Yesterday, in Part Three of our Camp Preview Series, we talked about which position on the 2016 Cowboys roster was going to be the strongest. Naturally, it’s now time to ask…
What Will be the Weakest Position on the Team?
Jess Haynie ( @CowboysAddicts ) – Even without the suspensions, defensive end would probably still be my pick. I feel good about DeMarcus Lawrence in his third year, given that he had seven sacks in the last eight games of 2015. Still, he’s going to miss four weeks and everyone behind him is unproven. The Randy Gregory news only adds to the drama and the concern. Thankfully (and sadly), Rod Marinelli is used to not getting much out of his defensive ends.
Kevin Brady ( @KevinBrady88 ) – Right defensive end. This one’s a no-brainer for me, especially since our weakest point on the entire defensive line will have to face off with (usually) the other team’s strongest point, their left tackle, each and every week. Randy Gregory was the projected week one starter here prior to his suspension, but now the position remains in purgatory as the Cowboys surf through rookies and unknowns looking for an answer. Benson Mayowa, Charles Tapper, and Ryan Russell seem to be the ones competing for the spot, and while I like all three of the players, I don’t know how ready to play they’ll be Week One of this season.
RJ Ochoa ( @RJOchoa ) – I’ve been vocal about the fact that the Cowboys have displayed a sense of arrogance when it comes to certain elements of 2016’s roster construction. They’ve completely dismissed the porous play from Kellen Moore that we saw in 2015 and are choosing to close their eyes, stick their fingers in their ears, and say “lalalala.” Dak Prescott is fine and dandy, but the backup quarterback crew is a dud.
Sean Martin ( @ShoreSportsNJ ) – While I am not as down as most about the overall situation the Cowboys find themselves in at defensive end, it still has to be considered their weakest position. Get as excited as you would like about Benson Mayowa, Ryan Russell, Jack Crawford, David Irving, and whoever else Rod Marinelli decides to throw on the edge, but the reality is that outside of DeMarcus Lawrence this team does not have a single pass rusher that has proven they can generate consistent pressure on the quarterback. In a league where games are so heavily determined by the passing game, that’s simply not good for a Cowboys team that wants to make a serious playoff run this season.
Brian Martin ( @bmart0204 ) – I think the defensive end position is probably the weakest, at least to start the season. The suspensions handed down to Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory really put the Cowboys defense in a tough situation. No one knows who will start at defensive end the first month of the 2016 season, and that’s why I believe it’s the weakest position right now. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli seems to get the best out of his players and he will have to work his magic once again with his defensive ends.
Bryson Treece ( @BrysonTreece ) – Linebackers. Even before Rolando McClain’s suspension the linebackers were a toss-up. Signing Justin Durant helps some, but he’s not going to be the difference alone. The top LBs are all risky. RoMac is suspended; Durant and Sean Lee are both injury prone. Anthony Hitchens didn’t improve much in 2015, and Damien Wilson got snubbed after New Orleans in 2015. Several young guys with a chance to step up, but stepping up hasn’t been a common sight on this defense the last several years. The lack of strength, and inability to stay healthy, are sores this team must face with or without the suspended players, and the situation on the line won’t be helped any by a lack of solid LB play. But I realize that I’m in the minority here.
Ian Koplowitz ( @BleedingTheStar ) – By bringing on Justin Durant, I think you can safely take the linebacker room out of consideration here. So having said that, you have to say that defensive end is the most questionable position heading into camp. Even with Demarcus Lawrence tallying 8 sacks last season, everyone after him is a question mark. In a league ruled by passing, arguably the most important aspect of playing defense is getting to the quarterback. If these defensive ends can’t find a way to do that, it could be a long year.
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Here are the categories still to come this week…
All of this, and much more, as Inside The Star helps get you ready for another season of Dallas Cowboys football!