The Dallas Cowboys have had their moments in recent years. At times, they have looked competitive; at other times, not so much. However, going forward, they do look close to being ready to become contenders once again. If they are going to step up their game next year, they are going to need to improve in one particular spot on the field.
Dallas has to get better on the defensive line.
Yes, they do have one of the best defensive ends in the league in DeMarcus Lawrence. So far, it sounds like the Cowboys are intent on signing him to a new contract. While they do have some good players along the rest of the line, they are thin on the front and are about to become even thinner.
It appears that the Cowboys are going to see two defensive linemen get suspended for a good chunk of the 2019 season. Randy Gregory has already been handed an indefinite suspension for violating the league’s drug policy once again. While it hasn’t been announced yet, it sounds like the team could see David Irving suspended as well (Irving may not be missed as much since he rarely played last season; Gregory will be missed).
However, even if those two were playing this coming season, Dallas would still likely be in the market for help on the defensive front. The Cowboys were one of the better run defenses in the league last season (No. 5; 94.6 yards/game allowed). Their pass rush, on the other hand, needs some work if the Cowboys are going to truly contend in today’s NFL.
Last season they finished the year with 39 sacks, good enough to be ranked 16th in the league. The year before that they only had 38 and before that, just 36. In a league that lives and dies by the pass, if you can’t stop the pass, it can be pretty hard to win.
Lawrence will give the Cowboys a decent one, but if he doesn’t get any help, offenses will double and triple him until someone else becomes a threat. Next to Lawrence, Randy Gregory had the second most last season with six, but we know he isn’t going to play.
They need to acquire some help either in the draft, free agency, or both. They don’t have a pick in the first round this year, so the best pass rushers will be gone. However, these are guys that are expected to be middle to late-round picks they should pay some attention to:
- Charles Omenihu, DE, Texas: He didn’t rack up sacks while he was in college, but he was a solid, dependable player who could grow into something more by playing with and learning from a guy like Demarcus Lawrence.
- Terry Beckner Jr., DT, Missouri: While he was very productive in college, a lot of teams will shy away from him until the late rounds because of his injury history, specifically, torn ligaments in both knees. The last time the Cowboys took a risk on someone with injury issues (Jaylen Smith), it worked out. Lightning could strike again.
- Daniel Wise, DL, Kansas: It may be hard to believe considering how bad the team has been, but they do have some good football players at Kansas. But since the team has been so bad in recent years, the better players could easily fall under the radar on Draft Day. That could make Wise a steal in the late rounds of the draft.
There will also be some affordable guys available in free agency:
- Benson Mayowa, DE: He was good (but not great) when he was with the Cowboys back in 2016 and 17. Last season, he wasn’t bad for the Cardinals with four sacks. Should there be interest on both sides, it shouldn’t cost too much to sign him.
- Dion Jordan, DE: It may be crazy to bring in another guy with off-field issues, but when he is clean and cleared to play, Jordan has talent. Many teams will shy away from him because of his history, but Dallas has never been scared to take risks with signings. Why start now?
- Alex Okafor, DE: He may be a little more expensive than other free agents, but the 28-year old still has some good years left in him despite his recent injury woes.
The Cowboys have decent odds to win the Super Bowl next season at 20-1 (according tothe bookmaker Betway Sports as of 5 March). Should the find some help for the defensive line, chances are good those odds will improve.