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3 Weakest Positions for Cowboys Ahead of 2022 Offseason

As the prepare for the 2022 , dealing with the biggest holes and weakest points of the roster is the obvious objective. Based on the players they’re potentially losing in free agency and who’s left if they go, we’re going to look at the team’s three greatest areas of concern based on current talent.

This list is based on this article from earlier in the week; a 53-man roster for 2022 built solely with players currently under contract. Even if you think Dallas is going to do everything possible to re-sign talents like , , Jayron Kearse, or others, those deals are not yet signed and those players don’t currently factor into the analysis.

Based on that mock roster the Cowboys clearly have a lot of work to do over the next few months. But this isn’t a reason to lose faith.

In fact, despite all that Dallas needs to accomplish this offseason, early from Sports Betting Dime has the Cowboys with some of the best odds (+1600) to win the next season. They’re current the seventh-highest favorite in the NFL and fourth-highest among teams.

Validating that optimism starts now, and here are the three positions where I think the Cowboys will have to make either the most or biggest moves to be able to contend in 2022.

For the record, I’m focusing on just offensive and defensive positions here. It’d be easy to just throw kicker out here with being one of the league’s worst the last two seasons. But since that’s so obvious, let’s dig a little deeper into the two main phases of the game.

Connor McGovern
Cowboys G

Guard

If only we could just clone and play him at every o-line position. But until that technology arrives, Dallas will just have to figure out their big problem at the old-fashioned way.

It would be bad enough if , the starter for most of the last four years, was still under contract. He’s been more of a liability than strength so far and was a machine last year. It got so bad that Dallas even benched him from Weeks 10-13 to see what backup Connor McGovern could do.

Unfortunately, that failed experiment only proved that neither of the Connors was really a great long-term option. That’s why Dallas will likely let Williams go in free agency and do their best to keep McGovern as a versatile backup rather than a vulnerable starter.

Between the penalties and other general performance issues in 2021, left guard was arguably the worst culprit in a bad overall year for the Cowboys’ offensive line. Offensive certainly contributed but at least Tyron Smith and La’el Collins still have the potential to get back to -worthy form.

The situation at guard is more critical. The previous starter wasn’t that good, his backup was even worse, and now the starter is probably leaving the roster. Finding a new LG should be one of the Cowboys’ top offseason priorities.

Jabril Cox, Giants
Cowboys LB

Linebacker

Much like Zack Martin at guard, Micah Parsons is a phenom but unfortunately can’t do it all on his own. The potential exodus of LB talent in free agency leaves this spot woefully thin, requiring some major attention and multiple moves to field a solid group for 2022.

With Keanu Neal, , and Luke Gifford (restricted) all this offseason, that would leave Parsons as the only experienced linebacker on the roster. Second-year stud Jabril Cox can hopefully help the cause but got little playing time as a rookie, plus now has to overcome a season-ending ACL injury.

Replying on Cox to play a major role next year would be scary enough. But behind him are just two completely unestablished prospects in Francis Bernard and Devante Bond. If they earn a larger role during then good for them, but getting it by default would likely lead to disaster.

At the very least, Dallas needs a strong off-ball linebacker to compliment Parsons in the nickel defense. They need someone who can hold up in coverage and run support when Micah is tasked with rushing the passer or otherwise lining up at the line of scrimmage.

After a strong showing late in the year, Vander Esch may have earned his way into another shot with the team. It may be nothing more than a one-year deal but, assuming he wants to remain a Cowboy, Leighton may accept it to prove himself and hopefully get a much better contract in 2023 from Dallas or someone else.

Whether it’s bringing back Vander Esch and Neal or replacing them, the Cowboys clearly have a lot of work to do at linebacker. At the very least, one significant addition is needed to stabilize the middle of the field and keep Parsons free to be the versatile weapon that he is.

Donovan Wilson
Cowboys S

Safety

It’s bad enough that Jayron Kearse is a again but so are Malik Hooker and . That leaves Donovan Wilson as the only qualified starter at safety and a glaring issue for the other starting spot and depth.

The last thing anyone wants to see is worming his way back up into a starting job. He’s fine as a backup and special teamer but has never done much with his occasional opportunities in a larger role.

