The three biggest needs for the Dallas Cowboys coming into the offseason were safety, cornerback, and defensive tackle. Everything starts up front, though, and the Cowboys have put themselves in a position to aggressively pursue secondary talent early in the NFL Draft by adding interior linemen Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe to the roster.
McCoy was the first domino to fall on the defensive line when the former six-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro inked a three-year deal worth 18.3 million. With former starter Maliek Collins signing with the Las Vegas Raiders, McCoy slides right into the 3-tech role (right of center) and gives the Cowboys a much more proven commodity than the aforementioned Collins. Over his career, McCoy has 334 total tackles and 59.5 sacks, registering at least five in each of the last eight seasons. His durability has also been very good, playing in 139 out of a possible 160 games with 123 starts. Playing next to the soon to be reinstated Randy Gregory will make the Cowboys very formidable on the right side of the defensive line.
That left the nose tackle position to get a boost, and the Cowboys did just that on Wednesday. After a few days of ironing out details, Poe agreed to terms with the team to add yet another interior defensive line piece. He spent his first five seasons with the Kanas City Chiefs (2012-2016) where he received two Pro Bowl nods and one All-Pro selection. After a year with the Atlanta Falcons, he’s spent the last two seasons with the Carolina Panthers, playing right next to the aforementioned McCoy in 2019. Over his eight seasons in the NFL, Poe has registered 278 total tackles and 20.5 sacks. Much like McCoy durability hasn’t been an issue for Poe as he’s played in 121 out of a possible 128 games logging 118 starts. Even if former starter Antwaun Woods, who is an exclusive right free agent is retained, Poe is an instant upgrade at the 1-tech (left of center).
Now that the defensive line has been upgraded in free agency, the Cowboys don’t have to add another piece until round three or even day three of the NFL Draft and can turn their attention to the secondary. With starters Byron Jones and Jeff Heath finding new homes, the secondary definitely has holes to fill.
Cornerbacks CJ Henderson out of Florida and Alabama’s Trevon Diggs have been names linked to the Cowboys with the 17th overall pick. Also, Grant Delpit out of LSU and Alabama’s Xavier McKinney have been popular choices for the Cowboys at safety in some mock drafts. Southern Illinois’s Jeremy Chinn, Minnesota’s Antoine Winfield, Lenoir-Rhyne’s Kyle Dugger, Ohio State’s Damon Arnette, and LSU’s Kristian Fulton are all viable options in the secondary as well in the early rounds of the draft.
All these options were made possible by the strategic additions of McCoy and Poe. Not only can the Cowboys now add secondary pieces, but they could even add another weapon in the passing game for Dak Prescott in maybe round three with this extremely deep wide receiver class. The Cowboys front office has now given the team tremendous draft flexibility in April.