Dec 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive end George Selvie (99) celebrates a sack in the third quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys Defensive Line: Will It Be Better In 2014?


The Dallas Cowboys had a horrible defense in 2013. According to Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas, the Cowboys played 20 different defensive linemen in 2013. When you have that many guys playing for your team you know you’re in trouble, and that’s exactly what Dallas had last year. So it begs the question, “Have the Cowboys done enough this offseason to improve over last season?” When you’re as bad as they were last year, you would have to say yes. Let’s look at it a little deeper and see if they are really better off.

Free Agency gave Dallas the first shot at upgrading and filling holes. Four players inked deals with Big D; Jeremy Mincey, Terrell McClain, Henry Melton, and Anthony Spencer. Melton and Spencer are the only two that have starting experience and are even projected to start for that matter. Given the given the cap issues Dallas is always plagued with, none of this is a surprise. At the same time, significant change doesn’t come from injured players like Spencer and Melton, or rotational guys like McClain or Mincey. Not usually.

The next shot the Cowboys had was during last week’s Draft. One solid way to get over the hump is to draft smart and get guys that can come in and help right away. The key is not reaching on players, but only time will tell if a player that is tagged as a reach, truly is that. Dallas hit the defensive side of the ball pretty hard in the Draft, giving up their second and third-round pick to move up and take Boise State defensive end Demarcus Lawrence in the second round. In the seventh round they picked up Stanford defensive end Ben Gardner and Northern Illinois defensive tackle Ken Bishop. The only player of the group that is projected to make any real impact as a rookie is Lawrence, considering his draft position and the kind of athletic terror he is on the field. The other two, if they make the team, will be rotational players at the very best.

As for the guys coming back from last year, there’s a couple that could take a real step forward in Rod Marinelli’s defensive scheme. Tyron Crawford is coming off a torn Achilles, but showed real promise this time last year. Defensive end George Selvie’s career was resurrected last year when he was brought in to help fill glaring holes on the defensive line, as was the case for defensive tackle Nick Hayden. But is any of this enough? On the surface we see a lot of random players, players coming off injuries, and unproven commodities. How will this be an upgrade over name-brand players like DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher? Strength in numbers and competition Cowboys fans. Rod Marinelli is a master of getting more out of a defensive player than they could have ever realized.

With all of these hungry players looking for a chance to compete, Marinelli has what he wants for a defensive line. It may not seem like much of a defensive line right now, and there may be some growing pains in the first quarter of the season, but this line is being built with the right kind of players by a guy who knows what he’s doing. Trust Marinelli. This defense may surprise you.

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Tags: Ben Gardner Dallas Cowboys Demarcus Lawrence DeMarcus Ware George Selvie Jason Hatcher Nick Hayden

  • Old Frog

    I’m going with JJ’s statement that on paper, we’re better today than we were the last game of the season. That in itself might get us to the playoffs.

  • David

    It cant be worse..

  • Earl Robertson

    It going to be better I think this rookie will get at least 6 sacks, Melton will be at least half as good as Hatcher. But we should have Crawford, Bass and Spencer that there will improve it greatly

    • David

      Hatcher is a one year wonder. He was just solid to good before that. Melton if healthy was one of the best DT’s in the league. And I would not even count on Spencer. That is a very tough injury to come back from.

      • Earl Robertson

        Hatcher played in a 34 which hurt him greatly in getting stats but he getting old so I would rather have Melton but he coming off injury also like Spencer

        • David

          Their injuries are not even close to the same. So you cant compare them like that.

          • Earl Robertson

            Could u tell me what the differnece is?

          • David

            Sure because I have had both done. Here is the one Spencer had. The microfracture surgery is more centered around the cartilage in your knee cap area and can result in needing a knee replacement. This is why some years back if you had this knee injury it was almost always career ending.

            http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007255.htm

            Melton just had his ligaments repaired which is more common among athletes.

          • Earl Robertson

            Ok thanks I thought Spencer wasn’t that bad but I guess it was and Cowboys got a steal then on Melton hopefully he will have a good year and they can sign him

          • David

            I mean dont get me wrong bro I hope Spencer comes back and is 100 % healthy. But there was a reason no one was lining up to sign him. Its a tough injury to come back from. It retired me from my profession. Plus the Cowboys still dont know how well he will be as a 4-3 DE. I am sure they are not even counting on him in their plans and if he comes back healthy its a bonus.

          • Earl Robertson

            Man U were right about Spencer

          • David

            Yeah bro Ive had it done to my right knee and like I said it retired me. Thats why I was saying the Cowboys have to prepare like he is not even available and if he comes back strong and plays its a bonus.

  • Chad

    The only position of curiosity here is our 1-tech. Crawford seems the more likely to be the swing guy when it comes to the 3 and DE, so that leaves McClain, Bass, & Hayden to play in the middle. If none of them really stand out, will the front office finally make the move to take a 1-tech early in the next draft?