Dallas Cowboys: Which Position Group Will Surprise In 2015?
The Dallas Cowboys offensive line is not only the best position group on the team, but maybe the best in the entire NFL. The young, proven talent that they have accumulated of late has changed their franchise. However, there is only one other position group on the team that can approach their impact level.
One of the best jobs the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff and scouting department has done over the past three years is filling out the depth chart. It hasn’t always been that the team wasn’t talented, but the rosters were top heavy. Any injury to a star player had the potential of derailing an entire season.
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Though the depth has improved drastically, it’s still hard to find one position group that really stands out other than the offensive line. There is star power among the receiver position with Dez Bryant, but the talent drops off considerably after him. The corner position has improved, but it lacks a true number one corner as currently constituted. However, there is one position group that stands out to me.
The defensive line has a mix on star power, promising young players, and others who have a lot of potential. Defensive end Greg Hardy is one of the very best pass rushers in the league. In his last two full seasons, Hardy accumulated 26 sacks.
Second-year defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence is one of the players who many are expecting a leap this season. Lawrence recorded his first two career sacks in back-to-back playoff wins last January. The Boise State product showed up for minicamp with a new body as well, putting on a considerable amount of muscle. With a full offseason in front of him, he is the favorite to lead the team in sacks.
The unheralded man of the group is defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford. The fourth-year pro bounced around the defensive line before finally settling in the vital three-technique spot last season. It was apparent that Crawford was going to find a permanent home there. His raw statistics were eye-popping, but his impact was hard not to notice. Expectations will be very high for Crawford.
The wild card of the defensive line will be defensive end Randy Gregory. The rookie was a projected top-10 pick in this year’s draft before off the field issues dropped him to the second round. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli got a new toy who he compares to former pupil Simeon Rice.
Gregory can focus on rushing the passer while he puts on weight to eventually earn more steady playing time. The former Nebraska alumni should thrive in that role, as he was very polished coming out of school. It isn’t crazy to expect Gregory to be a big-time sack contributor for the defensive line right away.
Finally, the Cowboys have others like defensive end Jeremy Mincey, and tackles Terrell McClain, and Nick Hayden to provide depth behind these heralded rushers. These journeyman are capable of taking on extended snaps, but they are better suited for smaller roles.
The fact that the defensive line has star power, young talent, and good journeyman depth makes them a fascinating unit of a very talented football team. The position has undergone a huge overhaul in two seasons time, as the pass rush was the Achilles heel of last season’s 12-4 team. Surprising or not: this unit is now ready to make the Dallas Cowboys championship contenders.
Next: How The Dallas Cowboys Offensive Line Will Look In September