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Dallas Cowboys 2020 Training Camp Preview: Defensive End

There's been a lot of news coming from the over the last week. JUst a few days ago, Dallas signed pass rusher to bolster the position. We'll look at how the Griffen addition changes the landscape for the entire group as begins.


's one year in Dallas produced 11.5 and saw him lead the team in that category. While remains the best DE on the team, and a big reason that Quinn was able to put up those numbers, losing the veteran in left a big hole to fill.

The Cowboys appeared to be comfortable with a multi-faceted approach to replacing Quinn. They added after a 5-year absence from the to try and resurrect his career. They also held on to despite a considerable hit and continue to work with as he seeks his own from the league as Aldon Smith received.

But then began with Crawford on the PUP list and Gregory still not getting an answer from the NFL. Perhaps those factors led to Dallas finally taking Everson Griffen from the top of the list of remaining .

Now the Cowboys have two clear starters in Tank and Griffen and plenty of depth options below them. In addition to the three players already mentioned, recent draft picks , , and will all be competing for playing time and perhaps to simply remain on the .

Just how close are some of these battles? Who is at risk of not making the team at all? We'll go deeper in the next section.

Should the Cowboys Pursue DE Everson Griffen?
Dallas Cowboys DE Everson Griffen (John Autey / Pioneer Press)

DE Pre-Camp Rankings

  1. DeMarcus Lawrence
  2. Everson Griffen
  3. Tyrone Crawford vs Aldon Smith
  4. Dorance Armstrong
  5. Bradlee Anae vs Joe Jackson
  6. Ron'Dell Carter vs Ladarius Hamilton

DE Competitions

Dallas isn't giving Everson Griffen $6 million in 2020 to be a backup. While he may rotate out with Crawford, Smith, and others at times depending one the down and distance, Griffen is coming off a Pro Bowl year where he played close to 78% of the Vikings' defensive snaps. He's still a full-time player and a highly effective one.

The real battle begins below the starters. While Tyrone Crawford has been the resident primary backup and occasional starter for a while, Aldon Smith was once one of the best pass rushers in football. If he's still got anything resembling his previous form, Aldon will threaten to cut into Griffen and Lawrence's playing time as well.

Still, five years is a long time to be out of the game. While it does reduce your mileage and perhaps makes Smith a healthier 30-year-old than others, there are other losses in technique and muscle memory to deal with. That is why Crawford remains a valuable reserve.

It's also very interesting further down the with the young guys. Dorance Armstrong is a pure pass rusher who has slowly grown his game over the last two years. Joe Jackson played little in 2019 as a rookie but brings good size and power to the position, especially if Dallas is going to be moving into some 3-4 looks under .

Complicating matters for those two is rookie Bradlee Anae, who comes in as a fresh face selected by our new staff. We've seen the shinier, newest toys often push guys off the roster and especially when there's been a chance in coaches. Depending on how high the staff is on Anae, he may already be ahead of Armstrong and Jackson.

Also in camp are two undrafted rookies, Ron'Dell Carter and Ladarius Hamilton. They certainly can claim roster spots with strong performance; none of Anae, Armstrong, or Jackson are established enough to not face competition. But the competition is still stiff and the may be as far as either of them can get in 2020.

Lastly, what if the NFL does finally reinstate Randy Gregory in the next few weeks? Dallas hasn't stuck with him this long for nothing; Gregory would still be one of the most talented pass rushers on the team. He would likely leap Anae, Armstrong, and any other young prospect for a spot on the depth chart.

Jess Haynie
Jess Haynie
Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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