When it was announced the Washington Redskins were moving on from defensive tackle Terrell McClain, a reunion with the Cowboys seemed all-too-perfect. After all, the Cowboys did not address their defensive tackle situation during the NFL Draft, and McClain filled the role really well when with the team in 2016.
Later in the week, however, it was announced that McClain will be signing with the Atlanta Falcons; further bolstering their impressive roster and directly improving an NFC foe.
But now we must ask, what’s next for the Cowboys at 1-technique?
As of now it appears that the Cowboys interior defensive line depth chart features players who are all better suited to play 3-technique, though Maliek Collins was serviceable playing at 1-technique in 2017. Collins is now reportedly dealing with a broken foot which will put him out for much of the offseason programs, however.
The best interior defensive lineman on this roster is David Irving. And while he has been a bit unreliable in terms of suspension and injury, Irving’s play has been downright dominant at times. He is a strong pass rushing threat from the 3-technique, and could work at nose if needed when the Cowboys go to their 3-2-6 package.
He isn’t a 1-technique, though.
The Cowboys did trade for former Raiders defensive tackle Jihad Ward, but he doesn’t really fit the 1-technique mold either. Ward worked at both tackle and end for the Raiders, and while I do believe he can bring some interior pass rush, he is far from the butt-kicking nose this roster so desperately needs.
Dallas seems relatively okay with allowing their current guys figure it out upfront, as they haven’t really pursued any free agent defensive tackles besides McClain. So, if that is the case, the question really becomes how good can Brian Price and Richard Ash be for them in 2018?
Much of the fan base had hoped Brian Price could fill that need when called upon last season, but he was forced to have knee surgery in November and miss the back half of the 2017 season. Richard Ash saw increased time when Price went out, and at 320 pounds he certainly looks the part of a 1-technique.
But, once again, Ash isn’t exactly a world-beater. Both he and Price are nice pieces to consider, but there’s no guarantee that both (or either) will make the team. In fact, it’s probably likely that only one will be on the final roster considering how the Cowboys structure their depth chart and value defensive line versatility.
The Cowboys have a need for a 1-technique, and we really cannot be sure that the player to fill that need is currently on the roster.