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What Holes do the Dallas Cowboys Need to Fill?

The Dallas Cowboys got a lot accomplished in the first two parts of player acquisition opportunities; the initial phase of free agency and the NFL Draft. However, they still have some holes to fill on the depth chart.

Tight End

With the imminent retirement of future Hall of Famer Jason Witten to join the Monday Night Football crew, there is a sizable hole at tight end. Sure, even I have spoken of the decline of one of the best to ever play the position, but that doesn’t change the fact that he was the best player on the roster at the tight end position, even entering his 16th season.

Rico Gathers has some raw natural ability for the position, but hasn’t earned enough trust from the coaching staff for them to consider him a viable long-term option at the position.

Geoff Swaim is a really good depth player at tight end, but at this point it would only be speculation to assume he could be a starter in the NFL.

The team really likes the potential of Blake Jarwin, who they signed as a UDFA after the 2017 NFL Draft, but at this point, we’re still just talking potential. He spent most of 2017 on the practice squad.

Dalton Schultz, the rookie tight end out of Stanford, could very well be the guy to take the lead as he has very refined blocking skills from playing in Stanford’s pro-style offense. Schultz didn’t get many opportunities in the passing game, but that’s not because he didn’t have the ability. Stanford’s offense just didn’t throw the ball a ton in their run-first scheme.

There is some nice potential for the Dallas Cowboys at tight end, but they’re lacking anyone with experience. I’d look to add a veteran free agent to compete with the young guys and see what shakes out.

Stephen Paea, Maliek Collins
Dallas Cowboys DT Stephen Paea, DT Maliek Collins

Defensive Tackle

The Dallas Cowboys went into the draft with David Irving and Maliek Collins as their primary interior defensive line players. On passing downs, that’s a pretty solid twosome. Collins played through injuries in 2017 but was solid when asked to play as the 1T defensive tackle. Ideally, you’d play him at 3T.

They added Jihad Ward, the former second round pick of the Oakland Raiders, in a trade for Ryan Switzer, but he hasn’t shown the consistency at the position to live up to where the Raiders selected him.

In his rookie season, Ward started 13 games and played in all 16, and registered 30 combined tackles. He didn’t register a sack. His 2017 was derailed by injuries.

He has good size at 6-5, 295 lbs, but needs to develop his game and get some injury good luck. He could be another David Irving-like diamond in the rough for the front office. As a rotational player, it should allow him the ability to shine.

After those three, we’re talking about David Ash, Datone Jones, and Brian Price. The Dallas Cowboys like to throw numbers at the defensive line to see who will flash and stick with the team. We all clamored for them to add a 1T defensive tackle this offseason, and they still can in the next wave of free agency, or after training camp cuts take place.

Safety

The Dallas Cowboys passed on the opportunity to add Pro Bowl Safety Earl Thomas when they declined the Seattle Seahawks’ offer of Thomas for Dallas’ second round pick. It’s easy to say they should have pulled the trigger, but by keeping pick #50 and selecting Offensive Lineman Connor Williams, the Dallas Cowboys solidified their offense to be a contender in 2018.

No Earl Thomas only leaves three viable safety options on the current roster with the move of Byron Jones to cornerback confirmed by new secondary coach Kris Richard. Jeff Heath, Kavon Frazier, and Xavier Woods are a pretty solid threesome at safety, but teams typically carry at least four.

Now, they could move Chidobe Awuzie to safety, but I think that would be a mistake given his play in 2017. He’s an aggressive corner who will make plays on the football.

Jones could go back to safety in a pinch, but you want to be able to put a guy at a position and leave him there. Jones has been moved around a lot throughout his career, it’s time to see what he can do at cornerback. For better or worse.

The Dallas Cowboys could still make a move for Earl Thomas. Until the Seahawks extend him or take him off the trading block, he remains an option for the Cowboys.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

As Stephen Jones and Will McClay like to say, player acquisition is a 365 day a year business. While the team looks pretty solid at the moment, the Dallas Cowboys still have some areas they can address, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them add veterans to address those areas.

What do you think?

John Williams

Written by John Williams

Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual, reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.

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