Even with new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn entering the picture, the Dallas Cowboys are in need of a sizeable overhaul of the defense this offseason. All three levels of the defense require an infusion of new talent.
Multiple Cowboys’ free agents are set to test the market and Dallas will fortunately not retain a good portion of them. New blood is desperately in demand, and success in the draft will be monumentally important for a quick defensive turnaround.
Dallas fans have been begging for early draft investment at 1-technique defensive tackle for years. The Cowboys 2021 first round pick likely won’t address this greatly lacking position. However, Alim McNeill is an ideal prospect to target in the second.
After face planting in one season from 11th to 31st in rushing yards allowed, the Cowboys must solidify their flimsy run defense. It’s very likely management will re-sign 2019 free agent addition Gerald McCoy to help at 3-technique.
Third year tackle Trysten Hill and McCoy would be a solid youth and experience rotation at the 3-tech. 2020 rookie Neville Gallimore showed the strength and explosion to play either tackle spot when needed.
For depth at 1-technique, Dallas returns Justin Hamilton (6-2, 315). They may also re-sign restricted free agent Antwaun Woods (6-1, 318). However, as has been the case for years, the Cowboys need to add a powerful, big-bodied, explosive player to start at 1-tech. Alim McNeill would be a great fit for Quinn’s under tackle position.
ALIM MCNEILL (6-2, 320)
NORTH CAROLINA STATE
CAREER STATS: 32 GAMES, 77 TACKLES, 17.5 FOR LOSS, 10 SACKS
DRAFT PROJECTION: 2ND ROUND
Cowboys fans who’ve long desired a big, powerful, disruptive interior tackle will enjoy watching McNeill wreak havoc in the middle. He brings both run clogging ability and an explosive first step to boost interior pass rush.
McNeill was an inside linebacker in high school and conference player of the year. He also played right field in baseball earning all-conference three times, and academic all-conference four times. McNeill is clearly an intelligent, athletic, over-achiever.
He played in all 13 games (1 start) his Freshman year at North Carolina State and earned Freshman All-American. McNeill snagged First team All-ACC and Second team All-American honors in his Junior season (2020).
Dallas is allergic to spending high picks (2nd Round or above) on a 1-technique, but McNeill has the versatility to play both spots and could change their mind. Imagine this high motor, mountainous beast disrupting the middle for the Cowboys.