Through two weeks, the Cowboys have been proven right when claiming their depth on defense gives them the versatility to succeed. This depth will be tested in Monday's division and home opener against the Eagles. The Cowboys will be without DeMarcus Lawrence, Keanu Neal, Dorance Armstrong, Neville Gallimore, Carlos Watkins, and Bradlee Anae. The Cowboys haven't backed away from playing their young prospects to rebuild this defense, and week three may be the moment for Jabril Cox.
The Cowboys' Front 7 will be without Demarcus Lawrence, Keanu Neal, Dorance Armstrong, Neville Gallimore, Carlos Watkins, Bradlee Anae and Trysten Hill against the Eagles on Monday.
Third round pick Chauncey Gholston might be in the best position as the “next man up” to play against Philadelphia, but fourth rounder Jabril Cox should also be ready to step in at linebacker.
Micah Parsons will stay at defensive end for at least another week, doing so against a mobile dual-threat quarterback in Jalen Hurts. The Eagles offense will test Dallas' defense both sideline-to-sideline and vertically, making Cox's coverage skills useful. Philadelphia features four pass catchers averaging over 10 yards a catch, with both tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert off to strong starts.
Cox has the size to match up with TEs in the passing game, but the athleticism to run with receivers as well. The Cowboys have been developing Cox since training camp to find the LSU product a role, though being forced into action in week three likely wasn't the plan. Veterans Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith played well against the Chargers, but the Eagles present a different challenge than Justin Herbert and LA.
Vander Esch and Smith will still be needed without Keanu Neal in the lineup, and the Cowboys liked what they saw from Dan Quinn's “big nickel” package with three safeties on the field last week. This too could help ease the losses in the front seven by keeping throws underneath, forcing Hurts to beat them consistently down the field.
Cox won't be asked to run with Jalen Reagor or Devonta Smith, but having another tackler at the second level that can also spy on Hurts is valuable.
When Cox was drafted 115th overall, it was considered one of the steals of this class for the Cowboys. Parsons has stolen the show for rookie contributors so far, along with DT Osa Odighizuwa. Jabril Cox can add his name to this list in primetime should the Cowboys need to change their look at linebacker against the Eagles.