Leighton Vander Esch
Once again, the Cowboys were able to keep Leighton Vander Esch who was a free agent in the offseason. LVE has gone from a bit of a disappointment to one of the more trusted veterans on the defense.
He's a solid player but he doesn't stand out on film the way Micah Parsons does. No. 11 is the best player not only on the Dallas defense but perhaps on their entire roster. He's a quarterback's nightmare and could be in the mix for Defensive Player of the Year before long.
Their third starter will be Damone Clark who is looking better as he's further removed from his neck injury. He played well on Saturday, as did rookie DeMarvion Overshown.
Jarbil Cox and Devin Harper round out the linebacker corps and each will be used often on special teams.
After trading for Stephon Gilmore this offseason, the Cowboys boast one of the best cornerback duos in the NFL with him and Trevon Diggs. They can go four deep with DaRon Bland — who led the team in interceptions as a rookie in 2022 — and Jourdan Lewis.
Their presence makes Kelvin Joseph expendable, which might feel like a surprise cut. Dallas took him in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft and expected him to be the starter across from Diggs but he has yet to impress.
He's edged out by Eric Scott, who they liked enough to trade up for. C.J. Goodwin is the final cornerback on the roster but he doesn't really see the field as a defender. His calling card has always been special teams and that will be the case again in 2023.