Cowboys "Front Seven" Ranked Worst In NFL; Is There Any Hope They Will Improve?

Dallas Cowboys fans can pray that the defense rebounds this year. - Tom Pennington

Ouch, the Dallas Cowboys defense is getting hammered in offseason evaluations.

The offseason analysts giveth, the offseason analysts taketh away. Last week, OCC brought you the enticing possibility that the Dallas Cowboys could be looking at the top offensive line in football. He quoted Mike Tanier, formerly of Football Outsiders, who wrote about the Cowboys line and had them ranked at the top of his 2014 list. I've read a lot of Tanier's stuff before and he's well-researched and reasoned in his approach. So his ranking of the Cowboys line confirmed what many of us were starting to believe - the Cowboys were building a formidable unit up front.

Well, when you flip it around and look at the Cowboys from a defensive front seven perspective, things all of a sudden get ugly. Tanier came out with an article ranking the top defensive front sevens, and in direct contrast with the offensive line, he ranks the Cowboys dead last.

32. Dallas Cowboys The Cowboys lost DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher and (in the saddest, most ridiculous minicamp story of the year) Sean Lee from a defense that allowed 2,056 rushing yards and recorded just 36 sacks last year. Henry Melton arrives as a younger, more system-suited replacement for Hatcher, but everything else is a shambles. Bruce Carter, Justin Durant and DeVonte Holloman form the most anonymous linebacker corps in the league, and only Carter has any significant starting experience. Anthony Spencer may start the season on the PUP list as he battles back from microfracture surgery on his knee. And of course, the Cowboys are so cap-stressed that they wouldn't be able to sign a veteran reinforcement, even if one becomes available this late in the offseason.

The wisest thing the Cowboys could do is insert rookies Demarcus Lawrence and Anthony Hitchens into the rotation quickly and let them learn on the job. The Cowboys did not get into this predicament by doing the wise thing. But they are so thin and talent-poor that they may not have a choice.

Well, you can't really argue logically on this. What you can do is hope that Rod Marinelli can raise up a couple of these new guys up like he did with George Selvie. You can also hope that they'll stay relatively healthy (besides Sean Lee) and hope that Bruce Carter suddenly becomes the player he certainly has the skills to be.

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