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Cowboys Offseason Spotlight – DL Rotation

Lett and Marinelli

As we navigate through the 2018 NFL Offseason we will continue to take up-close looks at specific aspects of a team’s roster. Today we turn our gaze at the Dallas Cowboys defensive line rotation.

That is the Cowboys defensive line rotation. A solid group of guys all with potential and all with great work ethics. They are also underwhelming when at less than full strength. A tough group from the inside that just doesn’t t have the skill set to pressure consistently from the edge without Lawrence (and Gregory). They are indeed good with twist and stunts, however.

Let’s put a spotlight on some of these guys.

Tyrone Crawford – Some would say he is a bit overpaid. Ok, but you can not deny he is a glue piece and is a heady veteran presence on game day and at practice. Was the offensive line better sans Doug Free? You get the picture. Dallas needs this guy. He plays anywhere along the line at a high level. Marinelli gold.

Maliek Collins – Played out of position at the 1-Tech last season due to injury. His upside at the 3-Tech is VERY high. Dallas has a history of playing light 1-Tech’s and if they decide to keep Collins there on early downs it would indeed be a travesty. Let the kid compete at a position he’s best suited. By forcing him in at the 1 you are saying “I only want about 70-80% of what this kid can give me AND I want to reduce the length of his career.” I understand they “had” to play him at the 1 last year. Fix this. It’s criminal to force it.

David Irving – Man this kid is EXCITING. His frame (6’7″) screams defensive end but his mental makeup make him better from the inside. You see the term “freak of nature” abused. Not here. This kid is off the charts. Very raw coming into the NFL he is starting to get it and looks to be a JPP type of player from the middle of the line. Is he Too Tall (Cowboys pun alert!) for the inside? His biggest plays have come from there. Can he play from the outside? This kid can play from anywhere, has a nose for the QB and thoroughly enjoys being disruptive. Between him and Collins, the Cowboys are SET at the 3.

DeMarcus Lawrence – Finally put it all together in his healthiest season. Is he a “contract year wonder?” No. His maturation was right on schedule and in line with his health.  Pay the man, then set back and enjoy what he brings. So far his biggest plays have come from the strong side yet he shows the ability to be effective from either edge. I believe he will continue to improve.

Randy Gregory – Pothead. That label reveals more about the person using it than about Randy Gregory himself and is a disservice to the real issues this guy has faced. The young man had/has some serious issues he was/is dealing with and yes, the evil weed was one of the things the guy turned to in order to cope. To be clear, this is the same ‘evil weed’ the league is probably going to make “ok” shortly. The only thing this guy is guilty of is having a problem so big he couldn’t deal with it himself. It has cost him millions of dollars already and the team a valued second-round draft pick.

By all accounts Gregory is coming back with the gas pedal smashed to the floor. Josh Huff came back and took the league by storm last year. Johnny Manziel is reportedly sober and working out hard in Canada. People can recover from this affliction. Word is Gregory just may be one of those guys.

If he does, this changes things for Dallas. You have to remember he hasn’t played in a long time but he is a definite upgrade over Mayowa if he is indeed back. This kid has a first step you can’t teach. The best on the team. Marinelli and Lett can handle the rest.

Taco Charlton – Another raw prospect. The Taco came on towards the end of last season and it was fun to watch. He played primarily from the weak side last year. The team is reportedly moving him (primarily) to the strong side this year and IMO that move would help him tremendously. I think you will see him get solid rotation minutes this season. Think David Irving learning curve.

Charles Tapper – Love the skill set, concerned about the (lack of) availability. I’ve seen this guy in drills. He has the raw skills to dominate from the weak side. In his year three, he will do one of two things in my opinion, excel or clear out his locker. It will all depend on his ability to stay healthy. Wishing him the best.

Richard Ash – 6’3″ 333 lbs. NOW we are (finally) talking true 1-Tech. Marinelli likes his guys to be able to play multiple positions. However, he usually keeps one WDE specialist (Mayowa) and one 1-Tech specialist. Ash is that guy, however, he sat in favor of Malik Collins last season and that’s understandable. in 2017 the Cowboys were not as good against the run once they lost their early 1-Tech choices to injury. Collins is better on passing downs but he had problems holding up. For this season Ash needs to play. A lot. Or ……

Talent Acquisition

I will cut right to the chase. The Cowboys need a dominant 1-Tech more than they need a new WDE in my opinion. They get “that guy” and the dominos allow them to push talent up the rotation giving them better results all across the board. If Dallas pulls the trigger on a player like Washington DT Vita Vea or a DeRon Payne the effects will be felt at every position along the line. You get Randy Gregory back to specialize on passing downs and this group just maybe gets nasty. They would certainly be better versus the run and massively improved against the pass. Both steps in the right direction.

If Dallas wanted to step out of character and go the Free Agency route Dontari Poe and Sheldon Richardson are both classic 1-Techs that can push the pocket on occasion and be disruptive in the backfield. However, I like the raw skill set of Vita Vea and Payne better. I’m sure Jerry will like the pay scale better.

The Dallas defensive line rotation is solid. It has the potential to be nasty. Going to be an interesting offseason.

Grade – B

What say you Sports Nation?

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Steven Van Over

Steven Van Over

Analyst, Editor, Photographer, Writer at SportsTalkLine
Editor, Writer, Podcaster & Photographer for @SportsTalkLine Network. I watch sports, I talk about sports then I write about sports. Catch me on Twitter @StevenVanOver
Steven Van Over