DT Justin Rogers has an unusually clear path to Cowboys roster spot

As a seventh-round draft pick, defensive tackle Justin Rogers is hardly guaranteed to make the Cowboys’ roster this season. But compared to most late-round picks, Rogers’ path to the 53 is fairly simple. He may actually have an easier time getting onto Dallas’ roster this season than some of the rookies taken before him.

Rogers comes out of Auburn as a pure nose tackle or 1-technique prospect. At 6’2” and 330 pounds, he’s here to hopefully help fill the void left by the departure of veteran Johnathan Hankins. Dallas is hoping that last year’s first-rounder, Mazi Smith, will be ready for the starting gig there. They also have have 32-year-old journeyman Carl Davis in the mix for backup duty, but would naturally prefer someone younger with upside. That’s why Rogers, 13 picks away from being Mr. Irrelevant in this year’s draft class, may have an easier time making the team than WR Ryan Flournoy or OT Nathan Thomas.

Barring some other talent acquisition moves between now and camp, Rogers only has to beat Davis to get on the 53. In fact, both of them could be on the team if the Cowboys don’t add more defensive tackles between now and Week 1. As it stands, Rogers, Davis, Smith, and Osa Odighizuwa are the only DTs listed on the roster. We do expect that to change before the Cowboys head to Oxnard, but for now these guys would make the team simply by default.

Rogers’ fellow Day 3 picks have much tougher roads. Flournoy, a sixth-round pick, is going to be in a battle royal for the bottom of the WR depth chart. Even if the Cowboys keep six receivers this year, he’s in a competitive bunch with Jalen Brooks, Martavis Bryant, Jalen Cropper, David Durden, among other prospects.

Nathan Thomas is in for a similar struggle on the offensive line. With his higher-rated classmates Tyler Guyton and Cooper Beebe coming in, that now puts Brock Hoffman and T.J. Bass in the backup mix. Throw in returning prospects like Asim Richards, Josh Ball, and Matt Waletzko, plus veteran Chuma Edoga, and Thomas is going to have to hit the ground running to not wind up on the practice squad.

Even a fifth-round pick, CB Caelen Carson, has more competition at his position than Rogers is facing. We may not think much of Nahshon Wright or Israel Mukuamu’s upside at this point, but at least they’re bodies with some experience. Eric Scott is also back, hoping to regain his positive buzz from last year’s camp. Carson feels like a lock for the 2024 roster but, at least compared to Rogers, still has to beat some guys to get there.

We’ve seen plenty of Day 3 picks, even fourth-rounders, not make the team as rookies. And if the Cowboys do add some more defensive tackles over the next few months, Justin Rogers could be the next one. But right now, like Quinton Bohanna from 2021-2022, Rogers feels like a safe bet to provide some beef on the DT depth chart. It’s an unusually clear path to the roster for such a late pick, but that’s the result of Dallas’ lack of attention at the position.


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