There’s no question about where the Cowboys have put their focus in terms of roster building as of late.
By allocating a ridiculous amount of draft capital to their secondary, and spending first round picks on each level of the defense 3 of the past 4 years, Dallas is looking to build their next generation of “Doomsday.”
For years the Cowboys’ defense has “failed” their offense, often giving up an abundance of yards and touchdowns and keeping then-quarterback Tony Romo from winning the big games he’s so criticized for. Learning from their past mistakes the Cowboys have looked for ways to get younger, more athletic, longer, and overall nastier on their defense. They’ve attempted to become a stout pass defense with top tier edge rushers and talented cornerbacks.
And, for much of last season, there was reason to believe that the transformation is underway.
Both Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis had excellent rookie seasons, and should be able to improve even further during their sophomore campaigns. DeMarcus Lawrence had a career year, leading the team with 14.5 sacks and forcing offenses to account for him week after week. Sean Lee continues to be a top tier linebacker when healthy, and the pieces around these marquee players have begun to perform as well.
This offseason, the Cowboys hired former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard to handle the job of “pass game coordinator” and secondary coach. Richard helped to coach the Legion of Boom to much success in Seattle, and brings with him an impressive pedigree of coaching up a secondary.
Richard, along with the other defensive coaches, have decided to move former first round pick Byron Jones to cornerback full time. And, when combining Jones with Awuzie on the boundary and Lewis in the slot, the Cowboys have their own impressive group of corners forming.
Plus, by drafting Leighton Vander Esch in the first round of the 2018 draft, and adding him to what we hope is a healthy group of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith, the Cowboys have created an athletic and rangy group of linebackers to work with.
The Cowboys have put an emphasis on building their defense “the right way” in recent years. They appear to have the young pieces in place for a top ten type of defense in the near future. The question now becomes, how long will it take for them to reach this level?
For Jason Garrett’s sake, it might need to happen this year.