4 under the radar players who could steal a spot on Cowboys roster

Dorance Armstrong, Dallas Cowboys (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)
Dorance Armstrong, Dallas Cowboys (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Cowboys, John Ridgeway
FAYETTEVILLE, AR – SEPTEMBER 11: John Ridgeway #99 of the Arkansas Razorbacks reacts while watching a replay on the scoreboard during a game against the Texas Longhorns at Donald W. Reynolds Stadium on September 11, 2021 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Razorbacks defeated the Longhorns 21-40. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

3. John Ridgeway, DT

For some reason, the Cowboys have de-valued two very important defensive positions in years past. Under Jason Garrett and Rod Marinelli, they seemed to believe they could plug anyone in at nose tackle and safety. Despite being burnt by this philosophy for years, they never wavered.

Since Dan Quinn joined them as defensive coordinator in 2021, things seem to be trending in the right direction. Dallas added three safeties in free agency last year and after Jayron Kearse and Malik Hooker played well, they both received new contracts this offseason.

Now, Quinn might also be convincing them that a run-stuffing nose tackle is a good thing as well. In the fifth round of this past draft, Dallas added Arkansas defensive tackle John Ridgeway. A massive man at 6-5 and 321-pounds, Ridgeway had 39 tackles, with four going for a loss in his final collegiate season.

However, he didn’t get on the Cowboys’ radar due to his numbers. What jumped out instead was the punishing way he played. Ridgeway played with violent power, throwing offensive linemen around with ease and clogging up running lanes.

In Dallas, he won’t be a three-down player, but they won’t need that from him. They have several guys who can play on the interior and provide a pass rush. They even have defensive ends such as DeMarcus Lawrence who could slide in and allow them to play more speed rushers in passing situations.

What they don’t have is that bully in the middle who can destroy the ground game on early downs, allowing the playmakers to get out there on third down and get after the quarterback. That’s what Ridgeway brings and he could be a contributor very early in his career.