Without Everson Griffen, Will Rookie Bradlee Anae See More Opportunity?

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.

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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

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.

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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.

What do you think?

Kevin Brady

Written by Kevin Brady

Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.


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  1. ALL the rookies should be playing right now. Anything and everything the cowboys do for the rest of the yr should be with next yr in mind. This yr is a lost cause so we need to use the remainder of the season as an evaluation period of the roster, with particular focus on the rookie’s. We need to know which rookies can play and how they handle live game action.

    Second I would immediately fire Nolan. Do we really want the DC of this historically bad defense to continue teaching these young guys? However It may be more prudent to wait till the end of the season to look for his permanent replacement ,when more DC are available. But I would promote a coach from within to take the over for now. I don’t want Nolan to have the opportunity to continue putting his stamp on this team. The culture of this team needs a serious makeover and it needs to start with the DC. I suspect McCarthy will get at least another yr considering the short training camp and all of our injuries.

  2. I’m not ready to throw in the towel just yet with us being in the NFC East! BUT it is imperative that we make a change at the DC position! It is so obvious that MN hasn’t got a clue in how to coach and put players in position to make plays! What I can’t understand is how people like me that can sit back and second guess what coaches do and we probably don’t know a fraction of what these coaches know BUT what is ironic we are right! If MN finishes the season and turns this defense around I’ll be the first to apologize!! The Cowboys has to make a move NOW!!

  3. I’m not saying tank games, but I’m not in favor of any decisions short term that would compromise our preparation for next yr and beyond. Our mindset needs to be the future. Playing the players that are underperforming and/or aren’t in our future plans only serves to eat into the reps the young guys need for them to mature and for the coaching staff to evaluate them.

    Like it or not we are in rebuilding mode. We need to be phasing out many of these underachievers and bloated contracts guys., especially on the defensive side of the ball. Play our young DLinemen and LBs. We need to know what we got there so we can know where we need to go.

  4. Dear lord I hope so. ALL the rave about this guy and literally stealing him in the draft and hasn’t sniffed the field.. Let them freaking play

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