The Dallas Cowboys defensive front could and probably will look a whole lot different in 2020. They have seven players set to be free agents, with five being unrestricted. In particular, the interior of the defensive line could be impacted the most.
Starters Maliek Collins and Antwaun Woods are both included in the free agents the Cowboys have to make decisions on. The former is set to be an unrestricted free agent and will undoubtedly test his value on the open market, while the latter will be an exclusive right, free agent. An exclusive rights free agent is any player with fewer than three accrued seasons and an expired contract. If his original team offers him a one-year contract and the league minimum (based on his credited seasons), the player cannot negotiate with other teams.
Michael Bennett and Kerry Hyder, who both saw snaps at defensive tackle, are set to test the open market in March. Bennett restructured his deal a week after the Cowboys acquired him for a 2021 seventh-round pick last October from the New England Patriots making him an unrestricted free agent in 2020. He registered four sacks in the nine games he played in, showing there's still more than a little left in his football tank. Top contenders will definitely try to snag Bennett so he'll be challenging to keep on the roster.
Hyder managed just 17 tackles for the season. He'll probably be a little easier to bring back than the aforementioned Bennett, seeing as his price will be lower. It will just come down to if the Cowboys see him as a valuable piece under the guidance of new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.
Christian Covington played primarily on the interior and racked up 28 tackles and a sack, not too shabby for a guy in a backup role. This will be another player that if retained wouldn't take much of a financial commitment.
With all this being said, there's a prospect coming out of the college ranks that could be a very good fit for the Cowboys, South Carolina Defensive Tackle Javon Kinlaw. He's a mountain of a man at 6'6 and 315 pounds who can shred blocks at ease and overpower offensive linemen with his strength. Kinlaw has a quick first step and good technique for a player his size. With the aforementioned Collins and Woods potentially leaving starting roles up for grabs, Kinlaw could be on the field quickly.
Javon Kinlaw scouting report by Charlie Campbell via WalterFootball.com
- Excellent physical skill set with speed, strength, and length
- Long arms – 34.5 inches
- Superb ability to keep guards away from him
- Good athlete
- Quick at the point of attack
- Dangerous interior pass-rusher
- Closes on quarterbacks in a hurry
- Strong hands
- Uses hands and feet at the same time
- Technically sound interior defensive lineman
- Splash plays
- Quick feet
- Good get-off
- Ability to shed blocks
- Strong at the point of attack
- Can bull through offensive linemen
- Quality run defender
- Not easy to move at the line of scrimmage
- Good vision
- Carries weight well
- Successful against good competition
- Ready to contribute quickly
- Extremely versatile
- Can play a variety of 4-3 or 3-4 techniques
- Could stand to improve pass-rushing moves for the NFL
- Doesn't always produce up to his skillset
- Gets in trouble when he stands up too high
You dominate the trenches you win ball games in the NFL, it's that simple. The Cowboys have done an excellent job offensively establishing the line of scrimmage, now they'll look to continue that on defense and get this team back to the playoffs in 2020.