For about a week or so now, I have been pondering the ideas of our DL. I see us picking in that 8-14 range in the 1st RD and missing out on Nick Fairley, Patrick Peterson, Prince Amukamara, and Marcell Dareus. In that range I think we should look at DE/DT Cameron Jordan from Cal, who plays in a 3-4 already. Derrek Sherrod would be my other choice but that's a whole other fanpost.
Ok lets start from the beginning. I am a huge Jay Ratliff fan. I think the guy is a beast and is a great character guy for our team, I wish I could have 10 other Jay Ratliff's on defense, but again thats a whole other topic. My purpose of this fanpost is to discuss our DL, Rat, and the draft. I was always one of those guys who said we should never move an All Pro NT to DE. Well, after watching this season unfold, I am really more than open to the idea. Ratliff is getting no help from his DE's. Ratliff is getting manhandled and owned by the Center and Guard, if you want a good example of it re-watch the play of LeSean McCoy busting a 57 yard run. The problem is I have seen way too many of these type of plays, where Ratliff gets owned as soon as the snap occurs.
Now we all know our DE's are suppose to primarily clog the run. Yes thats true, but our DE's need to generate some pass rush and be disruptive getting into the backfield. Last year I think we saw that, but not this year. Maybe we just had a good year from Igor Olshansky last year, but this year I see a big and strong DE who has no awareness of where the ball is or what to do properly. Last year I was among the people who commended signing Igor for cheap and letting Canty walk, but that idea has soured. Maybe we should have kept Chris Canty, who knows, but at 5 million dollars next season I think Igor is not worth that kind of money. Do we miss Marcus Spears? Maybe in the run department, but just like Igor he doesn't generate a pass rush or is disruptive enough to free up Ratliff.
That's why I think it may be wise to move Ratliff to DE next year. If they don't want to do that, that's fine. I am perfectly fine with Jay Ratliff as our NT, he is a beast like I said, but let's fix our DE's then. We need guys to stuff the run but it's time to get DE's that can be disruptive and generate a pass rush. We need more plays from our DE's. Part of the lack of pass rush can be blamed on them, also Anthony Spencer, who did get to the passer last night by the way. So that's why I want to take a look at Josh Brent at DE and Cameron Jordan in the draft.
A guy I think we should really give a good look at is Josh Brent. Now if he is a starting DE or NT and you move Ratliff to DE, again that's a Dallas Cowboys decision, but Josh Brent has a lot of talent and we are very fortunate to get a quality player like him for a 7th rd pick. I think if he was in the draft he would have been a 3rd-4th rd pick easily. Hatcher and Bowen are good depth guys but nothing more, they don't have a future in Dallas as playmakers on the defense. I think Igor should be released and draft a DE or spend that 5 million dollars on a better player. As much as I love Marcus Spears we shouldn't resign him either, unless he stays for a reasonable salary. Spears is good on the run but not disruptive as we need.
This is were I would look at Cameron Jordan from Cal. He had 12.5 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks this season. I watched him play and the guy is relentless. He is a beast that I really think could bring our DL back to a higher play. He can rush the passer, be disruptive, and stop the run. He also had 3 forced fumbles this season too. The guy is a smart player and already is in a base 3-4 defense so that I think really helps us going forward with a guy that has been in a 3-4 defense. I know people like Marcell Dareus, but a lot of the draft "guru's" are saying the same thing I have been saying, he hasn't had the wow plays and been disruptive like a guy of his caliber should be. If we're on the clock and Jordan and Dareus are there, I would take Cameron Jordan. It's getting back to basics, winning in the trenches. I think that's something we have lost since the Vikings playoff loss, winning the trench battle. With a DL that is disruptive and can generate a pass rush, I really believe that frees up so much more on the defense. I think good DE's make our NT better, I think better DE's make our pass rush better which makes our secondary better.
Now Cameron Jordan, according to www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft, is listed at 6'4 285 lbs. But the guy plays bigger than that, he really is a beast. I believe he could add another 15 pounds to his frame easy, and a guy with that size at 300 lbs is a real force. He has played inside at Cal, but from what I read he is ideal at DE. Now I think the Cowboys will take a hard look at him and invite him in to Valley Ranch this April. If you remember they loved Tyson Alualu last year, and imo Jordan is better. Another thing about his size is it's similar to Canty in being a big athletic DL. If you ask me a more talented Chris Canty would be great for us.
So in conclusion I think it's time to get back to basics, win the trenches. Thats our DL and OL, but OL is a whole other fanpost itself. I honestly believe if we get this DL fixed our defense would be a lot better.