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Interesting Personnel Combinations for Cowboys Defensive Line




Cowboys' Pass Rush: Who Will Be QB Sack Leader In 2017?
Jeff Hanisch - USA TODAY Sports

There are a bunch of new faces along Dallas Cowboys the defensive line this year, as well as plenty of familiar ones. If there is one thing to remember with this defensive line it's that there is no real stud, but also no real push over.

Starting with the familiar faces: Tyrone Crawford, David Irving, DeMarcus Lawrence, Benson Mayowa, Maliek Collins, and Cedric Thornton; these guys will carry a bulk of the responsibility early on, teaching the younger guys the ways of the Cowboys QB Hunters.

Cowboys Minicamp: Taco Charlton Impresses At LDE, Who Emerges At RDE? 3

With Taco Charlton, Damontre Moore, Charles Tapper, Lenny Jones, Stephen Paea, and Lewis Neal finding their places, choosing a defensive line combination is the next step for Rod Marinelli.

Year after year we look for Rod to turn a nobody into a somebody, but I can confidently say that Marinelli has some talent to work with this year.

First, let's sort out our defensive lineman by position.

Defensive Ends

  • DeMarcus Lawrence
  • Taco Charlton
  • Benson Mayowa
  • Charles Tapper
  • Lenny Jones

Defensive Tackles

  • Maliek Collins
  • Cedric Thornton
  • Stephen Paea
  • Lewis Neal


  • David Irving
  • Tyrone Crawford
  • Damontre Moore

Now the reason I sorted these out is simple; the players above are listed with the position I see them playing the most of this year. The hybrids are players who will likely see time at both defensive tackle and defensive end.

David Irving would realistically be my best option at left end, but unfortunately he will be suspended the first four games of the regular season.

Damontre Moore would likely push for a starting spot but--like Irving--is serving a two game suspension.

Schemes and Concepts Chapter 2: The Base 4-3 1

Base 4-3 Defense

In a base 4-3 defense we have a right end, a one-technique, a three-technique, and a left end. In these base packages the best line in my opinion would look like this:

  • Tyrone Crawford - Left Defensive End
  • Maliek Collins - Three-Technique
  • Stephen Paea - One-Technique
  • DeMarcus Lawrence - Right Defensive End

Nickel Defense

The "nickel" defensive line normally looks a little bit different. In nickel the odds of the offensive play call being a pass is normally greater than a running play (due to the number of wide receivers). In these instances, the defense normally tries to put its best pass rushers on the field.

In the nickel packages (without Irving and Moore) the best combination could look something similar to this:

  • DeMarcus Lawrence - Left Defensive End
  • Taco Charlton - Three-Technique
  • Maliek Collins - One-Technique
  • Benson Mayowa - Right Defensive End

You won't see this defensive line much, due to the lack of size on the field to play the run, but when offenses are in passing situation this is certainly the Cowboys' best combination to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Run Stuffing Defense

Maliek Collins, Redskins

DT Maliek Collins (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

There do come instances in games where you have to totally change the defensive line to help stop the run. The Cowboys have the right bodies on their depth chart to do so.

In these instances look for the defensive line to look something similar to this:

  • Taco Charlton - Right Defensive End
  • Maliek Collins - Three-Technique
  • Stephen Paea - One-Technique
  • Tyrone Crawford - Left Defensive End

You might notice that this combination looks very similar to the base 4-3 defensive line, except Taco Charlton will slide in at right defensive end. Taco Charlton's length and power against the run is something that he can certainly bring to the table this year, making him a valuable option at defensive end in certain situations throughout games.

Not having David Irving and Damontre Moore on the field together until week five definitely hurts this football team.

Some may argue that Irving and Moore are the two most talented defensive lineman on the Cowboys' roster and I tend to agree with them. The combinations that can be had with both Irving and Moore in the lineup are almost endless.

David Irving

Both guys have the flexibility to play right end, left end, and three technique in certain situations.

Both play with a great amount of power that is difficult for offensive lineman to deal with. Irving's length makes it extra difficult for blockers to control such a long, powerful, and fast rusher.

When David Irving and Damontre Moore return from serving their suspension, the defensive line will really have nice puzzle pieces to play with.

In the base defense Irving will likely get the start at left defensive end with DeMarcus Lawrence at right end. In nickel situations Damontre Moore or David Irving could slide in and play the three-technique spot with Maliek Collins moved over to one-technique.

When the reinforcements do make their triumphant return the defensive line, I think the most effective combo would be:

  • DeMarcus Lawrence - Right End
  • Maliek Collins - One-Technique
  • Damontre Moore - Three-Technique
  • David Irving - Left End

What DL combination will be the most disruptive for opposing teams?

Born in 1995, loved Football but more importantly the Dallas Cowboys since day one. Living in Redskins Country flying the Blue and Silver flag as high as possible. Covering the Dallas Cowboys for and Catch me on twitter @ConnorNFLDraft!


Star Blog

DL Kerry Hyder Helps Solidify A Re-Tooled Defensive Line

Kevin Brady



DL Kerry Hyder Helps Solidify A Re-Tooled Defensive Line

The Cowboys got off to a busy start to week two of free agency on Monday, and capped it off by signing defensive lineman Kerry Hyder to a one year deal.

The former Detroit Lion could be classified as a "one year wonder" of sorts, but when you look closer at his career arc, you see that Hyder can provide upside at multiple positions across the Cowboys' defensive front.

