4 biggest Cowboys needs after signing Keanu Neal

Keanu Neal, Atlanta Falcons, (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Keanu Neal, Atlanta Falcons, (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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Antwaun Woods, Dallas Cowboys
Antwaun Woods, Dallas Cowboys, (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

4. Defensive Tackle

The Dallas Cowboys defense was really bad in 2020. The team finished the year giving up the fifth-most points in the league with 29.6. The unit also gave up the second-most rushing yards per game with 158.8.

Needless to say, the team headed into the offseason in dire need of help on defense. That need obviously extends to the defensive line and specifically to the defensive tackle position which comes in at number four on this list.

The Cowboys will also head into 2021 with a new defensive coordinator in former Atlanta Falcon head coach Dan Quinn. Quinn is expected to move the team to a 4-3 defense which will require the team to double the number of defensive tackles it has on the field.

All of this means that the team needs to both upgrade its play in this position and simply add bodies along the defensive line in general. Fortunately, the organization seemed to be dedicated to doing the latter through much of the start of free agency. The team signed three new defensive linemen in Tarell Basham, Brent Urban, and Carlos Watkins (more on them in a bit).

Dallas also placed a franchise tender to defensive tackle Antwaun Woods which makes it likely he will be back with the team next season. The 28-year old defensive lineman posted 23 total tackles and one sack in his fourteen games played last year.

(Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly claimed Antwaun Woods played his entire career with the Cowboys. Woods actually went undrafted out of USC in 2016 and was signed by the Tennessee Titans, playing his first two seasons with them)

Of the teams’ new additions it is expected that both former Houston Texan Carlos Watkins and former Chicago Bear Brent Urban will at least get some playing time at defensive tackle next year. These moves certainly check the “add more bodies” part of the teams’ needs at this position, but do they sufficiently improve play at the position?

Fortunately for fans of America’s Team, they will not just have to rely on these new additions to make that happen next season. The organization also has two promising, young players at the position in Neville Gallimore and Trysten Hill. The 22-year old Hill will try to make his way back from a season-ending ACL injury last year while Gallimore will look to build upon some of the progress he made towards the end of the season.

Regardless of how one feels about both Hill and Gallimore (as well as the teams’ new additions at the position), it should be noted that none of these players are “sure-things” moving forward. The Dallas Cowboys still currently have a need at this position that should be addressed in the remainder of free agency or the draft.