Dallas Cowboys Draft Focus Begins With Defensive Tackle


There really shouldn’t be too much difficulty in predicting that the primary focus of the Dallas Cowboys heading into the 2015 NFL Draft will be the defensive tackle position.

Each year, mock drafts build themselves over and over based primarily on what all teams lost during free agency. For example, the Cowboys lost running back DeMarco Murray to the Philadelphia Eagles, hence the idea that replacing the NFL’s defending rushing champion should be unquestionably the first line of business.

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Mock drafts would be more interesting to me if many more of them were focused on actual team needs, as opposed to simple subtraction as a result of the open market each March.

If your Dallas, the big picture suggests that defensive tackle is the most glaring need for this team, at least if you consider what was missing while the franchise still had Murray and his outstanding single season in the backfield last year.

Just weeks ago, I would have sold you that defensive end was the most pressing position on the roster, and that’s almost true as of now. But there’s no denying that the acquisition of former Carolina Panthers edge rusher Greg Hardy, polarizing as it was, has more than quelled this idea.

Factor in last year’s second player selected, Boise State University’s DeMarcus Lawrence, a second-round pick that missed half of the season, and the urgency for another end to lead off the draft seems even more unlikely.

Furthermore, free agent Anthony Spencer might very well return on a contract that in no way resembles the back-to-back franchise tags he enjoyed in 2012 and 2013.

Remember ’14 sack leader Jeremy Mincey?

And who exactly is Efe Obada of Great Britain, and how might he factor into Dallas’ plans to get more heat on opposing quarterbacks?


Yes, the first choice could be a running back – Melvin Gordon from University of Wisconsin or University of Georgia tailback Todd Gurley.

Or, owner and general manager Jerry Jones, with head coach Jason Garrett jumping up and down behind him, could repeat the same mistake that he made just three years ago in selecting a rookie cornerback who’s expected to start right away and be successful – likely without a great pass rush for the first part of the season.

My money is on defensive tackle.

This week’s release of 2014 project Amobi Okoye all but assures that Dallas will address the interior of the d-line as long as it makes any sense at all according to it’s draft board. I was assuming that Okoye would finally join the show this season along with ’14 redhirt rookie Chris Whaley, a near clone of former Dallas defensive tackle Henry Melton.

Whaley is expected to show what he’s got in training camp, and hopefully that’s a very strong showing. The former University of Texas lineman looks to be healthy and ready to go.
But what if he’s not?

According to DallasCowboys.com, there are exactly six DTs listed on the roster. These include listed DE Tyrone Crawford, Josh Brent, Davon Coleman, Nick Hayden, Terrell McClain and the previously mentioned Whaley.

I think the Cowboys are in great shape with Crawford entering his fourth season and also heading into a contract year. Never again, in all likelihood, will Crawford have a greater incentive and maybe even opportunity to push double-digit sacks.

Brent is probably not the best fit for the franchise now that it’s left the old, antiquated 3-4 alignment that he never really had the chance to successfully plug the middle of.

Coleman is rather mysterious.

Hayden is serviceable and isn’t going anywhere.

McClain is much like Hayden, at least in terms of what he means to the defensive line as a big-time playmaker – in other words, he’s not.


Well, perhaps Whaley can earn a roster spot, but we really don’t know exactly how likely this is. I think Whaley could be a huge surprise, but until this week I thought Okoye was in the plans also.

The consensus top two defensive tackles in this year’s player selection meeting are University of Southern California defensive lineman Leonard Williams and University of Washington 3-4 nose tackle candidate Danny Shelton. Don’t scout these guys too hard because they won’t be around once Dallas goes on the clock, presumably once the 27th selection rolls around.

Do keep tabs on some very interesting prospects that also do or might have first round grades by the time the draft arrives.

Malcom Brown of Texas is mocked to the Cowboys in a few mock drafts.

Looking deeper and you’ll probably find a sizable combination of either mock drafts or speculation that Florida State University run stuffer Eddie Goldman could end up wearing the blue star.

There’s several others that could also fit the bill for Dallas, but in terms of first round talent and temptations are concerned, I believe that Brown and Goldman are the best fits for the defensive scheme, both for slightly different reasons.

Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli really squeezed blood from a turnip last year, and I don’t look for that to happen again. It’s time for this defensive line guru to get his due, which could very well elevate the Dallas defense to some lofty heights once the season begins.

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