3. Carlos Watkins, DT
The Cowboys were at the bottom of the league in terms of run defense in 2020. With defensive tackle Trysten Hill coming off ACL surgery, Dallas needed bodies to fill the interior of their line. Owner/General Manager Jerry Jones was not going to commit a significant investment into the position a year removed from the Gerald McCoy deal, which never panned out.
Enter in defensive tackle Carlos Watkins. The former Clemson Tiger was previously with the Houston Texans before signing a one-year deal with the Cowboys this season. This signing smelled of “rotational depth.” Before 2021, Watkins had only four career sacks. There were no more than four tackles for loss in a single season, and he played defensive end in a 3-4 scheme.
Quinn had a clear vision for Watkins and shifted him inside to play the one technique on the defensive line. His vision worked as Watkins has been exceeding expectations all season. He currently has one sack and five tackles for loss on the season. However, his most impressive play is his pick-six off New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill.
Watkins’s biggest asset to the team has been his availability. When fellow defensive tackle Neville Gallimore injured his elbow in the preseason, it was up to No. 91 to step up and fill the void. The run defense for Dallas sits at 12th in the league in large part due to the consistent play of Watkins.
Each week, it seems his production on the field is getting better and better. Maybe the combination of him and Gallimore is starting to click. If he’s willing to stick around on another one-year deal in 2022, it might be beneficial for Mr. Jones to look at resigning Watkins at the end of the season.