Welcome to a Landry Hat exclusive, where we continue to breakdown each position, previewing the roster strength of the Dallas Cowboys prior to Training Camp. Last Sunday completed the offensive side of the ball. The quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, tight ends and offensive line can all be reviewed but it’s time to move on the defensive side of the ball. In all honesty, as good as the offense can be, the defense will need to be at least average for the Cowboys to have any chance to finally see a playoff game under Jason Garrett. The most important to the success of the defense will come from the line. If the line can perform at a high level, this team could be dangerous, however if there is another year of mediocrity, there is little doubt that few people on the coaching staff will be back next season.
As a reminder of the positional preview process, I will make one bold prediction about the position, describe what the team needs from each player, offer my guess as to who makes the final fifty-three man cut and rank where each starter ranks in comparison to others at his position across the entire NFL. So as we shift the focus away from the offense and on to the defense, he is the review of the defensive line:
Not only is the term starter going to be quite fluid, the position in which most of these guys occupy will be from time to time as well. I am naming these four guys as the starters, mostly because these will be the positions that they play with more exclusivity than anyone else on this roster. Selvie, the team’s returning sack leader, deserves to be the leader in the clubhouse for the left end spot. The Cowboys finished tied for 25th in the league in sacks last season, besting only the Lions, Texans, Falcons, Bears and Jaguars. Those teams collectively went 25-55, none of them won more than eight games, nor did they make the playoffs. I am not benching the most productive guy on the team, at least to start. Melton was brought in as a free agent to essentially be a younger Jason Hatcher with a higher ceiling while Lawrence was drafted to be the new version of an older DeMarcus. If Melton accomplishes that goal and Lawrence falls a little short, that would have to be considered a win. McClain was the standout of the OTA’s and based on age and ability would be looked at as an upgrade of last year’s starter Nick Hayden.