If you were to grab any Dallas Cowboys fan – you'd have to likely console them because the Divisional Loss is still so fresh – and ask them what the team's top need is, they'd likely say the defensive line.
“Rushmen” as Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli refers to them, are a valuable commodity on any NFL team, and they've been more absent than members of Cowboys Nation would have liked over the last few seasons.
The Cowboys have certainly devoted their fair share of resources to the defensive line. They invested second round draft picks in DeMarcus Lawrence – who is having offseason back surgery – and Randy Gregory, they gave Tyrone Crawford a big new contract, and they even brought in what was thought-to-be a Greg Hardy willing to commit to changing (spoiler: he wasn't).
It's almost an urban legend at this point that Marinelli “makes it work” with the rushmen that he's afforded, and maybe he's done a better job than even we realize. Rob Phillips of DallasCowboys.com dropped an interesting stat on Wednesday that has the Cowboys Defensive Line (remember this is specific to defensive linemen) fourth in sacks across the 2016 season.
Interesting stat looking back at 2016 defense. Only 3 teams got more sacks from their D-Linemen: Panthers, Vikings, Seahawks. Cowboys had 29
The annual Senior Bowl is this Saturday so we know that NFL Draft season truly is upon us (You can check out Brian Martin's players to watch at the Senior Bowl right here). There is arguably no position hotter on the mind of Cowboys fans than defensive linemen, specifically edge rushers.
I'm not about to sit here and proclaim that defensive linemen or edge rushers aren't a need, because I'm not a crazy person. If this data tells us anything it's that Rod Marinelli is even more incredible than we truly give him credit for, and if he's able to get his hands on some legitimate talent on a consistent basis… this level of productivity could increase all the more greatly.
The Cowboys Defensive Line is definitely their achilles heel and a weak spot on the team, but at least we can digest this information and know that it wasn't necessarily as bad as we originally thought it was. That's a victory, right? Oh well.