Cowboys Draft Breakdown: Defensive Edition

The Dallas Cowboys currently hold nine draft picks in the upcoming 2016 NFL Draft, but that may change depending on any trades that may make.

In order to try to determine which direction they go with these selections I decided to break down the Cowboys current roster and see what positions they are most likely to focus on.

I previously broke down the Cowboys current roster on offense, which you can read about here.

The Cowboys defense could use upgrades at nearly every position to help out defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, even though they performed admirably in 2015. They were able to accomplish this, despite the offensive struggles.

It’s way past time that Marinelli get some new toys to play with on the defensive side of the ball and it’s possible that the Cowboys come away from the draft with the majority of their picks on the defensive side of the ball.

Without further ado, here is how the Cowboys current roster breaks down on the defensive side of the ball.

Defensive end:

Demarcus Lawrence, Jack Crawford, Benson Mayowa, Randy Gregory, Ryan Russell, Mike McAdoo

The Dallas Cowboys have done an adequate job addressing the defensive end position in the off-season, but to say that an upgrade is not needed would be inaccurate.

Lawrence is really  the only proven pass rusher for the Cowboys and beyond that the cupboard looks pretty bare.

Jack Crawford could provide valuable depth all along the defensive line, but more so at defensive end while Gregory serves his four-game suspension. Mayowa will more than likely be a pass rush specialist, backing up Lawrence and whoever starts opposite him.

The Cowboys need to find someone to play opposite of Lawrence and will likely do so early in the draft and then perhaps double dip a little later and take another defensive end in the middle rounds.

My picks: Shaq Lawson, Clemson (1st round) & Matt Judon, Grand Valley State (4th round)

Defensive tackle:

Tyrone Crawford, Cedric Thornton, Terrell McClain, David Irving, Casey Walker, Chris Whaley

Tyrone Crawford is without a doubt the starter at the 3 tech, while the newly signed Cedric Thornton is expected to start at the 1 tech.

Terrell McClain and David Irving provide valuable depth at both positions, providing McClain can remain healthy for the entire season.

Casey Walker and Chris Whaley are unknowns and are likely looking from the outside in if the Cowboys address this position at some point in the draft.

This is a deep defensive tackle draft class and the Cowboys would be wise to take advantage of this opportunity.

My pick: Hassan Ridgeway, University of Texas (4th round)


Sean Lee, Rolando McClain, Anthony Hitchens, Damien Wilson, Kyle Wilber, Keith Smith, Jerrell Harris, Andrew Gachkar, Derek Akunne, Mark Nzeocha

Sean Lee and Rolando McClain could be one of the better linebacker duos in the entire NFL, but McClain has run a little hot and cold during his time with the Cowboys. McClain is also on another one year contract so it might be wise to find the future starting middle linebacker.

Hitchens has shown flashes of his potential and Wilber has found a home at the strong side linebacker spot, while also becoming a key member on different special teams units.

Gachkar, Wilson, and Nzeocha are best suited for backup roles and key contributors on special teams like Wilber.

In the 4-3 defense, teams need quite a few linebackers and despite having the numbers/bodies for the position, the Cowboys will probably add another linebacker through the draft at some point.

My pick: Joshua Perry, Ohio State (2nd round)

Corner back:

Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Orlando Scandrick, Buddy Jackson, Josh Thomas, Terrance Mitchell, Deji Olatoye

The corner back position might just be the most questionable on the entire team and will absolutely have to be addressed at some point in the draft.

Brandon Carr is in the last year of his contract and no one really knows what his status with the team is yet. I personally think he will play out the remainder of his contract or the Cowboys may decide to try to extend his contract to lessen his cap hit.

Claiborne was brought back on a one-year deal and figures to be a contributor in the secondary, but whether it  is as a starter or a backup is unknown.

Scandrick should be a big boost to the Cowboys secondary if he can return fully healthy from his knee injury.

Beyond that there really isn’t much to be excited about if someone was asked to step up and contribute on a regular basis.

The Cowboys could select a corner as early as the first round and may even double dip like I predicted with defensive end earlier. It will be interesting to see how they address this position.

My picks: Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech (2nd round) & Maurice Canady, Virginia (4th round)


Byron Jones, Barry Church, J J Wilcox, Jeff Heath

I have Byron Jones listed as a safety because I believe that’s the direction the Cowboys are leaning towards going in 2016, but his versatility allows him to play safety or corner.

The Cowboys interest this off-season in signing Eric Weddle shows that they are interested in upgrading the position and I really think they would like interchangeable safeties on the backend of the defense.

I think the Cowboys will look to find a more athletic safety they can pair with Jones that has better coverage skills.

Church, Wilcox, and Heath all struggle in coverage and are better suited as box safeties. All three should not feel very comfortable that their roster spot is secure.

My pick: Keanu Neal, Florida (2nd round)

Well, there you have it.

Please feel free to use the comment section below to express your thoughts and opinions so that we can discuss the topic further.

What do you think?

Brian Martin

Written by Brian Martin

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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