The Dallas Cowboys head into 2019 having used their highest draft pick, 58th overall, on rookie Defensive Tackle Trysten Hill. What does that addition, along with other offseason moves, mean for the DT position just a few weeks away from training camp?
After getting run over by the Los Angeles Rams in their 2018 playoff loss, the Cowboys' interior defensive line came under fire. Both Maliek Collins and Antwaun Woods were dealing with health issues in that game, and the Dallas defense didn't look anything close to the group that was 5th-best in the NFL in regular-season run defense.
Collins and Woods return this year to prominent roles at defensive tackle. Dallas also has veteran Tyrone Crawford still on the roster, and added another veteran in free agent Christian Covington from Houston. Throw in the Trysten Hill pick, plus other young prospects like Daniel Ross, Shakir Soto, and Daniel Wise, and the Cowboys will likely be losing some talented players at final cuts.
Here's the projected DT depth chart for 2019 so far:
- Tyrone Crawford, Maliek Collins
- Trysten Hill, Antwaun Woods
- Daniel Ross, Christian Covington
- Daniel Wise, Shakir Soto
- Ricky Walker
I'm still not convinced that Tyrone Crawford, despite his history, makes the team this season. As I've written about a lot this offseason, releasing Crawford still yields considerable salary cap space that can be put toward long-term contracts with Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, and other stars. There is also the issue of his potential suspension, albeit likely a short one, from involvement in an offseason bar fight.
Maliek Collins should be back and playing at a high level with his rookie contract expiring. Dallas is likely hoping to get a big year from Maliek but then let someone else pay him big money in 2020, replacing Collins with Hill in his second year.
If Antwaun Woods keeps building on last year then he may be the best DT on the team in 2019. He would also be just a restricted free agent for Dallas in 2020, hopefully making him and Trysten Hill an effective but affordable pair of starters. The Cowboys should be hoping to build around them going forward.
Trysten Hill likely won't assume a major role immediately but the Cowboys are high on his potential. He should be a rotation piece early and work his way in.
Keep in mind, though, that Maliek Collins was a 3rd-round pick in 2016 and still led all defensive linemen in total snaps. Hill could play more than we'd expect for a Day 2 rookie.
Also in the mix is Christian Covington, an underrated signing from the Texans. He's converting from a 3-4 defensive end to a 4-3 tackle, and has the size and pass rush skills to play in either spot on our line. Covington may be the piece that allows Dallas to cut Crawford, filling out the top four with upside and versatility.
The big question for Daniel Ross and other lesser options is how many defensive tackles the Cowboys' carry. If they keep the five guys we've already mentioned, it's hard to see any of Ross, Soto, Wise or others making the team.
In fact, I can even see a scenario where Dallas just keeps four true tackles and then occasionally uses larger defensive ends like Kerry Hyder or Taco Charlton on the interior. That's another reason I'm not confident in Tyrone Crawford's job security.
It's a time of transition at defensive tackle, with guys like Crawford and Maliek Collins potentially after this year (if not sooner) to make way for Trysten Hill, Antwaun Woods, and others. For 2019, it gives us lot of options and what appears to be some strong competition throughout the depth chart.
It could be tough for the players, but it should be a big plus for the overall strength of the Cowboys' DT position this season.
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OTHER 2019 CAMP PREVIEWS
Jason Garrett Reminds Everyone That Kellen Moore Calls the Plays
There's a lot of blame game being played around the Dallas Cowboys right now after a demoralizing home loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Even the head coach seems to be getting in on the act as Jason Garrett went out of character and got unusually specific in explaining Kellen Moore's responsibility for play-calling.
Garrett is not known for calling people out. In fact, many fans have criticized him for not being more critical of his players. He tends to speak in vague, nebulous terms when it comes to discussing the Cowboys' weaknesses or failings after a loss.
But in a radio appearance this morning, Garrett didn't mince words on who was deciding the plays during the Cowboys' final drive.
Jason Garrett on @1053thefan on the two run plays late: "Kellen's calling the game. In that situation it's 2nd and 2. He felt like he had a good opportunity against a favorable box to run the ball in those situations. On each of those plays we had options beyond just the run.
Jason did try to excuse his offensive coordinator's decisions with some context, but he also made sure to clarify who was responsible for those calls. It was not very Garrett-like, and it may speak to his own growing frustration and concern over his future.
Garrett is on the final year of his contract and the Cowboys' front office has made it clear that any extension depends on the results of the 2019 season. With Dallas now dropping to 5-4 and only leading the division by a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Philadelphia Eagles, the future is increasingly unclear.
Jason Garrett famously uses "we" and "us" terms when talking about the negatives, not wanting to assign blame to any particular player or person when things aren't going well. That he strayed from this well-established behavior today may be an anomaly, but it shouldn't be ignored.
With a tough second-half stretch coming in this 2019 schedule, Garrett may be starting to feel like a dead man walking. We'll see in the coming weeks if this leads to anymore shifts in his usual demeanor with the media.
