The Dallas Cowboys are 4-3, atop the NFC East, and on a bye week with nine games remaining on the 2019 schedule. The break in action comes at a good time given their injuries as of late. However, with no team on the schedule to fret over this week, it’s never too early to take a look inward at some needs that the Cowboys could be aiming to address come May.
The Cowboys came into the 2019 season hoping the defense could build on a stellar 2018 season and help them reach long forgotten heights. For the most part, the defense has stacked up with expectations but there’s always places to get better.
Being strong up the middle is always important for a defense, especially for a team like Dallas that wants to let their young, fast linebackers run around and make plays. So, with that in mind, the interior defensive line group is one that the Cowboys should be keeping a critical eye on as the season progresses.
The defensive tackle position has been an area of need for several years but mostly no premium draft capital has been poured into the position. The highest drafted players would be Trysten Hill (second round, 2019) and Maliek Collins (third round, 2016). For Dallas to get better up the middle, they might have to either invest more resources into the development of those players or into upcoming drafts.
Collins is in the final year or his rookie deal and could be looking for a new team come the offseason. Hill hasn’t been on the field much in his rookie season. After being the first selection in the 2019 draft class for Dallas out of Central Florida, Hill didn’t suit up until the Miami game in Week 3 and he has watched his snap counts drop every week since.
The lack of playing time for Hill is partly due to the return of starter Antwaun Woods this past week. However, with the season ending injury to Tyrone Crawford, the Cowboys need more from Hill and offseason acquisition Christian Covington. The former Houston Texan Covington has also seen a drop in playing time as of late. The Cowboys are relying on the big boys up the middle to make more contributions and looking for the right combination of players to help take the pressure off DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn on the edges.
The Cowboys starting defensive ends are two of the most double-teamed rushers in the NFL so the tackles are seeing plenty of one on one opportunities with limited success. The lack of an impact from the tackles has to change with the more difficult part of the schedule on the horizon.
Given their play, there is no question that defensive tackle will once again be among their top needs this offseason. Whether the team addresses that in free agency or in the draft remains the question, but the Cowboys may need to start pouring premium draft capital into the trenches on the defensive side of the ball as they have with the offensive line over the last decade.
One name that should be looked at is Oklahoma senior lineman Neville Gallimore.
The Sooner DT is a disruptive force that the Cowboys could certainly use in the middle of their defense. Gallimore plays with good hand technique and moves laterally very well for his size. He has shown the ability to beat offensive linemen at the top of the NCAA food chain with his active and violent hands.
Injecting an athletic freak like Gallimore into the Dallas defensive line would be a boon and is something the Cowboys could use right now and for the future. When watching Gallimore, he rarely gets driven backwards which would free up the the current strength of the Dallas defense to make plays.
The Cowboys have a need at defensive tackle and even if Collins is retained, the team should still look to upgrade the position.
We’re a long way out from the 2020 NFL Draft but, at the halfway mark of the 2019 season, what areas do you think the Cowboys should be focusing on to improve? Share your thoughts with Patrick on Twitter @DraftCowboys.
More Cowboys coverage on WFAA:
- Cowboys acquire DE Michael Bennett from the Patriots
- Cowboys owner Jerry Jones: 'Jason Garrett is not a yes-man'
- Patrick’s POV: Dak Prescott showing he’s the man to lead Cowboys
- Cowboys Hash Marks: Dallas snaps losing skid with 37-10 win over Eagles
- Why Dak wants more to validate dominating victory over Eagles
- 5 things from Eagles vs Cowboys: play-making defense sets tone in dominant win