Because of the new 4-3 scheme, poor play last year, and the problems with Brent and Ratliff, Dallas needs a defensive lineman in one of the first three rounds; we can all pretty much agree on that. The question is, which position do they need the most? All four positions are different, as opposed to the 3-4 where the ends were pretty much interchangeable. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to assume that Spencer is not resigned. If he is signed, the strong side DE goes to the bottom of the list.
I’m going to put weak side DE as the lowest need. I believe that DeMarcus Ware will be healthy for the season and have no problem at DE. As he gets older, he really becomes more suited for that position anyway. Ware looks like he has gotten heavier as he’s gotten older, and I’m sure he’s slowing down as well. Both of these events make a move away from LB a good decision. I think 2014 will be a good year to get some edge rusher depth and prepare for Ware’s replacement.
The 3 technique DT is also a position I see as decent because of the players we already have on the roster. I think Hatcher will be a good fit for that roll. I’m not counting on anything from Ratliff next year, sadly enough. I was not on board with that contract to begin with. Jerry needs to stop signing players to long term deals immediately before they start to age and slow down. I’m not going to go into backups for Hatcher because I don’t think we have any that can adequately fill that position. My questions is, if the 3 technique drives this defense, is Hatcher exceptional enough to handle it? Since I don’t even know if he is, I am positive no one else behind him can do the things necessary to make this defense a success.
There has been a lot of talk about a need for a strong side DE if Spencer is not resigned. I believe Crawford is being short changed in this evaluation. This guy was small for a 3-4 DE coming out of college, but his size should be perfect for a DE in a 4-3. I think he’ll fit the position well and I have high hopes for Tyrone since he played and got a lot of experience in his rookie year. I only list this position as a higher need than the 3 technique DT because there is more certainty with Hatcher’s longer track record.
Finally, it’s time to discuss the 1 technique DT. Who on this team can plug the middle? Lissemore is the only possible option to me, but I still see him as a miscast character when it comes to this job. I think he’d be better as a backup to Hatcher. The ability of Lissemore and Crawford to play the 3 technique is why I list that position as a low need. Even though I don’t think they could play it at a high enough level to make the defense run on all cylinders, they could probably fill in for short stints.
I see the 1 technique as a huge hole that needs filling, but should this position be filled by a first round pick? My opinion is to wait until at least the second round. I don’t think the defense will suffer a huge drop off if this spot is filled by an average stopper or a great stopper. So what will come of the first round pick? A discussion for another post…… (first post, sorry for any bad formatting)