Dallas Cowboys: Free agency moves reveal draft plan

Gerald McCoy, Carolina Panthers (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
Gerald McCoy, Carolina Panthers (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /
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Bobby Rainey #43 of the is brought down by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix #21
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys had positional needs and appeared to address two of them. What is the Cowboys’ draft plan looking like after the recent signings?

The Dallas Cowboys have just come off a season where the team’s record did not match their roster. Some big names also had their contract end, with a tight cap situation resulting in them finding new teams.

Owner Jerry Jones responded by making some signings at positions of need. Three of them were defensive linemen, and one was a safety. What do the signings reveal about the Dallas Cowboys’ draft plan?

Needs vs Signings

Every team has their needs. The chance of having every spot on the roster good enough whereas there is no need to upgrade is rare. The Dallas Cowboys had to look at their defensive line and defensive backs.

This is a result of the performance this past season and the free-agent departures. Two big-name free agents that left were cornerback Byron Jones and defensive end Robert Quinn. Add starters in defensive tackle Maliek Collins and safety Jeff Heath.

The bad thing about those departures is that those were already positions for concern. Jerry Jones responded well with four signings that address these departures signing one safety and three defensive linemen.

Heath was replaced with HaHa Clinton-Dix. The former Chicago Bear is being looked at as an upgrade against the passing game while maintaining good play against the run. The one-year contract allows Dallas to keep him, or let him walk after this year.

The duo of Quinn and Collins was replaced with the trio of defensive linemen Aldon Smith, Gerald McCoy, and Dontari Poe. McCoy is looked at as the “best” of the trio due to his consistent success. He is a nice upgrade from Collins as far as run-stuffing and about even in pass rushing.

Smith has not played in the NFL since the 2015 season. It is very hard to project how a player will rebound after such a lengthy leave, but he had performed well in his five seasons. This is highlighted by his 14.0 sack rookie season in 2011 and All-Pro 2012 season.

After that, his play does drop along with his games played. He had 5.5 sacks and 43 tackles in 16 games from 2014 to 2015. His pass-rush play did slow down a lot, but his work against the run was still quite good.

Poe has never been a premier pass-rusher but has been a great stopgap against the run. This was highlighted by his Pro Bowl 2013 and 2014 seasons. Last season he had 4.0 sacks and 22 tackles in 11 games, which would average out to 6.0 sacks and 32 tackles in 16 games.

Here we can see multiple players added that have had success stopping the run. While there is a lot of attention being drawn to who was acquired, not enough is given to something else.