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Cowboys Defense: Bigger Need at Safety or Defensive End?

Sean Martin



Cowboys Defense: Bigger Need at Safety or Defensive End

The 2018 NFL Draft from Dallas is coming up quickly, on a league calendar that has not yet officially entered the new year. This hasn't stopped many teams from turning these last few weeks into opportunities for improvement, with trades, releases, and free agent agreements all taking place.

As expected, the Dallas Cowboys have been quiet. For better or worse, it feels safe to say they'll remain relatively quiet through free agency - relying once again on this year's draft haul to contribute right away.

With ten total picks in this draft, the Cowboys are in a great position to improve the overall depth of their team. Primarily in need of starters on defense, the Cowboys could look to upgrade their pass rush or add another starting-caliber safety early in this draft.

Having recently covered a DE prospect that would make sense for the Cowboys in Harold Landry, let's compare this need to their others in a developing secondary.

Dallas Cowboys Defensive Ends

Cowboys Planning

Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence

Current players under contract: Taco Charlton, DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, Charles  Tapper

Thanks to DeMarcus Lawrence, the Cowboys sustained a pass rush for the first time in a long time this season. Setting the tone up front at the LDE position, Lawrence was a dominant pass rusher with the help of Maliek Collins and David Irving inside.

Lawrence's dominance and ensuing franchise tag that's been placed on him for 2018 may have one downside though. Taco Charlton -- the Cowboys first round pick of 2017 -- is best at this same left end position, as he was in college.

With Tank and Taco rushing off of the strong side, and Benson Mayowa already released by the team, the Cowboys should still be in the market for their next great RDE. The days of relying on Randy Gregory to ever become this player are unfortunately over in Dallas, although he is eligible to apply for reinstatement.

Stopping here with their overall commitment to getting better in the trenches on both sides of the ball would not be smart for the Cowboys, and adding another talented pass rusher to join this solid group could have huge implications for this defense.

Dallas Cowboys Safeties

Cowboys Need Depth of 2017 Draft to Shine in 2018 1

Dallas Cowboys S Xavier Woods

Current players under contract: Jameill Showers, Xavier Woods, Jeff Heath, Kavon Frazier

Byron Jones' move from S to CB this offseason is a positive one, as it allows one of the most athletic defenders in the entire NFL to play his ideal position. His absence could be felt at safety given the Cowboys' current depth here, with plenty of potential for Kris Richard to work with but little experience.

With Jones, Jourdan Lewis, and Chidobe Awuzie expected to start at CB, the Cowboys should feel great about their ability to cover on the back end. Helping these cornerbacks with adequate safety play needs to be prioritized, as Jeff Heath should remain a rotational player.

Rookie Xavier Woods and Kavon Frazier both flashes at times in various safety roles this season, and both have the ability to play down in the box. This means that the Cowboys need at safety remains a deeper play maker, a role Jones was never able to fit.

Similarly to their situation at DE, the acquisition of another safety could help the Cowboys get the most out of the players listed above - all of whom showing enough promise/consistency to earn snaps next season.

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Although free agency is far from the Dallas Cowboys' preferred method of roster building, their approach in these coming weeks before the draft could tell Cowboys Nation a lot about their outlook on defense.

This defense is incredibly close to coming out of the shadows of the Cowboys offense, becoming a top unit as opposed to one responsible for "protecting the lead" and "not being the reason the Cowboys lose".

Both defensive end and safety are not particularly deep positions in this upcoming draft, only putting further pressure on the Cowboys' self-scouting to prepare for selecting 19th overall.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Defense: Bigger Need at Safety or Defensive End?" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Pleasant NJ, no we're not how you think we are. Host of "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. You may @ me: @SeanMartinNFL.

  • Chuck Wright

    ???? 1 tech is by far the biggest need/hole. Followed by S then LB. In fact drafting a top flight/make an impact day one 1 tech will make both LB and S instantly better. Not to mention the pass rushers.

    • Sean Martin

      I agree with their need at 1T, but they’re not going to draft that position in the first round. DE and SAF are viable options, however.

