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Cowboys Building a DL That Could Potentially Be Special

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Building DL That Could Potentially Be Special

If you paid somewhat close attention to the Dallas Cowboys over the past several years, then you know all too well that they haven't really invested very much in their defensive line. From the outside looking in, it seems as if they just don't value the guys in the trenches on the defensive side of the ball. But luckily, that could be changing.

The Dallas Cowboys have quietly built a pretty solid DL, and it has the potential to be something really special in 2018.

You could say that a healthy DeMarcus Lawrence is the main reason for an improved defensive line heading into 2018, and you'd probably be right. Lawrence finally lived up to his potential last year and was one of the best pass rushing defensive ends in the entire NFL.

Lawrence has always been a good run defender, but when a DE is equally good at both, it's difficult for opposing offenses to scheme ways to eliminate them. He has become the "War Daddy" the Dallas Cowboys have been searching for since DeMarcus Ware left.

Of course, Lawrence wasn't the only player to blow things up in 2017. The Dallas Cowboys had another player along the DL who finished ranked among the best defensive tackles in the NFL, David Irving.

DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving

Dallas Cowboys DL DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving

David Irving isn't built like a traditional defensive tackle, but the fact that he finished ranked among the best and only played in eight games last season tells you all you need to know. He was a disruptive force getting after the QB from the interior of the Cowboys defensive line and should be able to pick up right where he left off.

With DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving, the Dallas Cowboys defensive line already looks as if it could be scary good this season. But, it's the depth behind them that improves the odds of this unit becoming something special.

Taco Charlton, last year's first-round draft pick, showed a lot of improvement over the season last year and finished on a high note. If he can continue to progress, he could earn a starting role or at the very least be a good rotational piece.

Then there's the possibility of Randy Gregory rejoining the Cowboys. He can't really be counted on right now and there is no way of knowing what to expect since he's been away from the game so long, but he has the potential to be a difference maker.

But, that's not all. The Dallas Cowboys recently signed Kony Ealy to add even more depth to the defensive line. Ealy is full of untapped potential and the hope is that it will finally be released this season. Who better to bring out then Rod Marinelli?

The one area that could possibly take the Dallas Cowboys defensive line to the next level though is a truly dominating defensive tackle. They need more depth at the position, especially at the 1-technique. Maliek Collins filled in out of necessity last season, but it's not his best position.

If the Dallas Cowboys were able to come away with someone like Vita Vea in the draft, a DT who demands double teams and can free up the linebackers behind him, it would completely transform the DL and the rest of the defense as well.

Will the Dallas Cowboys defensive line be special in 2018?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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6 Comments
  • Turri Smith

    I’ve been saying it forever. If the Qb don’t have time that makes everything work better. Draft two LB GET YOUR SAFETY And the D is set

  • Michael White

    I like Vita Vea..but if we go another direction with the first pick them Poona Ford can be had in the 3rd our 4th rd…Malik Jefferson credited his play for freeing him up to make tackles…

  • Chet

    2 years ago everyone was predicting that Collins would be a perennial all pro. He played most of last year with a broken foot or he would have dominated at the 1 technique like he did as a rookie. He runs a 4.6 40 compared VV 5.1. I agree we need a 1 technique but in later rounds for depth. We need a dominate LB to pair up with Lee & Smith when they are healthy and to take over when they are not. This defense played its best the short time McClain was in the middle and he was huge kind of like Vander Esche but McClain wasn’t as fast.

    I would love to see them make 1 of 2 big splashes in the draft. 1. Trade up as high as they need to go to get Edwards and 2. trade up as high as they need to go to get G Quenton Nelson. I know I am dreaming but man would either of those moves be worth it and make the Cowboys instantly significantly better.

  • Matthew England

    I like that you said they haven’t invested in the dline and they don’t value it and then immediately follow that by naming 2 second round picks and 1first round pick from 3 of the last 4 years. How else can they show they value it? Good article otherwise

  • Chuck Wright

    Would love nothing more than this to be true. Both D Law and Irving are effectively in contract years so you expect to see their best. The good news on 1 Techs, there are 5-6 available this year who would be great fits besides VV (who I fear will be gone by 19) Payne Nnadi Settle, Poona Ford, BJ Hill Hurst (can play either) Fatukasi (UConn). Collins sliding back to his natural 3 would help too. How Dallas won 3 Super Bowls, they went 2 deep along the DL.

  • Tommy Davis

    If they lose David Irving, it’s back to the drawing board, it would set the defense back to searching for another war daddy. Lawrence and Irving together generates enormous pressure on opposing quarterbacks, adding a defensive tackle like Vita Vea would mean lights out, the Cowboys would then probably have the best Defensive line in the league.

