Dallas Cowboys: How Byron Jones and Randy Gregory Make Immediate Impacts


The Dallas Cowboys first two selections of Connecticut defensive back Byron Jones and Nebraska pass rusher Randy Gregory were made because the team has long term plans for both. However, the Cowboys like for their premium selections to start or make immediate impacts right away. While neither may start right away, here is how they help an ailing defense right away.

According the ESPN.com, Dallas was 17th in third down defense last season, allowing opponents to convert almost 44 percent of the time.

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If other corners Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne do not resolve their situations, Jones may have the opportunity to start. Regardless, he is going to see a lot of time, perhaps even jumping Claiborne on the depth chart. However, do not discount Jones playing safety in the team’s third down packages right away.

The Cowboys said they love their first round pick’s versatility, and did not rule out him making the change to free safety. That position has hampered the team previously, as they have not had a true cover man in the back end.

It is conceivable for strong safety Barry Church to drop down to a linebacker role with Jones playing single high behind him. The single-high looks allows defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli to be more creative with blitz packages.

Jones, whose combine explosion has been well documented, should have the athletic ability to play sideline to sideline. The key for this defense to further enhance its effectiveness, is to get as many cover guys on the field as possible. The Jones selection allows for that. A new look pass rush will help those efforts as well.

Gregory should not be considered a favorite to grab a starting spot with defensive ends like Jeremy Mincey, DeMarcus Lawrence, and eventually Greg Hardy in front of him. What you can expect, however, is Gregory to be a designated pass rusher from the very start of the season.

Gregory was knocked by some for his ability to defend the run. The defensive staff will probably want the 235 pounder to bulk up before expanding his role. However, Gregory’s pass rush talents were the reason he was once considered a top-five talent in this draft.

Expect Gregory to come in on obvious pass rush situations. Early in the season, Mincey could kick down to defensive tackle with Tyrone Crawford. Lawrence will likely be the other rush end. When Hardy returns from suspension, the Cowboys will feature a ferocious pass rush group.

Hardy had rushing experience from the defensive tackle spot in his time in Carolina. While it may not be his full-time spot because of how effective he is as an end, the move allows Dallas to get their best pass rushing group on the field. It will be hard for team’s to double any of them, as all of them will thrive in one-on-one matchups.

Also, remember that Marinelli employs his pass rush in “waves”. He is a big believer is having a full-time rotation among his defensive line. The belief is that a decreased snap count allows rusher to be fresh and explosive throughout four quarters. The addition of Gregory adds another bookend talent to pressure quarterbacks throughout a game.

The Cowboys likely drafted two cornerstone pieces for their defense in the long-term. However, that does not mean Jones and Gregory will not make significant impacts, especially on third down. The two top picks’ versatility will be key in helping Marinelli and his defense get off the field at a higher clip. Dallas fans should be extremely excited about the prospects of this draft.

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