Dallas Cowboys believe they’ve landed a potential impact player
One of the biggest concerns on the Dallas Cowboys roster has to be defensive tackle. Yet, they seem to believe they may have found a hidden gem there.
The Dallas Cowboys continue to undervalue one position on their roster. And that’s the role of the defensive tackle. The front office and coaching staff has been notorious for their belief quality players at the position can be found without the usage of much resources.
Therefore, the Cowboys have opted not to sign any high-priced free agents at the position or even draft them. In fact, Dallas possessed 10 selections heading into the 2018 NFL Draft. Not one was used on a defensive tackle, despite it being an area of need on their roster. That’s just how much the Cowboys believe they can find cheaper alternates for filling those roles.
Yet, the suspension and off-the-field issues surrounding defensive tackle David Irving plus the foot injury suffered by Maliek Collins means the Cowboys have entered training camp without their best starting duo from 2017.
Currently manning the position in Oxnard are names like Brian Price, Datone Jones, Antwaun Woods, Daniel Ross, Lewis Neal, and Richard Ash. Most of which are likely not to make the Cowboys final 53-man roster.
But in the absence of Collins and Irving, one name has risen above the rest as the team’s best hope for solid defensive play from the position. And that’s former second-round selection Jihad Ward. The Cowboys acquired the third-year defensive lineman in a trade with the Oakland Raiders this offseason. Ward was sent to Dallas in exchange for their former 2017 fourth-round pick, wide receiver and special teams returner Ryan Switzer.
According to NFL’s Network Steve Wyche, the Cowboys believe Ward could be an important piece of their defense.
"” … Ward, who never established himself in two seasons with the Raiders after being picked in the second round, the Cowboys feel he is a perfect fit in Rod Marinelli’s 4-3 front. He’ll play the 3-technique with hopes that he can create some interior disruption. So far, he’s shown well against a strong offensive line. Consistency will be important, but a member of the Cowboys’ personnel office said that to this point, they think they’ve landed a potential impact player.”"
Ward’s time in Oakland was marred by injuries as well. He has required two surgeries on his left foot and had a knee operation since becoming a pro. Ward recorded 30 total tackles and a sack during his two-year stint with the Raiders.
The Dallas Cowboys desperately need someone to step up in training camp and the preseason to become an impactful presence at the defensive tackle position. It appears those hopes, in large part, are riding on an unproven 24-year old who has a troubling injury history. Luckily for the Cowboys, they also believe they can find defensive tackle production from nearly anywhere. So, they should have no problem bringing in more talent if Ward fails to impress.