  • winstar

    Safety and more-so DE is down the list. I am of the opinion that LB is the priority even if we keep Hitch. That’s hard for me to admit as much as I want Vea or Payne. Tyron and Lee killed us last season with injuries. Dez and Prescott didn’t help along with Elliott’s suspension. I was proud of Morris and Smith but Elliott being gone got into Prescott’s head. The FO better get serious or we will be back here next year singing the same song. BTW, OG is a higher priority than S.

  • EverybodyTalks

    To answer the question of DE or S ??? —- I’m going with Safety, especially with Byron going to CB. The DEs we have are a good rotation, w/o even considering the status of Randy Gregory. I agree with the comments on DT1 and that is where we could really strengthen the line. The good thing is DT1&3 are deep in this draft. The reason I say DT1&3 is because of the comment by Stephen Jones. He stated that they would consider a DT1, but only if that player also had DT3 attributes. So to me, that includes Vita and DaRon. Plus in other rounds, we could select other DT1&3s such as Nathan Shepherd, Poona Ford, Desmond Harrison, to name just a few.

Star Blog

Free Agent CB Orlando Scandrick Joining Washington Redskins

Jess Haynie



Orlando Scandrick

Just two days after being released by the Dallas Cowboys, cornerback Orlando Scandrick has found a new home in the nation's capitol. After 10 seasons in Dallas, Scandrick is signing with the rival Washington Redskins.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Redskins and Orlando Scandrick have agreed to a 2-year deal worth a max value of $10M, source said. From Dallas to a rival.

By joining Washington after leaving Dallas, Scandrick follows in the footsteps of many ex-Cowboys: Terrell McClain, Jason Hatcher, Stephen Bowen, and even Deion Sanders to name a few.

Last week, Orlando reportedly requested his release from Dallas. It was widely expected that he would be a salary cap casualty anyway, though, and especially with the young stockpile of cornerbacks the Cowboys currently have.

Dallas has three young corners they believe in with Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Anthony Brown. There is also talk that Byron Jones could be moving back to CB next year.

Scandrick, 31, will get to stay in the NFC East and now cover some of his former teammates. Give the reportedly salary, he should at least be the slot corner for Washington next year if not a starter.

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Star Blog

Upgrading the Offensive Line Cowboys Top Offseason Priority?

Brian Martin



Upgrading Offensive Line Cowboys Top Offseason Priority?

Despite the displeasure by the majority of fans, the Dallas Cowboys continue to hold things close to the vest with their approach to free agency. It's definitely not the most popular approach and tends to drive fans crazy, but things could start heating up now that the free-agent market is starting to settle.

Looking from the outside in, we can only speculate as to which positions the Dallas Cowboys may prioritize in free agency and in the draft that matter. Earl Thomas and the safety position has been the most popular topic of discussion throughout the free agency process, but it looks as if the Cowboys are narrowing their focus on upgrading and adding depth to their offensive line.

Marcus Martin

Free-agent C/OG Marcus Martin

This is just speculation of course, but it's based on the fact that the Cowboys are rumored to be bringing in free-agent offensive lineman Marcus Martin and Cameron Fleming. And on top of that, it was announced that two of the Dallas Cowboys 30 pre-draft visitors are also offensive lineman, Will Hernandez, who is popular among Cowboys fans already, and offensive tackle Kolton Miller.

I don't know about you, but it looks as if the Dallas Cowboys are certainly focused in on upgrading the offensive line. This absolutely makes sense after what they went through last season with the carousel at the left guard position and Tyron Smith's struggles to stay healthy.

More than anything, the Cowboys need OL depth heading into the 2018 season. There is only really one spot up for grabs at left guard, but the depth across the OL is absolutely depleted unless you want to rely on Chaz Green again.

This is where Marcus Martin and Cameron Fleming make a lot of sense. Marcus Martin has the versatility to play center and guard, and has done so already in his NFL career. He could compete for the starting LG position, but if nothing else, could replace Joe Looney as the backup C/OG.

Cameron Fleming could be the more important of the two free agents the Cowboys are rumored to be interested in. At the worst, Fleming would be an upgrade as the swing tackle, something he's done with the New England Patriots throughout his career. But, he could compete to become the starting right tackle, which would kick La'el Collins back inside to left guard.

That's all speculation right now, but the Dallas Cowboys would do what's best for the entire team in order to get the right starting five offensive lineman on the field.

