Before defensive lineman David Irving was a Dallas Cowboy, he was a Kansas City Chief.


"Once I didn't make their team," Irving remembers, "I was like, 'well that was my only shot, now it's gone.'"

Irving -- who went undrafted after he was dismissed from the Iowa State football program in college -- followed his winding path from the Chiefs practice squad to the Cowboys, where he's become a key factor on their defensive line. In three games this season, the 6-foot-7 force has 5 sacks.

All thanks to...

"Maliek missing sacks. Me missing sacks," fellow defensive lineman Demarcus Lawrence jokes. "We just call 'Dino!' and he cleans everything up."

Much of Irving's success comes from the combination of his extraordinary size, and the fact that he's limber enough to bend to get around offensive linemen. Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said that combination is very rare. So much so, he invoked the name of future Hall of Famer Julius Peppers, to illustrate the point.

"That's a compliment, man," Irving said. "Especially coming from Marinelli, you know. He's been around for a very long time."

"Boy his length inside... matters," Marinelli explains. "And he uses it well because he's an athlete."

And Irving knows -- that size is why he's in the NFL today.

"It's weird. You know, I'm not, I guess 'shaped' like an interior d-lineman. But, it's been working. Just gotta keep it going," Irving said.

And coming from where he did, that in and of itself is an accomplishment.

"It's crazy how it turns out. I never thought I'd be in the NFL, regardless, once I left Iowa State. It's been crazy, man. It's changed my life."