That leaves just developmental projects Israel Mukuamu and Tyler Coyle as the other options. Mukuamu was a 6th-Round pick last year with intriguing size but still needs work to ever become a starter. Coyle was an last year with good athleticism but, again, more raw potential than proven merit.

Even Donovan Wilson isn’t above suspicion. He only started three games last year while battling and inconsistent play. A healthier run next year will hopefully get him back to things we saw in his 2020 breakout, but his spot in the starting lineup is far from assured after last season.

Depending on how they feel about Wilson the Cowboys may be looking to fill two starting jobs this offseason. Bringing back Kearse, their best safety and a veteran leader on defense, should be a priority. Neither Hooker or Kazee did enough that Dallas shouldn’t look for better options in free agency or the draft.

Like last year, safety appears to remain in a state of major transition. It yielded a great pickup with Jayron Kearse in the previous offseason, so hopefully Dallas can make another shrewd move in 2022.

~ ~ ~

Narrowing this down to three positions wasn’t easy. A strong cases can be made at , but at least Amari Cooper and make for a solid starting duo. was another contender but they still have Tank and I like and ’s potential better than what Dallas is working with at the positions above.

Ultimately the Cowboys will need to fix more than just guard, linebacker, and safety to be competitive in 2022. But If they don’t address these three areas, any work done at other spots may not matter.

What do you think?

Jess Haynie

Written by Jess Haynie

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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3 Comments

  1. Agree with your three choices based upon current players under contract. Would consider that interior D-Line may be more risk than the Safety position. Although Gallimore and Odiguizuwa can still improve – the run stopping DT is still a big hole.
    Hopefully we can
    1. Resign Kearse and Hooker. with Hooker fully healthy and in the system, I believe he would outplay Wilson and Kazee at FS. Potentially better FA safeties also coming off major injury.
    2. Draft Linderbaum or top 4 guard in round one. If the center is a notch or two better then LG becomes less of issue (If Smith stays healthy of course)
    3. Draft run stopping DT in round 2
    4. Keep LVE and pray Cox recovers fast and can win the starting job. Draft run stopping LB in 3rd. Need the depth and options.

  2. I think they could fix LG by moving La’el back there. Make Steele the starting RT. Moving Steele right to left and back again seemed to mess with him too much. Doug Free used to have the same problem. Some guys can quickly adjust to the differing footwork, some aren’t as gifted, but are perfectly fine if you let them concentrate on one side.

    McGovern “could” develop further this offseason and step into the spot. Remember, his missed his entire rookie season due to a torn Pec. So, he was behind in experience and strength training through 2020. 2021 was basically his sophomore season. That would make this year 3, when a lot of players make that big leap. It “could” happen. But, yeah, hard to bank on that based on what we’ve seen so far.

    I wonder how much of a dark horse Alarcon is at LG? At 6’7″, he’s a bit tall for the interior (Leonard Davis was 6’6″), but he’s a beefy guy at that height at 320+lbs. He’s got good length and feet as a former T, but the question is if he can get enough bend to not lose leverage on the inside. It’ll be interesting to see if they continue his development at G or continue to bounce him back and forth, stunting his development.

    I still prefer Farniok as a developmental C than G. Sure, he might make a good backup G, but I really like him as a hedge against a Biadasz lack of development, regression or injury.

    As far as LB goes, only thing I’d point out is Bernard is an ERFA. Merely a technicality to get him signed, but I wonder if he’s worth it beyond just filling a hole? He strikes me as a more athletic Kyle Wilber. Somebody who is a core ST’er, but you cringe if they have to step into the line-up on D. He also seems to be an injury liability every preseason and regular season. And speaking of injuries, Bond is almost always injured. As a Sooners fan, I’d love to see him have success. But, I don’t have a lot of fond memories of his time at Norman and the D he was a part of.

    Yeah, Safety is an absolute mess right now. I don’t see a true center fielder on the team right now. I have no faith in Wilson to play anything other than in the box. Mukuamu ended the season on IR and got hardly any playing time before that. At 6’4″, 205lbs, I just don’t see him as a FS type. Thompson just keeps disappointing.

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