Projected defensive front runners to make Cowboys final 53

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Osa Odighizuwa, Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa (75) (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports) /

. . . Defensive tackle. 6. player. 123

The final six spots on the Dallas Cowboys 53 man roster are dedicated to the defensive tackle position with an eye on guys who can play 3-4 defensive end also.

I think Neville Gallimore is going to have a big year so I have him listed as defensive tackle number one in my book. The recovery of Tryten Hill from a major knee injury makes me think Gallimore is going to be the starting 3 technique but we should see plenty of Hill there also.

The one technique is going to be a rotation but I think that is where Brent Urban is going to be used. He isn’t the biggest guy but he is very consistent. Having a selfless guy like Urban occupy blockers so that those around him can make plays is something we have all been asking for.

Sure, he may not be the name or have the prototypical size some were hoping for but he is a guy I am glad is on the roster.

Trysten Hill was starting to find his footing before getting hurt last season and I expect him to rotate regularly with Gallimore at the three spot but also figures to be a good four technique when the defense splits their LEO out wide. Things get really crazy after this. Before we get to the other guys, I am carving out a space for a specialist.

That specialist is Quinton Bohanna and he is the plug in the middle. Any short yardage or goal line stance has to start with Bohann lined up over the center. Having a guy in the middle that is rarely pushed back has to be his primary job and focus.

Rookies get in trouble when they try and do too much when they should be perfecting their strengths. All Bohanna has to do to make a roster spot is not give up any ground while providing the occasional push up the middle. His ability to back up the regulars at the one technique will be a bonus and his sheer size will automatically make the linebackers behind him able to flow freely to the ball carrier.

With four guys slated to make the roster already and spots nearly depleted, versatility has to be the name of the game.

Defensive tackle Carlos Watkins was a free agent pickup from the Houston Texans and was arguably their best run-stopping interior lineman last season. I was happy to hear that until I found out Houston had the worst run defense in the league last season.

Houston was only one of two teams to give up 2,500 rushing yards last season.

While he has that working against him, he also has two third-round rookies to deal with. Osa Odighizuwa and Chauncey Golston look to be reincarnations of Tyrone Crawford. Hard-working stout individuals who fell positionless.

I hope that the new defensive staff can figure out a way to get these guys on the field without having them think too much. Whenever rookies start off learning multiple positions, it often stunts their growth. As I was writing this I was prepared to cut one of these third-round rookies in favor of Carlos Watkins but I had a change of heart.

Watkins could and should make this roster but I think the Cowboys are going to run a 3-4 front more often than we probably think and that is exactly where you get instant production from your rookies.

3-4 defensive ends have a similar job to a one technique. They are asked to occupy blockers while playing the run in order for the pass rushers to harass the quarterback. If these two guys can show the strength to hold up against grown men in the middle, the Cowboys can alternate and rest their defensive lineman simply by changing what type of front they want to employ.

What if opponents started their opening drive and saw a row of the three drafted rookie defensive linemen consisting of Odighizuwa, Bohanna, and Golston maintaining blocks while a combination of pass rushers, which includes linebackers and safeties, rush from different angles.

In the next series, the opponent comes out for another drive only to see a well-rested traditional front of Lawrence, Gregory, Gallimore, and Hill awaiting them. This versatility can not only buy rest time for the defensive line but it also gives you more time before the opponent can catch on to what you are doing.

Imagine having to alternate your play calling depending on what kind of defense is lined up. Those types of moving parts could give your defense the extra edge that could be needed to compete for a playoff spot. I am tired of having the defense bend but not break. The Cowboys have to do something different and start trying to attack people. What’s to lose, it can’t get any worse than it was last season.

I really want to keep Watkins on the team but I have both rookies making the squad and Watkins the odd man out. I just hope I haven’t made a “Woody” Dantzler type of mistake.

Interior Defensive Lineman (6) (53)

  • Neville Gallimore
  • Bent Urban
  • Trysten Hill
  • Quinton Bohanna
  • Osa Odighizuwa
  • Chauncey Golston