Three dark horse candidates who could sneak on the Dallas Cowboys 53-man roster

Dan Rogers

Roster battles are going to be fierce this year as the Dallas Cowboys have a lot of interesting players vying for jobs. Some jobs are pretty secure, while others remain wide open. Every year there are always some surprise roster moves, and it's fun trying to figure out what those could be. Here are three dark horse candidates who could sneak their way onto the Cowboys 53-man roster as well as a more popular option who could get jumped in the process.

Instead of Nahshon Wright, watch out for Isreal Mukuamu

I want to be clear here - I am not suggesting that Cowboys 2021 third-round pick Nahshon Wright is going to be cut before his rookie season even begins. Draft stock alone will grant the Oregon State corner extra lattitude and allow him plenty of opportunities to strut his stuff. And if mini-camp was any indiction, Wright is doing quite well in proving to everyone that he might not be the "head scratching" pick everyone thinks he is.

That being said, I do want point out that the athletic traits and skills of Wright and a couple other young defensive backs, Reggie Robinson II and Israel Mukuamu, are quite similar. Robinson was a pet cat of many last season before former defensive coordinator Mike Nolan brilliantly decided to move him to safety. Nolan's out, and new coordinator Dan Quinn is in, and he wasted no time putting Robinson right back at corner. The indecisiveness of how the Cowboys want to use him is about as frustrating as Michael Scott's vascetomy choices. Snip, snap! Snip, snap! Snip, snap!

The new leadership of Dan Quinn has Robinson back at the corner position, as the former Tulsa corner has the right attributes for Quinn's scheme. Similarly, Mukuamu fits into those plan as well, although the Cowboys might again being trying to move a corner to safety as that is where we've seen Mukuamu in camp. Both these players have the size to press and the speed to keep receivers from getting behind them.

The team has a plan for what type of players they want, and it wouldn't surprise me if any one of these three players ended up emerging as the team's most capable depth defensive back. Obviously, Wright has the edge because of the team's investment, but this battle will be determined on the football field.

Instead of Trysten Hill, watch out for Justin Hamilton

If you're not happy about a third-round pick taking a seat, then you're really not going to like this one. It's been a rough ride for the Cowboys 2019 second-round pick as he did next to nothing his rookie season. Then, when he was finally showing signs of life last year, he was lost for the year with a knee injury. And it doesn't really inspire confidence that the team has used premium draft capital on another 3-tech defensive tackle in each of the last two drafts. Just like that, they got a packed house for that position.

The Central Florida tackle has a little bit of a hill to climb as he has a few things working against him. For starters, he's still rehabbing from his injury, so he's missing out on precious time to impress his new coach. Additionally, second-year DT Neville Gallimore has now jumped him in experience as he's played in 14 games versus the 12 total games Hill has played in spread out over two seasons. Finally, the team just drafted Osa Odighizuwa, who is the first defensive lineman selected under Quinn so we already know the new coordinator is high on him.

While Hill falling out of favor in Dallas could be one surprise, another shocker could be hanging on to the very underrated Justin Hamilton. People forget that Hamilton actually played in 10 games for Dallas last year, and he's actually a decent 1-tech DT. Despite having some fan favorites in Brent Urban and Quinton Bohanna, the Cowboys don't have a clear path as to how their big-bodied defensive tackle position group is going to shake out. Don't sleep on the incumbent Hamilton to challenge the new guys for playing time.
DT Justin Hamilton@RonBohning / Twitter

Instead of Jeremy Sprinkle, watch out for Sean McKeon

When the Cowboys lost veteran tight Blake Bell in free agency, they turned around and signed another veteran in Jeremy Sprinkle. Both of these players are able blockers who serve a very specific role on the team. While signing Sprinkle is an affordable way to secure a very safe floor for that third tight end spot, his job is by no means locked down. And his biggest challenger will be second-year player Sean McKeon.

And undrafted free agent last season, McKeon actually played in 14 games for the Cowboys last year. A big part of being thrown into action was the loss of Blake Jarwin in the season opener, but that's not to say he didn't earn his playing time. He was signed to the team to add more in-line blocking ability to the roster, and that's what he gives them. Plus, don't be surprised if he takes a nice step forward in year two. He showed up in camp leaner and quicker and looks more impressive as a pass catcher.

Should the team lose Dalton Schultz in free agency next offseason, the team would love to have a viable replacement already on the roster for cheap. If McKeon can follow the same path as Schultz, he could be another blocking specialist who turns out to have more receiving skills that we realized.

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