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Can Jaylon Smith Challenge Vander Esch For Starting MIKE Role?

Kevin Brady

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In Season For Youth, Cowboys Must Make Tough Decision On Jaylon Smith

When the Dallas Cowboys selected Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch with their first round pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, the whole world basically assumed he would be the starting MIKE linebacker week one of the upcoming season.

After all, the Cowboys lost Anthony Hitchens to free agency and none of the injury replacements had much success during the 2017 season.

Now just a couple of months shy of that week one match up with the Carolina Panthers, a battle for that middle linebacker spot appears to be occurring.

Former 2016 second round pick Jaylon Smith has seemed to find his health, and his movement skills and agility look like they did back when he was at Notre Dame. Whether or not these offseason hype videos will actually mean anything on the field remains to be seen, but just the fact that Smith is working out and playing without the knee brace is obviously a good sign.

Unlike Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith did play for the Dallas Cowboys a year ago. Sure Smith had his share of growing pains, but he seemed to find his groove late in the season. It probably isn't a coincidence, though, that Smith's best games came when coming off the bench in a limited role and when playing beside veteran Sean Lee.How Will LB Jaylon Smith Best be Utilized in 2018?

During the offseason activity thus far Jaylon Smith has gotten the majority of snaps at middle linebacker, but Vander Esch has also been sidelined with an injured ankle. Leighton Vander Esch clearly fits the mold of a MIKE both physically and athletically, but at his best Jaylon Smith does as well.

Despite the resurgence of Jaylon Smith and the injury to Leighton Vander Esch, I still do expect Vander Esch to snag that MIKE role moving forward. While showing glimpses of productive play, Smith did not impress enough to earn him the unquestioned starting job last season, and may best fit as a SAM backer and situational pass rusher/blitzer in the current scheme.

Allowing Jaylon Smith to conserve his energy and provide a boost off the bench is the best way for the Cowboys to structure their defense. Of course, this is only true as long as Vander Esch becomes the player they expect him to be, though.

If Jaylon Smith does return to the player he was at Notre Dame prior to his horrific injury, the Cowboys will possess three incredibly rangy, athletic, and talented linebackers on their roster.

Of course, that if is a very big if at this point, however.



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Will Cowboys’ Performance VS NFC South Define 2018 Season?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Dak Prescott Weighs in on Cowboys "Dak-Friendly" Offense Approach

When thinking about how the Cowboys' 2017 season came to an end the day before Christmas after a disappointing loss to the Seattle Seahawks, we often forget the team needed some extra help in order to get to the playoffs. The NFC was a tough conference to play in last year... but it will only be tougher in 2018.

The NFC is way stronger than the AFC right now, at least in terms of depth.

The Cowboys will be sharing a division with the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Philadelphia Eagles, a team that only got stronger this offseason and will try to make a run for the NFC East title once again.

As good and promising as the Cowboys' roster is, it's only fair to admit that trying to get to the postseason this year might implicate running for a wildcard spot. Many teams will be fighting for a playoff berth late in the year but fortunately for Dallas, they will be able to control their destiny against a handful of this teams.

The Cowboys will play against the entire NFC South this season. Except for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, every team in the South division was fighting for a chance at January football heading into week 17.

The Saints, Falcons and Panthers all finished the season with double-digit wins last year, and there's little reason to believe they won't come back as strong as they were in 2017.

If the Cowboys are not able to beat the Eagles in the NFC East race, we'll be hearing about a lot of different playoff scenarios that will be needed in order to play in the postseason. Certainly, having the head-to-head advantage against the NFC South teams would go a long way, even if the team will play the Saints, Falcons and Panthers before December comes around.

If the Cowboys do manage to get back to their 2016-selves, no team in the league should be an "impossible" challenge for a powerful running-game based offense and a defense that can rush the passer consistently.

Of course, the NFC South is not the only challenging division in the conference. The NFC West will feature another three football teams that will be winning tons of games. The Rams, 49ers and Seahawks are all very likely to have winning records and be in the hunt once December comes around.

In a season that promises to be a "comeback" year for America's Team, the NFC promises to be a threatening conference from every direction. If the Cowboys will be able to overcome or not remains unknown and will stay that way until the season actually starts.

Tell me what you think about "Will Cowboys’ Performance VS NFC South Define 2018 Season?" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Cowboys en Español: 3 Escenarios Para el Futuro de David Irving

Mauricio Rodriguez

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- David Irving, #95

En la NFL, la falta de noticias en Junio generalmente significa buenas noticias. Los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys saben esto mejor que nadie y en caso de que lo hayan olvidado, David Irving se aseguró de recordarle a Cowboys Nation el porque de esta frase.