Kolton Miller

Cowboys Rookie prospect OT Kolton Miller

The same can be said about rookies Will Hernandez and Kolton Miller. Hernandez would likely be a plug-and-play left guard if he ended up being the Dallas Cowboys first-round draft pick. That would keep the offensive line from shuffling and hopefully solidify the unit for years to come.

Kolton Miller on the other hand would be a lot like the Cameron Fleming situation mentioned above. He can probably tackle on the left or right side the NFL, although some draft analysts believe he will struggle as a LT at the next level.

Of course, there is no way of knowing how much interest the Dallas Cowboys have any of these players right now. But to me, it looks as if upgrading the offensive line is certainly one of their top priorities this offseason.

Is upgrading the OL the Dallas Cowboys top offseason priority?

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Star Blog

Cowboys Free Agency: The Thin Line Between Frustration and Comprehension

Mauricio Rodriguez



Cowboys Free Agency: The Thin Line Between Frustration and Comprehension

For die-hard NFL fans, the free agency period is as fun as any other week in the regular season. It's always a fun experience knowing what team is interested in which player and who's visiting who. Heck, there are websites with "free agents trackers" for people who don't want to miss a single thing.

Seeing the huge contracts some players get and discussing whether it's well-deserved money or an overpaid salary provides football fans all around the league with fun football conversations in the middle of March.

This is a period in which, despite not being on the field, every NFL team is doing the same thing. Trying to get better. Which is exactly why most Dallas Cowboys fans are frustrated with how things have gone for their favorite team in this 2018 NFL offseason.

Right now, less than a week after the free agency period officially began, they're the only team left in the NFL that hasn't signed a single free agent.

Surprising? Not at all.

Whether we like it or not, we know how this team likes to operate. A quiet free agency isn't out of the ordinary for the Cowboys. For many years, the NFL Draft has been the priority for them, and they've done a good job at it.

At the end of the day, waiting for the first wave of free agents to pass is smart unless you're looking for a QB or have a huge amount of cap space. When you look at what players are getting, you realize most of them are overpaid. Sammy Watkins got a $48M three-year deal, when he hasn't really proved to be worth it.

I don't think Cowboys Nation would've liked to see the Jones family bring Watkins for that kind of money. Personally, I don't mind the Cowboys' front office letting those first expensive signings occur without them participating in them.

I mean, they've already made a splash, when you think about it. DeMarcus Lawrence was the biggest non-QB free agent of the year and they managed to keep him for at least next season. It's not exactly a free agent signing, but they are paying one of the NFL's best pass rushers more than $17M to wear the Star one more year.

Cowboys Free Agency: The Thin Line Between Frustration and Comprehension 1

Former Arizona Cardinals S Tyrann Mathieu

Yes, the Cowboys' team-building philosophy is comprehensible. But when do fans like you and me stop understanding their offseason approach and get bothered by it? To me, that frustration came in the form of Tyrann Mathieu signing with the other NFL team in Texas.

If the Honey Badger had signed a super expensive contract, I'd be fine with the Cowboys passing on him. But Houston was able to get him for just seven million dollars on a one-year prove-it deal.

Mathieu is one of the best defensive talents in the league and will be just 26 years old when next season begins. Why didn't the Cowboys tried to land him, if safety is a position of need? I mean, we've been talking about a potential trade for Earl Thomas all year!

Were they hesitant just because the Honey Badger isn't your traditional safety? Are they so conservative that their reason to not go after him was he wasn't a scheme fit? When you're talking about a talent like his, I think you make things work to see him thrive along young and promising cornerbacks like Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie.

The Cowboys can still look at Tier-2 free agents such as TE Eric Ebron or S Kenny Vaccaro over the following days. It could end up working for them, or it could end up just like Nolan Carroll's horrendous game versus the Broncos in week 2 of the 2017 NFL season and his $2M in dead money for this year.

When it comes to the Cowboys' approach to free agency, there's a very thin line between comprehension and frustration. Maybe, just maybe, they make us understand next season when we see results on the field.

For now though, it's tough to stay in the "comprehending" side of things.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Free Agency: The Thin Line Between Frustration and Comprehension" 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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