After a 3-0 start in 2019, the Dallas Cowboys were in a position to win their second consecutive NFC East title. Unfortunately, they went 5-8 in their final 13 games and finished a game behind the Philadelphia Eagles. With holes to fill at cornerback, slot receiver, safety, and edge rusher the Cowboys had some revamping to do in order to get back to the playoffs. In an offseason filled with strategic offseason moves, America’s Team is now locked and loaded and ready to take back the division.
It started in free agency when the Cowboys added much-needed firepower on defense. Gerald McCoy, a former six-time Pro Bowl selection and four-time All-Pro, signed a three-year deal with the Cowboys worth 18.3 million. McCoy is an instant upgrade over the recently departed Maliek Collins at the 3-technique. He hasn’t had fewer than five sacks in a season since 2011 and will give the Cowboys pressure coming from the interior which they’ve lacked for years.
A week after inking McCoy the Cowboys doubled down on interior defensive lineman and brought in Dontari Poe, who played alongside McCoy with the Carolina Panthers last season. A former two-time Pro Bowl selection himself, Poe is an upgrade at the 1-technique over Antwaun Woods who is also still on the roster. At nearly 350 pounds, Poe will be the anchor to clog gaps and draw double teams which will not only assist DeMarcus Lawrence but keep offensive lineman off of the Cowboys linebackers. He’s coming off a four sack season which is the most he’s had since 2014 which was his last Pro Bowl selection.
In between those two signings, the Cowboys upgraded the safety position with veteran Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. New Head Coach Mike McCarthy coached Clinton-Dix for five seasons in Green Bay (including his only Pro Bowl season in 2016) which were the most productive of his career. After being traded to the Washington Redskins in 2018, Clinton-Dix had 66 tackles in 9 games. Last season, he started all 16 games and finished with 78 tackles for the Chicago Bears. He may not be quite what he was a few years ago but he’s still a solid option at safety. He’s only on a one-year deal so he’ll be looking to show he still has a lot left in the tank and secure another payday.
The NFL Draft was where the Cowboys really buffered their roster for the long-haul. It wouldn’t take long for it to start as the Cowboys got an early Christmas present when CeeDee Lamb fell to them at 17. Considered the best wide receiver in the draft, Lamb has the ability to play in the slot and on the outside, much like his new teammate Amari Cooper. This can create a lot of matchup problems for defenses especially when you factor in Michael Gallup. Lamb is a magician with the ball in his hands in open space and attacks the ball in the air. The addition of Lamb gives the Cowboys a three-headed monster at the receiver position.
A round later, the Cowboys stole another top talent by selecting corner Trevon Diggs at 51, who some had mocked to the team in the first round. Diggs is a long and physical corner with excellent ball skills due to his days playing wide receiver. This gives the Cowboys a ball hawk at the corner position who is excellent at jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage and disrupting routes. Diggs could very well be the CB1 for the Cowboys this season.
In the third round, the Cowboys added another piece to the defensive interior with Neville Gallimore out of Oklahoma. He’s relentless in his pursuit when chasing plays down the line of scrimmage. His motor is always on high and he’ll provide much-needed insurance between McCoy and Poe. Look for Gallimore to be in the mix early in the Cowboys rotation along the defensive line.
The Cowboys added another long and physical corner when they selected Reggie Robinson in the fourth round. Much like Diggs, Robinson has excellent ball skills as evidenced by his 34 pass breakups and four interceptions in college. Also, he brings value on special teams as he blocked a kick in each of his four years at Tulsa. He’s another candidate to start as a rookie in 2020.
Probably the ultimate steal of the NFL Draft came in the fifth round when the Cowboys drafted edge rusher Bradlee Anae out of Utah. Anae was a two-time first-team All-Pac 12 performer (2018, 2019) and a Consensus All-American (2019) during his days with the Utes. A technician with his hands, Anae consistently made plays behind the line of scrimmage with 40 tackles for loss in college. Also, he can rush from the edge in a 4-3 or as an outside linebacker in a 3-4. With the Cowboys going with more of a hybrid scheme on defense with multiple looks up front, Anae has a chance to contribute a lot very early.
The Cowboys can sleep well at night knowing that they not only made smart and cost-efficient free agent moves but they were able to add premium draft talent without any real movement accept trading back into the fourth round to land Center Tyler Biadasz. Now, the pieces are in place for them to make it back to the playoffs.