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Brent Urban, Tarell Basham Bring Experience and Versatility to Cowboys Defensive Front

The Dallas Cowboys had arguably the worst defense in its history in 2020. They were 31st against the run, 28th in points allowed and gave up a franchise-record 473 points.

With that being said, upgrading the defense is the focus for the Cowboys this offseason, and Thursday they took a step forward in fixing their weakest unit. They signed defensive lineman Brent Urban and edge rusher Tarell Basham to one-year and two-year contracts respectively as versatile upgrades on the Cowboys defensive line.

Urban is a former fourth-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in the 2014 NFL draft after spending a year in the CFL. A torn ACL and a torn biceps limited Urban to play only six games in his first two seasons and he recorded just one sack. In 2016, he played all 16 games and had two sacks.

The next season, Urban suffered a foot injury that required surgery as he missed 13 games. In 2018, he once again played in all 16 games but only registered a half-sack. The last two seasons have been his most consistent at staying healthy as he’s played 29 out of a possible 32 games and registered 2.5 sacks.

Urban isn’t going to blow you away with sack numbers, however, he’s very stout against the run. He had a run defense grade of 79.7 in 2018 and it went up to 83.7 last season which was the third-best for all interior defensive linemen.

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Brent Urban who was a mid-season signing for the #Bears last year has proved his worth this season. A solid interior guy who seemingly is always disrupting things in the backfield for opposing offenses. #DaBears pic.twitter.com/bYrGb9ESVE

He can play as an interior run defender or on the edge while also providing special teams value (has logged 370 snaps in his career).

Basham is a former third-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2017. He’s played in 58 out of a possible 64 games during his career which is a position sign when it comes to his availability. After only two sacks in his first two seasons, he’s picked it up a little lately. He added two sacks in 2019 but last season was the best of his career with 3.5 sacks while also forcing three fumbles.

During his college days at the University of Ohio, Basham amassed 27 sacks as a defensive end. In the NFL, however, he’s mostly played as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Under Dan Quinn, Basham will go back to being an edge rusher and add to the Cowboys outside rush with DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, Ron’Dell Carter, and Bradley Anae.

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Last season, according to Pro Football Focus, Basham had a run defense grade of 71.7 which was 30th for all edge rushers. Much like Urban, Basham provides special teams help as well with 579 snaps logged in his career.

These signings won’t get major headlines but the Cowboys have added two solid rotational pieces and are showing a commitment to being much better not only against the run but as an overall defensive unit.

What do you think?

Matthew Lenix

Written by Matthew Lenix

I write dope stuff about the Dallas Cowboys and what not.

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  1. Well the Cowboys are moving in a positive way to strengthen a particular weak spot. Gives us more flexibility at draft time.

  2. We have Blake Jarwin who, if not for an ACL injury in the very 1st game along with Dak’s injury could have had pro bowl #s in’20. In addition, Dalton Schultz stepped up in place of Jarwin showing much improvement. Big D should keep their focus strictly on improving a “horrid” Defense, especially interior line with a 2nd priority “beefing” the O-line. As much as we like Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, I’m not optimistic either will play “healthy” for half a season , nevermind the grind of 16 games and hopefully a Playoff run. Lae’l Collins is also coming off major hip surgery and who knows whether h’ell rebound at 100% this season.

  3. THROWUP- I don’t see our draft strategy changing much based on these FA signings. Most will be back ups or rotational players at best. If we sign FS KAZEE he may start, but he doesn’t excite me either. Don’t think that would be a big upgrade. These signings are mainly for depth purposes. The starters and potential impact players will come via the draft.

    As far as PITTS goes. Not that it matters but most of the fan base would have a stroke if he was our selection at #10 what with our defensive needs. HOWEVER of all the players they are considering he probably has the biggest upside and pro bowl potential. IF he is utilized in the right manner. If we miss out on SURTAIN/FARLEY and PITTS is the BPA then u have to at least consider it. But I think in that scenario the cowboys are more likely to trade down and get HORN, BARMORE or MOEHRIG.

    With Quinn using that single high safety defense, the FS is extremely important. Gotta have one with great range and ball skills like he had with E Thomas in Seattle. Wouldn’t shock me if they traded down and snagged MORHRIG who is rising fast on the draft boards.

  4. PATRICK BARBER- Good post and ur right u can never go wrong building from the trenches outward. The DL and OL was obviously a big weakness for us, particularly DT. Improve those two area and it affects the whole team.

    I expect they will draft OL and DT starting in the 3rd round, maybe a little earlier if the right player falls to them. With 10 draft picks we have the flexibility to move up in the draft if again a targeted player at a position of need starts falling.

  5. Gary, fully agree with your assesment on PITTS. But I believe Surtain or Farley will be available. Philly will draft PITTS if available to them. They are very thin on receivers and they need to support Hurtz. Draft will be exciting.

  6. JAMES- Yea ur probably right on both counts. But the draft can be very unpredictable which is part of what makes it so exciting.

  7. TUTX88, Pitts is looking more like a possibility as we add FAs. Still think we need a stud LB, which we can get in second rd. Of course CB is also a priority. If Pitt is there, I would not be surprised if they pull trigger. They just signed Neal, so safety is probably not priority early. Cowboys are making some good moves here.

  8. You all bring out good points , my thing about Jarwin is that his game was about explosiveness, will he still have that after his ACL ? I like Shultz but i think he’s just a decent all round TE , not sure about his ceiling , i think he looked great last year more so cuz of our 3 WRs threats and AD who loves his TEs , and he needs a new contract after this anyways , so I’m not sure we’re a lock at TE

    Now is that worth a 10th overall pick ? Maybe , maybe not , i wouldn’t rule it out , Pitts would put this O over the top , now you could make comparisons to Chiefs O , and we seen there success , 3 Conference Ship appearances, 2 SB appearances, and 1 SB win the last 3 seasons ,

    Pitts is this year’s Ceedee , if he falls to you , you’ll have a tough time passing on him , and we saw , we got Ceedee and we got the guy we were wanting to pick at the Ceedee pick in Diggs at the 2nd pick last year ,

    My ideal top 3 picks this year would be

    Pitts/ LB Parsons

    Safety , Grant ( Moehrig probably won’t be there )

    And Melifonwu

  9. Parsons to give us speed and athleticism at LB

    Grant to pair up with Neal and create a bit of a competition at safety

    And Meli to give DQ another rangy athletic CB to work with

  10. Throwup88- That’s what I’m thinking. Surtain/Farley look like they could be good, but will they be great? We need to get a great player with that #10 pick. Parsons is the best defensive player in the draft period.

    If not Parsons i would trade down and get FS Moehrig. Quinn plays a defense that uses a single high safety that requires a stud with tremendous range and instincts. Moehrig is the best at doing that. If not Moehrig they better get a good one at #44 maybe R Grant.

  11. Yeah agreed , wouldn’t mind trading down either, it’ll be quite interesting to see what direction they go , Parsons is my number 1 target , BY FAR , Pitts would be close just cuz of talent maybe not cuz of a Necessity ,

    I like Farley but injury concerns me and he may not be there , A LOT of Mocks I’ve seen has him going to Denver right before us , so we may not have a choice at 10 , and imo , i like Horn more than Surtain , so either go with Horn at 10 , or trade back and maybe he’ll still be there , or get Barmore or Moehrig ,

    Whatever the case , I’d like any of these scenarios

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