Mike Zimmer could help Cowboys sign another impact free agent

Cleveland Browns v Minnesota Vikings
Cleveland Browns v Minnesota Vikings / Stephen Maturen/GettyImages

The Dallas Cowboys improved their defensive line in the NFL Draft by taking Western Michigan product Marshawn Kneeland in round two. While Kneeland's pass rushing needs to improve, his ability to seal the edge against the run fits perfectly with defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.

Kneeland figures to replace the versatility left by Dorance Armstrong in free agency. He can play along the edge and on the interior. However, he's not an outright nose tackle, which speaks to why the Cowboys took Auburn behemoth Justin Rogers in the seventh round.

Rogers will be happy to make the 53-man roster, but Dallas is only a couple players deep at nose tackle. That includes 2023 first-round pick Mazi Smith and journeyman Carl Davis, who spent most of last season on the practice squad and was active for just three games.

Cowboys reporter Patrik Walker of the team's official website believes Dallas will peruse the DT market now that the draft is over. He mentioned six-time Pro Bowler Calais Campbell as a potential fit, but also a former Zimmer disciple from his days as Vikings head coach.

Mike Zimmer could help Cowboys sign DT Linval Joseph

A former second-round pick of the Giants in 2015, Linval Joseph joined the Vikings when Zimmer was hired as head coach in 2014. He was among Zimmer's first signings in Minnesota and had his best year's under Zimmer's tutelage, including making back-to-back Pro Bowls in 2016 and 2017.

Now 35 years old, Joseph's best days are behind him. He was a part-time player for Buffalo last season after signing in November. That is likely what he would be for the Cowboys so that he can keep his legs fresh.

Even in his mid-30s, Joseph remains a towering presence at 6-4 and 329 pounds who can clog lanes in the trenches. In 2021, Joseph showed he still boasts some pass-rushing upside. His 83.0 pass-rushing grade ranked ninth among interior defenders, per Pro Football Focus. That's not what he'd be paid to do, but it's nice to know he can contribute in both facets.

No, Joseph wouldn't make the Cowboys' interior defensive line a world-beater. Even if Zimmer helps Dallas sign the grizzled vet, they should bring in another experienced nose tackle. However, Joseph would be a major upgrade over Davis and even Smith depending on how he rebounds in year two.

Zimmer was already influential in the signing of linebacker Eric Kendricks. If he can help the Cowboys improve at nose tackle, Jerry Jones should give him a raise on the spot.

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