton, Carlos Watkins, Quinton Bohanna

Edge: DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, Dorance Armstrong, Chauncey Golston, Brent Urban, Bradlee Anae, Ron'Dell Carter

Linebacker: Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, Micah Parsons, Keanu Neal, Jabril Cox, Tarell Basham, Azur Kamara, Luke Gifford, Francis Bernard

Cornerback: Trevon Diggs, Anthony Brown, Jourdan Lewis, Kelvin Joseph, Maurice Canady, Nahshon Wright, C.J. Goodwin, Rashard Robinson

Safety: Donovan Wilson, Damontae Kazee, Darian Thompson, Reggie Robinson II, Jayron Kearse, Steven Parker


Special Teams

Place kicker: Greg Zuerlein

Punter: Bryan Anger, Hunter Niswander

Long snapper: Jake McQuaide

Also Check Out: 2021 NFL Depth Chart for all 32 teams


Dallas Cowboys' 2021-22 Offensive Depth Chart Analysis

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys
Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys will be hoping their offense can kick into gear this season. They will be returning all three wide receivers and welcoming back Dak Prescott, who signed a new four-year deal in March.

The season will hinge on the production they get from their offensive line and running back, Ezekiel Elliott.


Quarterbacks

The Dallas Cowboys learned a great lesson during the 2020-21 season when Dak Prescott was their quarterback. Dallas went through four different starting quarterbacks due to Prescott's injury before Andy Dalton stepped up and took charge of the offense.

The Cowboys will hope that Prescott can return fully fit and lead them back to the playoffs this season.

Andy Dalton started 11 games for the Cowboys last season, throwing for 2,169 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. In the four games that Gilbert and DiNucci appeared in, they threw for 462 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.

Prescott played only five games and he had a completion percentage of 68%, which was the best on the team. Dalton only threw for 313 more passing yards than Dak, and he played in 11 games.

The biggest question coming into the 2021-22 season is how Dak Prescott's ankle holds up across a 17-game NFL season. If the Cowboys want to make the playoffs this season, they'll need a healthy Dak Prescott. They can't afford for Prescott to get injured again, especially after the long-term deal he signed this off-season.


Running Back

Ezekiel Elliott is coming off a season where he registered his lowest rushing totals and equalled his fewest touchdown totals. The fourth overall pick of the 2016 draft rushed for 979 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 244 attempts last season.

Ezekiel Elliott went nine straight games without a rushing touchdown, while his backup Tony Pollard also went four consecutive games without a rushing touchdown. The Cowboys averaged 111.8 rushing yards per game last season.

To put their struggles into perspective, the Cowboys running backs had 1,788 rushing yards last season, 239 fewer than Derrick Henry.

If the Cowboys want to compete for a spot in the playoffs, they'll need their rushing offense to step up and Ezekiel Elliott to prove that he hasn't started to decline.


Wide Receivers

Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb are all returning this season, which is a big boost for the Cowboys offense.

CeeDee Lamb had an outstanding rookie season in 2021. He registered 935 receiving yards and five touchdowns on 72 receptions out of 111 targets. The former Oklahoma Sooners standout finished second behind Amari Cooper in receiving yards and targets last season and Dallas should have a great feeling about Lamb heading into his second year.

Amari Cooper finished last season with 1,114 receiving yards and five touchdowns on 92 receptions to back up his successful 2019 campaign, where he had 1,189 receiving yards. It marked the first time Cooper had accumulated over 1,100 receiving yards in back-to-back campaigns since his first and second seasons in the NFL.

Michael Gallup, meanwhile, is entering his fourth year with the Dallas Cowboys. Gallup will need to continue to make improvements and develop into Dak Prescott's second option.


Tight Ends

The Dallas Cowboys will welcome back their starting tight end Blake Jarwin this season. Jarwin suffered a torn ACL on a non-contact injury in the Cowboys' Week 1 loss to the Rams last campaign.

Dalton Schultz provided a boost at the tight end position for the Cowboys with 63 receptions, 615 receiving yards, and four touchdowns last time out. With Jarwin returning, the Cowboys will now have two productive tight ends on offense.


Offensive Tackle

The Dallas Cowboys' offensive line struggled to make an impact in 2020, mainly due to the fact that they lost veteran left tackle Tyron Smith to a nagging neck injury. Dallas shut Smith down for the season, and he underwent surgery. The Cowboys will hope he can stay fit for the entirety of the new season.

Dallas will also welcome back right tackle La'el Collins. Collins missed the 2020 season due to a hip issue, but he underwent corrective surgery and is raring to go. However, there are still concerns over whether Collins will be able to withstand a full season. If he goes down with another injury, the Cowboys will turn to rookie left tackle Josh Ball to take his place.