After having 8 sacks and 19 quarterback hits as a defensive end in 2016, Hyder missed all of 2017 with an achilles injury. Last season, under new head coach Matt Patricia, Hyder was moved out of position and forced to play as a nose tackle and 5-technique more often.

So, the last time Hyder was healthy and playing in the role in he will likely fill in Dallas, he was productive. Yes that was a couple of seasons ago but it makes Hyder worth the one year deal he received from the Cowboys.

What exactly is that role, though?

I see Hyder primarily as a rotational 3-technique for the Cowboys. At just 270 pounds Hyder isn't going to play over the center often, and won't be very useful as a 1-technique against the run. He's at his best when lining on the outside shade of an offensive lineman, where he can use his get-off and quickness to create pressure.

Kerry Hyder can also fill in at defensive end if needed, especially when the Cowboys go into a nickel package. Hyder is similar to Tyrone Crawford in his ability to move inside and out, but is a bit better of a pass rusher than Crawford when at his best.

Hyder is a high energy, motor, and character defensive lineman who will fit right in with a Rod Marinelli unit. If it all clicks for Hyder and he regains his 2016 form, the Cowboys will have stolen an impressive pass rushing defensive lineman who can win from multiple positions.

If Hyder is actually a "one year wonder" who is more of his 2018-self with the Cowboys despite being put in a better role to succeed, Dallas can move on rather quickly because he is only on a one year deal.

This is a smart signing by the Cowboys front office as they look to re-tool their defensive line, and avoid being pigeon-holed into over-drafting at a certain position this Spring.

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Star Blog

New Cowboys WR Randall Cobb Announces His Signing With A Fantastic GIF

Kevin Brady



New Cowboys WR Randall Cobb Announces His Signing With A Fantastic GIF

On Tuesday this week it became official the Cowboys would sign former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb to a one year deal worth an estimated $5 million. After his visit Monday morning, speculation around whether and when he would sign was swirling.

Cobb confirmed his intentions to join the Cowboys himself, and did so with some A+ GIF usage on Twitter.

Randall Cobb on Twitter

Randall Cobb on Twitter

In case you don't know, the GIF Cobb tweeted is Woody from Toy Story, emerging confidently and tipping his cap.

This was Cobb signaling that he his a Cowboy, and he appears excited to be joining America's Team. Cobb also received some social media love from his now former teammates in Green Bay, including wide receiver Davante Adams and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

RJ Ochoa on Twitter

Aaron Rodgers had some parting words for new Cowboys WR Randall Cobb

Clearly Randall Cobb made an impact in Green Bay, both on and off the field. Let's hope he can replicate some of that in Dallas now that he has joined the Cowboys.

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Star Blog

Malik McDowell Is Well Worth The Risk For The Dallas Cowboys

Kevin Brady



Malik McDowell, Michigan State

The Dallas Cowboys are reportedly brining defensive lineman Malik McDowell into The Star this week for a visit, as they decide whether or not to potentially sign him for the 2019 season.

McDowell is a former second round pick of the Seattle Seahawks, who fell to day two because of what scouts call "off the field" or "character" concerns. McDowell did not last long with Seahawks, as he was released in 2017 following an ATV accident in which he reportedly suffered "extensive brain and eye trauma" according to Charles Robinson.

None of us know much about who Malik McDowell is as a person, or what concerns their really should be with his health. But what I do know is that on tape at Michigan State, McDowell was a top 5-10 player in the 2017 draft class. He was a stud, and has the traits to continue to be a stud in the NFL.

2017 NFL Draft: Scouting Michigan State DL Malik McDowell - Slant Sports

The 2017 NFL Draft is chock full of talented, athletic, and productive defensive linemen. While most of the draft pundits have focused on EDGE rushers thus far, the defensive tackle class also possesses some of this year's top NFL prospects. Arguably the best of those defensive tackles is Michigan State's Malik McDowell.

Back in 2017 I wrote a full scouting report on McDowell, detailing why he earned such a high grade on my board. McDowell is a versatile linemen who is explosive off the ball, powerful and rangy against the run, and a skilled pass rusher who plays with a high motor. What more could you really ask for?

"McDowell is a patient pass rusher at times, setting up the blocker how he likes and then beating them with ease. McDowell’s ability to swipe hands off helps him greatly, but his quick swim is his most effective pass rush move.

On this play he uses that swim to perfection, forcing the center to power down to the right before swimming back to the other side."

nfldraft malik mcdowell 3

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

When the Spartans went to a three man pass rushing front, McDowell moved to the EDGE often and made plays with his quick, active hands and impressive swim move. He was much more impressive on the interior, however, and could be a direct replacement for David Irving as an explosive and powerful 3-technique for the Cowboys.

nfldraft malik mcdowell 4

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

I love that the Cowboys are bringing McDowell in for a free agent visit. His price will likely be low, as he is yet to play in an NFL game over the last two years, but his ceiling remains very high if he is healthy. It's rare for a player with his college production, natural ability, and measurables to completely fail in the NFL.

Maybe all McDowell needs is a second chance to get his head right and prove that he belongs in the league. Maybe he flames out quickly and can't get on the field due to "off the field" stuff. Or, maybe he simply isn't healthy enough to contribute as an NFL player. Regardless, for the price he'll likely command, McDowell is well worth the risk if the Cowboys are willing to take it.

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