Dallas Cowboys Good, Bad, and Ugly from Week 10 Against Vikings
Well Cowboys Nation, the Dallas Cowboys let yet another winnable game slip to their grasp Sunday night after the devastating 28-24 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. By my count, that's three out of four games the Cowboys probably should have won this season. But, probably… maybe… and should have don't mean diddly squat in the NFL.
I'm not going to beat around the bush today because I would likely end up going into a long winded rant about what took place last night. So, let's go ahead and jump right into this week's edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. As always, please feel free to use the comment section to voice your opinions and thoughts on the subject.
Unlike in weeks past, I had absolutely no problem deciding what to go with this week for this category from the Dallas Cowboys Week 10 matchup with the Minnesota Vikings. I don't think anyone would argue that the good had to be Quarterback Dak Prescott's play and the Cowboys overall passing game. This unit was the sole reason they had a chance to win at the end.
Prescott was simply phenomenal Sunday night. He threw for 397 yards, three touchdowns, and only one interception. He was on point last night and was dropping dimes all over the place. It's one of the reasons why both Amari Cooper (147 yards, 1 TD) and Randall Cobb (106, 1 TD) both went over the 100 yard mark in receiving, and Michael Gallup wasn't too far behind (76 yards, 1 TD). All in all it's an MVP caliber performance from No. 4, but unfortunately it wasn't enough to seal the victory.
I thought and thought about what I wanted to go with in this category and I'll have to admit, I had a hard time deciding. There were individual players who deserved a nomination here, but in the end I think the bad for the Dallas Cowboys was them getting off to yet another slow start against the Minnesota Vikings. Unfortunately, it's been a trend for them this season.
It all started when Jason Garrett decided to send out Kicker Brett Maher to attempt an ill-advised 57 yard field goal. Maher is capable of making such kicks, but there's a time and place to use that kind of weapon. Last night on the opening drive of the game was not one of those times. After the missed FG, the Vikings had excellent field position and scored a quick TD. Not long after they scored another TD to go up 14-0 after another stalled drive by the Cowboys offense. It's a hole they were never quite able to dig themselves out of.
Deciding what to go with here in this category was pretty easy after narrowing down what I wanted to put in the bad category. I think the ugly for the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night against the Minnesota Vikings was their defensive play. In all honesty, it was absolutely sickening to watch the Vikings have their way with the Cowboys defense. Dallas has far too much talent on that side of the ball to be manhandled like they were.
The tackling was atrocious and so was the execution. I'm pretty sure the game plan was to neutralize Dalvin Cook the way they did Saquon Barkley in Week 9, but the league's leading rusher (Cook) would have none of that. He pretty much did what he wanted. He ran through arm tackles and had room to run, whether it was as a rusher or receiver. It looked a lot like what Green Bay Packers RB Aaron Jones did to the Cowboys in Week 5. It was completely inexcusable and unacceptable!
What is your good, bad, and ugly from the Dallas Cowboys Week 10 matchup?
Randall Cobb has Breakout Game in Tough Loss vs Vikings
When NFL free agency began this past March the Dallas Cowboys spent the month making several additions to their roster. Veterans George Iloka (only one not currently on the roster), Kerry Hyder, Christian Covington, and Robert Quinn were added to help on the defensive side of the ball.
Offensively, there was a huge hole to fill when Wide Receiver Cole Beasley signed a four-year 29 million dollar deal to play for the Buffalo Bills. The Cowboys would then sign Randall Cobb about a week later to a one-year deal. The seasoned pro was brought in as an upgrade over Beasley in the slot to compliment Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Also, with his unique ability to play on the outside as well, it would allow Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore to present different looks for opposing defenses.
In his first seven games of the season, Cobb struggled to find his place within this offense. He produced 25 receptions for 274 yards, with his lone touchdown coming in the season opener vs the New York Giants. He had four or fewer receptions five times and his most productive game only produced 69 yards. However, last night against the Minnesota Vikings was a glimpse of how productive Cobb can be in this system.
Cobb finished with six receptions for 106 yards Sunday night. This was his first 100-yard game since Week 1 in 2018. Four of his catches went for 20 yards or more, five went for first downs and he scored his second touchdown of the season. Dak Prescott showed supreme confidence in looking for Cobb on crucial third-down situations.
That's exactly what Cobb can do for this offense. He provides another reliable threat in the Cowboys aerial assault. When Cobb plays at a high level it will only free up Cooper and Gallup to wreak havoc on the outside.
Last night's game was a perfect example of this. Cooper had 11 receptions for 147 yards and Gallup added four catches for 76 yards, each scoring touchdowns. It doesn't allow a defense to lock in on one receiver and take them completely out of the game.
Cobb playing well also has an impact on the running game. The better he plays the more defenses will have to focus on stopping himself, Cooper, and Gallup. What does that do? The Cowboys won't face as many eight or nine-man fronts which will give All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott the opportunity to wear down opposing defenses by playing ball control, which is the Cowboys bread and butter.
Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come from Cobb as the playoff push heats up. If he can continue to build chemistry with Prescott it will only improve one of the NFL's best passing offenses while simultaneously increasing Elliott's ability to be effective by taking extra defenders away from the box. Will Cobb make this a regular occurrence for the rest of the season? Only time will tell.
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