The Dallas Cowboys defense put on a stellar performance last season and should have an even stronger year in 2019. Although no splashes were made during free agency, the front office made key signings and draft picks in the offseason. Among the biggest concerns for the team was the defensive tackle position. It was considered one of the main team needs the front office had to address ahead of next season. With training camp less than a month away, the Cowboys should be feeling pretty well about the interior defensive line. You should too.
The biggest addition came in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. With their first selection of the year, the Dallas Cowboys drafted DT Trysten Hill, from Central Florida. Hill is a talented player that can help at both the three-tech and one-tech spots. He will likely contribute most as a three-tech, though.
How much will Hill actually contribute from the get-go remains to be seen. We know defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is great at developing young defensive linemen, so it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see him on an important role early in the season.
He won’t be the only important three-technique DT, though. Maliek Collins, who will be playing his fourth season in the NFL will play a lot, too. Collins has had a lot of injuries to deal with during his career. Fortunately, that hasn’t been the case this offseason. So far, he’s been having what seems like his healthiest offseason of his career.
When healthy, Collins has proven to be a quality player for the Cowboys defense. If he manages to stay on the field, he has what it takes to be the starter in Dallas. Specially now that he’s playing on a contract year, Collins will be out there proving his worth for Dallas or any team that’s interested in him in 2020 when he hits free agency. Perhaps we won’t stay for long, but as far as next season is concerned, he will.
We’ll see how these two battle for snaps since training camp, but it’ll be a battle between two good players. Either way it goes, Cowboys Nation should be confident in the team’s three-techs.
As for the one-technique spot, don’t forget about the remarkable job done by Antwaun Woods last season. His stats may not jump out of the page, but that’s part of being a one-tech DT. His presence was constantly felt as he disrupted plays and racked up 15 starts.
On top of these guys, we have the key rotational players that will provide the Cowboys defensive line with value even when starters are taking a breath on the sidelines. Tyrone Crawford, who has been spending time on the interior and on the edges for Dallas for years now, will probably see the most of his snaps as a DT thanks to the depth at DE.
Add to the mix Christian Covington and Kerry Hyder (who, like Crawford, could play DT if needed) and you have a solid rotation at the position for the 2019 season. At best, the Cowboys will find two quality starters and play them in the vast majority of the defensive snaps. In the worst case scenario, Rod Marinelli’s defense will have a deep rotation of DT that will always be fresh when asked to play.
With elite play from DeMarcus Lawrence as the right defensive end and help on the other side from Robert Quinn, the defensive tackles have the opportunity to take the game in the trenches to the next level. They have the talent to do so. I wouldn’t be too concerned about the position heading into 2019, even though it was one of the biggest concerns prior to the offseason.