La semana pasada, se anunció que David Irving recibirá una suspensión de cuatro partidos por haber violado la política de abuso de substancias de la liga. Es la segunda suspensión que Irving recibe en años consecutivos y lógicamente, esto es preocupante para el equipo de los Dallas Cowboys.

Las últimas dos temporadas hemos visto a Irving convertirse en una pieza de suma importancia para la defensiva. El año pasado, Irving consiguió siete sacks (capturas) en sólo ocho juegos y se convirtió en un caza cabezas muy efectivo.

Demostrando ser uno de los jugadores más talentosos de su posición en la NFL, es difícil imaginar el futuro del #95 en la liga. Tras recibir un tender de segunda ronda hace unos meses (explico que es eso aquí), el futuro de Irving es muy incierto. Por eso, esta semana en Cowboys en Español, exploraremos tres escenarios posibles para el defensivo de 24 años.

#1 David Irving se va de Dallas prematuramente

Hace unos días, me dediqué a defender mi posición de que los Cowboys estarían cometiendo un error al cortar a David Irving. A pesar de que realmente despedirse de un defensivo como Irving parece muy poco probable, es un escenario que debemos discutir.

Irving ha sido un dolor de cabeza para el equipo en más de una ocasión. Dos suspensiones en años consecutivos no es una buena imagen para un jugador que busca un contrato jugoso al terminar el año.

Si Jason Garrett y la administración quieren "dar un mensaje" cortando a David Irving, ¿qué tanto serviría? Esta idea de enviar un mensaje, a la hora de pensarlo fríamente, parece una idea romántica de parte de nosotros los fans. Al final de cuentas, estamos hablando de un locker room lleno de jugadores adultos y profesionales, no de un grupo de niños.

Además, bien sabemos todos que Irving no es el único Cowboy que ha tenido problemas. ¿Será el hecho de que ha ocurrido dos años seguidos razón suficiente para dejarlo ir? Personalmente, no lo creo. Los Cowboys dejarían ir a un jugador muy bueno en una posición de necesidad.

Datone Jones, Jihad Ward y Maliek Collins podrán ser suficiente. Pero David Irving es especial en el campo. Mejor tenerlo por 12 juegos a tenerlo cero.

#2 Irving se queda para el 2018, pero no más allá

David Irving recibió un contrato de un año que le pagaba (antes de ser suspendido) 2.91 millones de dólares. Si hubiera demostrado que no era problemático y que podía mantenerse al 100% toda la temporada, probablemente hubiera recibido un gran contrato de los Cowboys o de otro equipo en la NFL.

Sin embargo, el dicho lo dice todo. "En la NFL, la disponibilidad es la mejor habilidad." Irving no se ha terminado de ganar la confianza necesaria para una gran extensión.

En este punto, Dallas puede esperar a que su tackle defensivo regrese de su suspensión, juegue doce juegos con ellos y les consiga un sack por juego por menos de tres millones de dólares. Después de eso, el equipo pude darse el lujo de dejarlo ir sin una extensión y verlo convertirse en un agente libre.

Does DT David Irving Have a Future With Cowboys?

Dallas Cowboys DT David Irving (Albert Pena / CSM)

#3 Irving se queda por más de un año

En este caso, hay dos "sub-escenarios." Suponiendo que, efectivamente, Irving regresa y juega como sabemos que puede hacerlo, no será tan fácil dejarlo ir. Si llega a sorprender y demuestra que realmente es quien creemos que es y consigue diez capturas en sólo doce juegos, ¿realmente no le dará el equipo una oportunidad?

La primera opción sería asignarle la etiqueta franquicia y obligarlo a jugar un año más para un equipo que busca desesperadamente un Super Bowl.

Si se sienten cómodos dándole el salario de una etiqueta franquicia para evitar perderlo, ¿podríamos culparlos después de que les dio por ejemplo, diez capturas? Yo, personalmente, no podría hacerlo.

La otra opción, y una que podría ser la más realista, es más simple. La inmadurez y los problemas de Irving le costarán la confianza y el interés de otros equipos y es posible que en un punto, Dallas sea el único equipo que le pueda brindar seguridad de trabajo.

De esta manera, Dallas podría ofrecerle una extensión de dos, tres o más años a un precio mucho más barato que el de cualquier DT que consiga dos dígitos de sacks.

✭✭✭✭✭

David Irving sin duda tiene un futuro incierto delante de él. Realmente sería una sorpresa verlo fuera de Dallas en el 2018, pero más allá, quien sabe lo que pueda pasar. Por ahora, esperemos que una vez que vuelva de la suspensión, esté en forma para ir detrás de los quarterbacks oponentes.

Con un poco de suerte, quizá nos olvidaremos de esto en Noviembre.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: 3 Escenarios Para el Futuro de David Irving" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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