Will the Cowboys again draft a defensive tackle early?

USC Trojans defensive lineman Marlon Tuipulotu (51) (Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports)
USC Trojans defensive lineman Marlon Tuipulotu (51) (Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports) /

Once again, the Dallas Cowboys are going into the NFL draft with a glaring need at defensive tackle. That’s despite the Cowboys using multiple high-draft selections on the position fairly recently and attempting to address the issue via free agency too.

Since 2016, the Cowboys have used a Day Two selection, either a second or third-round pick, on a defensive tackle exactly three times. Those players being Maliek Collins in 2016, Trysten Hill in 2019, and Neville Gallimore just last year.

The defensive tackle position has been a big focus for the Cowboys in free agency over the past two years as well. Last season, Dallas signed big-name veterans like Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe. This year, it’s lesser-knowns in Brent Urban and Carlos Watkins.

Coming off a season where the Cowboys ranked 31st in the NFL in run defense, the lack of a true run-stopper along their defensive line has taken the brunt of the blame. And Dallas once again figures to address this persistent need in the draft.

Yet, if one top decision-maker in the upcoming draft is right, America’s Team may be forced to once again invest a high draft pick on a defensive tackle. And that’s due to a perceived lack of talent at the position in this draft class. Check out this tweet from National Insider for NFL Network and NFL.com, Ian Rapoport …

If this unnamed decision-maker is right, the Cowboys may be forced to draft a defensive tackle in the early rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft later this month. Fortunately for Dallas, they currently own four draft picks in the first three rounds.

The top defensive tackle prospect in this class appears to be Christian Barmore out of Alabama. While he’s projected to be a first-round selection, the Cowboys might hope he falls into the second round.

But if Dallas is looking for a true-run stopper, a nose tackle, or someone to play the one-technique in the 4-3, the best option just might be USC’s Marlon Tuipulotu. At 6-foot-3, 305-pounds, Tuipulotu has started at nose tackle for the Trojans for the past three years and possesses all the necessary skills to become a dominant run defender on the NFL level.

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Tuipulotu recorded a total of 102 combined tackles, 15.0 tackles for loss, and 8.5 sacks over his previous three seasons at USC. And he’s projected to be as high as a possible day-two selection in the upcoming draft, which is right in the window where you might expect the Cowboys to start hunting for a defensive tackle.