Mar 3, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers former defensive end Aaron Donald waves to the crowd during a time-out against the North Carolina State Wolfpack during the first half at the Petersen Events Center. The North Carolina State Wolfpack won 74-67. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

With The Signing of Melton, Do The Cowboys Still Draft DT First?

The Dallas Cowboys finally made a positive splash in free agency last week when they signed free agent defensive tackle Henry Melton. The former Chicago Bear will fill the vital void left by Jason Hatcher, who signed with the Washington Redskins last week. Prior to the Melton signing, most draft analysts had determined the Cowboys would select a defensive tackle with their first round draft pick in April. Now that Melton is putting the “D” back in Dallas, is that still the case?

Melton wasn’t the only defensive tackle added to the roster since free agency started two weeks ago. Former Houston Texan Terrell McClain was also signed to the team to presumably add depth to the position and compete for the starting role opposite “Big Henry”. McClain joins last year’s starter Nick Hayden, the injured Ben Bass, and Frank Kearse on the depth chart at defensive tackle for Dallas.

With two new additions to the roster, do the Cowboys still have a pressing need at the position? According to executive vice president Stephen Jones, the team believes they can find defensive tackles who will fit perfectly within their system in the later rounds of the draft. This would seem to indicate this position would not be filled within the first three rounds of the draft unless that player’s talent sat atop their draft board when their number was called.

And the one rookie defensive tackle I believe the Cowboys would draft with their first round pick purely based on his talent and potential is Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald. Donald’s name has been linked to the team ever since his outstanding performances during Senior Bowl practices back in late January. And his stock rose to an all-time high when he dominated the NFL Scouting Combine last month. Now, many mock drafts have him gone even before Dallas’ first pick at #16. If Donald happens to fall to the Cowboys, I don’t think they would hesitate to pull the trigger on him, even with Melton on the roster.

But what do you think? Should the Cowboy still draft a defensive tackle first now that they’ve signed Henry Melton? Place your vote below and feel free to explain your pick in our comments section.

With The Signing of Henry Melton, Do The Dallas Cowboys Still Draft Defensive Tackle First?

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Tags: Aaron Donald Dallas Cowboys Defensive Tackle Henry Melton Polls

  • Old Frog

    Operative phrase in the question is “… player available.” There are those such as myself who think Martin should be rated higher than Donald and if available should be taken instead.

  • Albert Smith

    I disagree with the notion that we are covered by the Melton signing, it helps no doubt but considering the injury he’s coming off of and the fact that the 3 technique is the most coveted position in the Tampa 2 then I’m going to still grab him & allow them to battle it out. If Melton is healthy and plays well as before then you have built killer depth along the line, & due to the way the contract is structured if he fails you have a younger cheaper 3 tech which covers you financially and long term I’d love to say that Melton cures what ails us but nobody knows how he will bounce back from the injury. I love the pick the BPA scenario but if Donald is there to pick up he is the BPA.

    • David

      And who plays the important positions of DE, FS and Will? Please dont say Wilcox or Heath for FS or Durant or Carter for the Will. If Dallas was loaded on defense with those positions then id say fine draft Donald, but they are not. Not even close. They can probably grab a Will Sutton in the 3rd or 4th round to go along with the 3 other D-lineman that have already been signed. And if you draft Donald he will be rotational player with Melton. They can not afford to draft a rotational player with the 16th pick.

      • Albert Smith

        If you understand the depth of this Draft then you can see that DE, FS, & LB are available for you after the first round. There no way you’re gonna get every thing in this Draft anyways but if you have the best player at DT looking you dead in the face you take him. Who says Melton will be 100% anyways you don’t know for sure & if you wanna stand up a year from now & say man we should have taken Donald by all means hitch your Wagon to Melton, he isn’t the end all be all. I do like Zach Martin provided Donald isn’t there maybe even a few players rated higher but if he’s there he’s mine John Randle 2.0

        • David

          And what if Donald is a bust. He was great against inferior competetion and his flaws like shorter arms werent an issue. You can what if all day long. But the bottom line is they did get a pro bowl player in Melton and his knee checked out fine. And I do understand the depth to this draft, and its in the D-line. Not at FS where after the top two there is a big drop off. Or at Linbacker which is pretty much the safe after Mack, Barr and Mosely. And you dont draft back up players with the 16th pick. Hell if thats the case they might as well draft Carr if he falls to them at 16. You act like Dallas has the 2nd overall pick and Im saying pass on Clowney.

          • Albert Smith

            No, he doesn’t have to be a backup either in fact he’s so versatile he can kick out to DE plus he’s played in both schemes 3-4 & 4-3, if there’s questions about the competition though I have love for Mack he can be mentioned in that same breath but just as I’ve been saying, if you dominated all comers then that overrides that logic. The same can be said for many other player’s in this year’s draft, but for every Jimmy Graham there’s a Shannon Sharpe or Antonio Gates, where you play & who you play against doesn’t dictate your career on the next level. I have considered all players in the 1st rd but I tend to have a long term view as in a few years from now & I’d rather have a great young nucleus of talent than continuing to relying on free agents so that there’s plenty of cap room, all I’m giving you is my opinion I don’t claim to be the smartest guy in the room but patience is key we can’t give up 1 year after drafting a player as fans and call for his head I hate to say this but it is a process which most Dallas Cowboys fans don’t wanna hear about but as you know sewage flows down hill & until this month Jerry continued to be oblivious to trimming the fat, but going forward we’ll be better off without it. If they were to take Mosley or any other logical choices I’m down but in the end I want to see some sort of progress that’s my bottom line.

