Dallas Cowboys 53-Man Roster Projection: Who Will Step Up at DT?

After adding new pieces to their defense this offseason, who will the Dallas Cowboys keep on the team's final 53-man roster?

Following a disappointing end to last season, it was time for the Dallas Cowboys to make changes to their defense. Former defensive coordinator Dan Quinn went off to the Washington Commanders, and in comes old pal Mike Zimmer to take over a Cowboys unit that faded at the end of the season.

With Zimmer comes decades of experience and an entirely different style of coaching. Quinn was tough when he needed to be, but he was very much a player’s coach. Zimmer, meanwhile, is a much more hard-nosed coach who will lead with tough love.

Dallas Cowboys 53-Man Roster Projection

While the Cowboys haven’t added a ton of talent through free agency, they did attack what they believe to be their biggest needs defensively in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Although it’s still early in the offseason, it’s never too early to take a look into the future and try to predict what Dallas’ roster will look like come September.

After projecting Dallas’ 53-man roster on offense, it’s time to do the same on the defensive side of the ball and special teams:

Defensive Tackle (5)

Starters: Mazi Smith, Osa Odighizuwa

Backups: Chauncey Golston, Carl Davis, Justin Rogers

This is a group that will need to step up in a major way for the Cowboys in 2024. Odighizuwa is a steady presence in the middle of the defense who had a good year in 2023, but outside of that are a bunch of unknowns and needs for improvement.

Smith’s impact in his rookie season last year was minimal at best, and he will be counted on in a big way in Year 2. This group hinges on his development and just how much he can elevate his game in his second season.

Edge (5)

Starters: Micah Parsons, DeMarcus Lawrence

Backups: Sam Williams, Marshawn Kneeland, Tyrus Wheat

The top end of this group is among the best in the NFL. The combination of Parsons and Lawrence can compete with any one-two punch in the league. However, outside of that follows a common theme with the Cowboys roster, as relative unknowns are looking to be counted on.

Williams has been productive at times, but 2024 looks like his biggest chance to make an impact yet. Meanwhile, Kneeland is a rookie with a similar play style to Lawrence who the team is excited about.

Linebacker (5)

Starters: Eric Kendricks, Damone Clark, DeMarvion Overshown

Backups: Marist Liufau, Damien Wilson

This group will look almost completely different in 2024 than it did in 2023. With DC Zimmer in the fold now, the team will go back to three-LB looks, and last year’s project of Markquese Bell playing at this position will be done as he goes back to safety where he belongs.

Kendricks and Clark will be the elder statesmen of the group, while Overshown and Liufau are second-year and rookie players, respectively, with a combined zero regular season NFL experience, but both provide an intriguing ceiling that the team is excited about.

Cornerback (6)

Starters: Trevon Diggs, DaRon Bland, Jourdan Lewis

Backups: Caelen Carson, Israel Mukuamu, C.J. Goodwin (ST)

The Cowboys boast one of the best ball-hawking duos in the entire NFL. With Diggs and Bland manning the outside, and Lewis the man in the interior playing the nickel, the Cowboys’ starting CBs are as solid as anybody’s heading into the season.

For backups, it’s a little bit of an unknown as Mukuamu has flashed at times but hasn’t been able to stick at one spot, bouncing him around between CB and S throughout his career. With Zimmer in the fold, it gives him a fresh start and a chance to belong in the CB room where he feels most comfortable.

Carson is an intriguing rookie CB the Cowboys are excited about. He has confidence, size, and exciting college tape that could make him a real asset in this talented room.

Safety (4)

Starters: Malik Hooker, Donovan Wilson

Backups: Markquese Bell, Juanyeh Thomas

The safety room is a strength for the Cowboys. With Hooker being a quiet but steady presence in the back end, he is complemented by Wilson and his big-hitting ability in the box.

Add in Bell — who has already played a ton of second-level snaps and is back at his natural position — and Thomas — who many around the team are excited about going forward — and this is a perfectly balanced group that features experience and youth to provide confidence in the back end of the Cowboys’ defense.

Specialist (3)

Kicker: Brandon Aubrey

Punter: Bryan Anger

Long Snapper: Trent Sieg

This group is unchanged from 2023 and for good reason. Aubrey and Anger are at the top of their profession, and Sieg is as steady as they come. It’s an often overlooked operation, but top to bottom this group gives the Cowboys one of the best specialist units in the entire NFL.

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