The 2020 season has gone far from planned for the Dallas Cowboys. But one spot where it has gone exceptionally poorly is on the defensive line.
The Cowboys made a few veteran signings in the offseason which they believed could solidify a tough unit, but instead resulted in nothing but massive failure. Defensive tackle Dontari Poe allegedly showed up and played overweight, and Gerald McCoy suffered an unfortunate injury in training camp that ended his season prematurely.
Then there’s defensive end Everson Griffen, who after a super slow start had actually turned it on a bit over the last two weeks. Griffen was traded to Detroit this week, ending his short career with the Cowboys midway through the season.
But what does this mean for the Cowboys left still on the roster? Of course Randy Gregory is expected to see an uptick in reps, as he should. And one can assume that Dorance Armstrong will step into an even bigger role going forward, as the coaches seem to love to give him snaps.
Could Griffen’s absence also mean more playing time for the rookie Bradlee Anae, though?
Anae was a star at Utah, earning All American Honors and being named the Pac-12’s best defensive lineman in 2019. Despite incredible college production Anae fell to the fifth round of the 2020 draft, largely due to some very poor athletic testing numbers.
His measurables are concerning for sure, and he would be the exception to the rule if he were to succeed at the NFL level. But it’s also pretty rare you see a division one pass rusher produce like Anae did and then fail in the NFL.
Anae measured with 31 7/8 arms at the Senior Bowl & Austin Jackson just measured with 34 1/8 arms at the combine, yet Anae’s timing, placement & usage of his length helps him beat the OT who has a 2-inch reach advantage, which goes with what you’re saying https://t.co/0CEIXIcUaT
Anae has yet to see much action at all this season, but head coach Mike McCarthy did hint that his usage could be changing. McCarthy told the media that the trade would create opportunity for the team’s young players.
Mike McCarthy on the Cowboys trading veteran DE Everson Griffen to the Lions: “It’s more about creating more opportunities for those young guys.”
Of course, I would take that to mean that Bradlee Anae will see some more action moving forward. After all, the team needs to know what they may have as they look to rebuild the defense in the offseason.