          • David

            Well how do you figure he does not have to be a back up? And lets say he beats out Melton or goes to end which is doubtful. He is still going to be a rotational player on a D-line. Marinelli has already said the D-line will rotate 8 or 9 guys. You can not pick a rotational player with the 16th pick of the draft. That pick has to be a full time player as in does not come off the fn field unless the offense is on. And the guys you mentioned in Graham, Sharpe and Gates, none of them were 1st round picks. And I am not trying to argue with you either. I just dont believe you spent the 16th pick on a 3 tech when you already have a pro bowl player there. At least not when you have huge holes at FS and LB.

          • Albert Smith

            Okay, if last year tought us anything it’s that a player is only as good as his last game, & as I recall the Ware’s, Spencer’s, & Rattliff’s of the World were supposed to be a strength of the team but if it was any indication of what may be ahead I’d rather live in the here and now. Again Melton may very well be the player he was pre injury but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it, essentially it sounds as if you’re saying it’s worth it considering there’s a draft in 2015 & why not live with a stop gab for awhile as long as you snag the BPA it’ll be all good, but may be because I grew up a San Antonio Spurs fan as well & Jerry hasn’t shown me that he can take advantage of talent I’m a bit skeptical about that notion but I’ll leave to Marinelli to insure that we get the best players to fit the scheme.

          • David

            I trust Marinelli. He is the who nixed taking Floyd last year which ultimately got the Cowboys Frederick and Williams..

      • PaulATX

        I understand the logic, but Donald is too short to play DE. Say we do get Donald, either Donald or Melton is in the game. Who else is getting pressure on the QB? Mincey and Selvie? I like Barr or Ealy better.

        Not calling anyone out here, but for some reason, people think Barr cannot play DE because he is listed as an OLB. He is 6’5″ 255lbs. Ware is 6’4″ 258lbs. He played OLB in a 3-4 at UCLA.

  • BaMBaM


  • David

    NO they don’t. They have several other important areas of the Tampa 2 to address with the 1st couple of picks.

  • Guy Smith

    Why is this even an issue, we lost Two, signed a guy like Melton, who has an injury history..Here
    is what we do..Bewteen Rds one and four, we Must add a DT, OL, DE and safety, I really dont care Where they are picked..Now that Dallas also has Six 7th rounders, I pawn a couple of them with a Fifth rounder to move Up to get a Third or Fourth rounder, especially if we Really like a player still on the board..I used to Love our draft day when Jimmy Johnson was here..He knew what he was doing..

  • Alex Darden

    Great defenses are built at the line of schrimmage. Look at all the dominating defenses and you see they have several talented lineman. Even if I know Melton will return to pro bowl form, if Donald is there at 16 I take him in a heartbeat. Truth be told if he’s gone and Ealy is there I run the card to the podium. I honestly feel like Wilcox is gettin a raw deal from the media and some fans. Sure he was a little lost at times last year but he was just a rookie. With one year of safety experience at that! I look at it like this, if we had pryor or dix last year I don’t see our defense being any better. But if we had a stronger and more consistent pass rush I definitaly think Wilcox looks better and our D plays better. Woody never becomes Woody with out Leon Lett, Charles Haley and company. He has showed flashes that he has great potential. Give the kid a chance. Just my opinion…..

  • PaulATX

    I’m not going to say this is a lost season, but I think repairing this defense the right way is a two year deal. I think we invested in a 3 technique, if he doesn’t pan out, we fix it next year. That being said we need someone besides Melton getting pressure on the QB. The only two players I see worth a #16 is Barr and Clowney. Obviously, Clowney will be gone, but Barr may be around. If not, we trade back. Chances are Manziel, Bortles, or Bridgewater will slide. We should be able to trade for a late first and a second, or a late first and a first next year to a team that needs a QB. None of those guys will come in and play better than Romo, and I do not like Romo, but it is true. Draft smart. I think Stephen Jones said it right. You draft the best player available FOR YOUR TEAM. Meaning if you wanted an OT second round, but a great OT slides, then you draft him. I like Donald, but I see more benefit to using a first round pick to replace Ware rather than create depth at DT.

  • Guy Smith

    Just wondering if there’s a chance we sign either Wilfolk, Nick Fairly, (released by Detroit), or this player Black Both lines need help.

  • Chad

    If you want to draft a DT, it doesn’t mean he’s got to be a 3-tech. You could take Jernigan, Nix, or Hageman to fill the spot at 1-tech. Chances are, that guy will pan out and that spot is taken care of. If next year rolls around and there is a cheaper (effective) free agent or a killer 3-tech in the draft you can’t pass up, then lose Melton and his $9mil average for the next years.