Big update on Cowboys defender will get fans more excited for Mike Zimmer

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It's been a long offseason for Dallas Cowboys fans. After a dormant free agency and a lack of urgency from the front office to sign CeeDee Lamb and Dak Prescott, the hiring of Mike Zimmer might be the only move fans can hold onto as the NFL Draft approaches.

The Cowboys still boast a strong defense despite losing multiple big contributors in free agency, including Stephon Gilmore, Dorance Armstrong, Dante Fowler and Johnathan Hankins. Starting linebacker Leighton Vander Esch also retired due to complications from his latest neck injury.

In order for Zimmer to work his magic with the defense, he'll need another nose tackle and linebacker, whether it be via free agency or the draft. While Zimmer was influential in the signing of veteran LB Eric Kendricks, the linebacker room needs at least one more body.

Not only is Vander Esch gone, but Markquese Bell will return to his natural safety position under Zimmer, per David Moore of the Dallas Morning News.

Mike Zimmer moving Markquese Bell back to safety is great news for the Cowboys

With no Vander Esch or DeMarvion Overshown, who tore his ACL in preseason, Bell converted to linebacker for most of last season. He surprisingly found instant success and was a revelation at the position while 2022 fifth-round pick Damone Clark endured somewhat of a sophomore slump.

The Cowboys promoted the likes of Rashaan Evans and Malik Jefferson off the practice squad for extra depth, but neither player made an impact. That speaks to the level Bell played at, and now-former defensive coordinator Dan Quinn rewarded him with a whopping 701 snaps.

By season's end, though, Dallas' opponents sought out Bell's lack of size and exposed him in the running game. It didn't help Bell that Clark was inconsistent and the Cowboys' nose tackles got moved off the ball. However, the Florida A&M product struggled getting downhill against teams like the Bills, Dolphins, Lions and Packers. In those games, Bell posted a 56.6 run-defense grade, per PFF.

It's worth noting that Quinn's hands were tied as far as playing Bell at linebacker, but it's highly encouraging that Zimmer is moving Bell back to his natural position. With Jayron Kearse still a free agent and unlikely to re-sign, the Cowboys could use another versatile safety.

Bell exceeded expectations at LB, but his move back to safety just confirms Zimmer's commitment to stopping the run. The defensive guru knows Dallas needs bigger bodies patrolling the second level of the defense and Bell's 6-3, 205-pound frame got really exposed in the biggest games of the season.

This benefits all parties and adds to the growing excitement around Zimmer.

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