Offensive Guards

Connor Williams was a bright spot amid Dallas' injury woes last season. Williams played 100% of the snaps on offense in 2020. The fourth-year offensive guard has only missed three starts in his three years with the Cowboys.

Zack Martin, meanwhile, has been the anchor on the Dallas Cowboys offensive line. Martin's consistency has shone through over the years and he has been selected to six Pro Bowls.


Center

The Cowboys will turn to their second-year center, Tyler Biadasz, for the upcoming season. Biadasz played in 37% of the Dallas Cowboys' offensive snaps during his rookie season. Biadasz will likely be the least experienced lineman to start for the Cowboys this season.


Dallas Cowboys' 2021-22 Defensive Depth Chart Analysis

Washington Football Team v Dallas Cowboys
Washington Football Team v Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys had one of the worst defenses to start the 2020 season but things started to turn around towards the end of the year. To shore up their defense, the Cowboys roped in the top-ranked defensive talent in this year's draft, Micah Parsons.


Interior Defensive Line

One of the major struggles for the Dallas Cowboys in 2020 was their defensive line, which failed to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Dallas' defensive line only had 31 total sacks last season.

The Cowboys front seven also gave up 158.8 rushing yards per game to opposing running backs, as well as five yards per carry and 20 rushing touchdowns. Dallas ranked 31st in the NFL in rush defense, only finishing better than the Houston Texans.

Neville Gallimore will lead the way for the Dallas Cowboys on the interior defensive line. During his rookie season, Gallimore registered 11 solo tackles and .5 sacks. The former Oklahoma defensive tackle will look to have a more productive season in 2021.

Dallas will also welcome back their third-year defensive tackle, Trysten Hill, whose 2020 season was cut short by an ACL tear.


Edge

Washington Redskins v Dallas Cowboys
Washington Redskins v Dallas Cowboys

DeMarcus Lawrence is coming off a fourth straight season in which he played all 16 games. His production in 2021 was the bright spot on the Cowboys' defensive front. Lawrence registered 34 total tackles, 6.5 sacks, and four forced fumbles.

Randy Gregory, meanwhile, saw a decrease in production during the 2020 season. During the 10 games that Randy Gregory appeared in, he registered 21 total tackles, 3.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles. Gregory's production dropped from the 25 total tackles and six sacks that he recorded in 2019.

If the Dallas Cowboys want to compete this season, they'll need both Lawrence and Gregory to have big seasons. Lawrence hasn't registered double-digit sacks since the 2018 season.


Linebackers

Dallas made an excellent decision when they selected former Penn State linebacker, Micah Parsons in the draft. NFL scouts graded Parsons as the top defensive prospect in the draft and the Cowboys are expecting big things from the rookie.

The Dallas Cowboys decided not to pick up Leighton Vander Esch's fifth-year option. Since his rookie campaign, Vander Esch has failed to play an entire season. The decision to decline his fifth-year option means Vander Esch will be entering a contract year in 2021.

Jaylon Smith is the leader of the Dallas Cowboys' linebacker group. He led the team in tackles during the 2020 season with 89 solo tackles and 154 total tackles. Smith also tied a career-high in interceptions during the 2020 campaign.


Cornerbacks

The Dallas Cowboys struggled in corner positions during the 2020 season. Dallas' cornerbacks were only able to intercept 10 passes and gave up 34 touchdown passes to opposing quarterbacks.

Trevon Diggs put together a successful rookie season for the Cowboys, recording 58 total tackles and three interceptions. Diggs will look to show the NFL that he has all the abilities to be a lockdown corner.

Dallas made a bold decision when they brought back corner Jourdan Lewis. The former University of Michigan corner has only missed three games in his four-year career, but his production hasn't been the best of late. If Lewis wants to remain on the Cowboys roster, he'll need to have a better season in 2021.

During the 2021 NFL draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected Kelvin Joseph out of the University of Kentucky. Joseph possesses all the qualities to succeed under newly hired defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Quinn loves bigger cornerbacks, and Kelvin Joseph stands at 6-foot-1 and weighs 192lbs.


Safety

The Dallas Cowboys signed two former Atlanta Falcons safeties this off-season, Keanu Neal and Damontae Kazee, both of whom played under Dan Quinn before. Keanu Neal is likely to move to linebacker with Damontae Kazee starting at the free safety spot.

The Dallas Cowboys will also turn to Donovan Wilson, who is entering his third year in the NFL. Wilson appeared in 14 games for the Cowboys last season and registered 71 total tackles, 3.5 sacks, and two interceptions.


Edited by Arvind Sriram

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