Player By Player, Are The Dallas Cowboys Better Or Worse? (Part II)

Brandon Carr is an instant upgrade for the Cowboys' defense. And he isn't alone.

In Part I of this look at the two deep roster for the Dallas Cowboys, I covered the offense. It was not the most encouraging look at the team, because of - wait for it - the interior of the offensive line. I am sure you are all shocked and amazed.

But overall, the offense probably has not taken a step back. Tony Romo is still the quarterback, and standout players like Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and DeMarco Murray are ready to pick up where they left off. So now, it's time to consider the defense.

You may remember some of the issues in 2011. The secondary at time was unable to cover anyone who could get to a medium jog. Some teams, like the Philadelphia Eagles, absolutely exploited the middle of the field because some of our linebackers looked like they were running in molasses. The only reliable pressure on the quarterback came from DeMarcus Ware, and with the lack of effectiveness in the secondary, the ball was often gone before he could drop the hammer.

Upgrading the defense was a priority in free agency and especially in the draft. As I did with the offense, I have gone through the team, position by position, and made a judgement on whether the player I project to be there as a starter and also as the primary backup is better than the 2011 counterpart (if different). I made assumptions as to who was going to get the job, which of course could change. But right now, this is how I see things.

Check out my take after the jump.

One thing that I think this chart points out: The team's youth movement is starting to pay off. There are a lot of players here, mostly younger ones, that are better this year than they were last year (based on the reviews so far, anyway). Perhaps the days of the Cowboys hanging on to guys a year or two too long are over.

Position Player Trend Comments

SDE

Kenyon Coleman

Coleman has been playing with the firsts for the entire camp. I think he sticks, and you will notice that Marcus Spears' name is not listed anywhere.

SDE

Clifton Geathers

In his case, all reports are that he has gotten better. Also can play the nose.

NT

Jay Ratliff

Another star who would be hard pressed to improve himself.

NT

Josh Brent

Also showing some signs of better play, but I'm staying a tad cautious here.

WDE

Jason Hatcher

Had the best year of his career in 2011. And has been looking very good in camp. I think he is improved.

WDE

Sean Lissemore

Tyrone Crawford fans, please do not panic. He will be on the team, I'm sure, as the fifth DE. But Lissy gets the nod here, not least because he can play all three positions on the line. And under Rob Ryan, he probably will. He may actually see as many snaps as any defensive lineman.

WOLB

DeMarcus Ware

DWare is still DeMarcus Freaking Ware. Be glad to have him looking like himself.

WOLB

Victor Butler

All indications are that he is having a great camp. Looks like he may be taking a step up this year.

WILB

Sean Lee

How can I say Sean Lee is better after his outstanding season in 2011? Well, Rob Ryan says he is. And HE'S SEAN LEE!

WILB

Orie Lemon

Basically, the team went without someone here a good chunk of last year. And Lemon has been looking quite good. If he doesn't get this slot, Alex Albright is likely to, and the same applies for him.

SILB

Bruce Carter

I could talk about how he has looked, the speed and athleticism he is showing. Instead, I will just mention two names: Bradie James and Keith Brooking. Case closed.

SILB

Dan Connor

It really doesn't matter who is the starter and who is the backup here. Both are significant upgrades.

SOLB

Anthony Spencer

He has always been better than many give him credit for. I think that will lead to increased production thanks to the other players on the field.

SOLB

Kyle Wilber

This kid is getting me excited. It looks like the Cowboys know what they will do if Spencer, as expected, leaves at the end of the season.

LCB

Brandon Carr

The only corner who can consistently cover Dez Bryant. And I am just assigning right and left here sort of arbitrarily, since I don't think the coaching staff has made up its mind.

LCB

Orlando Scandrick

Technically the slot or nickle corner, I know.

RCB

Mike Jenkins

This is based on the belief that he will be healthier - and playing to get a big contract somewhere in 2013.

RCB

Morris Claiborne

I figure his injury issues will keep him from starting right away, which may be a good thing in the long run. And remember, he replaces Frank Walker on the depth chart this way. Big arrow up.

SS

Gerald Sensabaugh

Again, I am not sure how strong and free safety will play out. I just think Sensi will be solid.

SS

Matt Johnson

A statement of faith once more. But he technically replaces Alan Ball (who played both saftey and corner during his time with Dallas -don't argue with me). So, ipso facto.

FS

Barry Church

I think he has claimed the job the old fashioned way.

FS

Danny McCray

He's primarily a special teams ace, but I think he has also shown he is a competent, if not spectacular, safety.

K

Dan Bailey

Missed one kick so far in camp. As several others have observed, it is so nice not to be worrying about a kicker.

P

Chris Jones

Not the weapon Mat McBriar was. But then, at this point it is not sure that McBriar is anymore, either.

LS

J.P. LaDouceur

He is already as good as anyone in the league. Can't ask for more than that.

Notice something? On the defense, no position got worse, and many of them got better. In some cases, a lot better. Even many of the returning players are showing themselves to be improved.

The team may have to have the defense carrying a bigger part of the load for at least a part of the season. It looks like they just may be up to the task.

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