The Dallas Cowboys made it a point to address their pass rush this offseason. It began with the signings of veteran defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe, an area the Cowboys have failed to take care of for years. Shortly after, though, the Cowboys shocked the NFL world when they signed former All-Pro Defensive End Aldon Smith to a one-year deal.
Now, after a five-year hiatus, just how effective can Smith be?
One thing is for certain, nobody should expect a return to his first couple of seasons in San Francisco when he registered 33.5 sacks (fastest player to 30 sacks in NFL history) and was an All-Pro. However, there are a few factors that can see him play better than most think.
For one, the Cowboys have other capable bodies coming off the edge, so Smith won't be required to be the lead guy like he was in San Francisco with the 49ers. DeMarcus Lawrence will hold down the left side, per usual. Smith will be in competition with Tyrone Crawford, rookie Bradlee Anae, and Randy Gregory, who's currently going through the reinstatement process himself. This rotation will keep Smith fresh with a lighter workload than he's used to.
Jim Tomsula, who coached Smith for the first four seasons of his career, was hired to be the Cowboys defensive line coach back in January, and his former student is excited about a reunion with him.
“Getting back and being with Jim is definitely exciting,” Smith said. “We had a great time together with the group of guys that we had and the success that we had there. I just love how Jim allows us to go out and be free on the field and not feel like we're in a box.”
Maybe the most encouraging thing about Smith heading into this season is his own self-confidence after so much time off. On a conference call last month, Smith talked about how he felt heading into the 2020 season.
“I still feel great,” Smith said. “I still feel young. I still can move well. I still have a great knowledge of the game, if not better knowledge of the game. I learned a lot from the guys I played with in California and they taught me a lot of good things.”
Smith has a shot to be an amazing turnaround story if he stays on the current path he's been traveling. Call me crazy, but I can see him getting 6-8 sacks this season. Now, we simply waiting to see how this incredible redemption story plays out.