Injuries and the Cowboys defensive line have become synonymous. Whether you are talking about 2013 or 2014, injuries are shaping things in a major way. Take for example George Selvie. The defensive end has a real shot at starting for Dallas in 2014, but wouldn't even be on the radar if the 2013 injury wave hadn't hit. Ditto Nick Hayden, who is fighting for playing time in 2014, but probably wouldn't even be considered if he wasn't forced into action in 2013. The after-shocks of the injury earthquake of 2013 are still being felt.
Cowboys Defensive Line Depth Chart
Now that the majority of the player-acquisition phase of the offseason is out of the way and the player-development time is kicking in, let's take a look at the depth chart on the Cowboys defensive line.
The Cowboys are not shy about dealing with injuries. This offseason they've brought in or re-signed a group of players who are battling injuries. Tom Ryle covered it here. How these gambles pay off along the defensive line is anybody's guess, but Stephen Jones gave us an idea of how the front-office is looking at it.
But they’re not going to rush back the players coming off injury who need this time in the offseason to get into playing condition.
"If you’re talking about Spencer, Whaley, Amobi, those guys, they’re not going to be in the mix early," Jones said. "So you’re looking at some other guys, hopefully you’re working through who’s the cream of that crop. You’ve got some plans for each one of them, but obviously we know exactly what Anthony and Henry can do, and we know what Amobi can do if he can get healthy."
Let's unpack some of that. Jones did not include Henry Melton in the group that wouldn't be in the mix early, so there's hope his knee injury is recovering on schedule and he will be ready for training camp.
The Cowboys are also counting on familiarity. They know what kind of player Anthony Spencer is if he gets healthy. They also know about Amobi Okoye and Henry Melton through Rod Marinelli.
Okoye was a top 10 pick of the Texans in 2007. He recorded 5.5 sacks his rookie year, but he never reached that number again the next five seasons playing with the Texans and the Bears. Still, he showed enough in that latter stop to make an impression on Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and the Dallas personnel department.
"Amobi’s been dealing with some medical issues that he’s got to overcome, and a little bit the same way, if he gets back from them, then Amobi can play," Jones said. "He played very well for Rod. Obviously, we’ve got somebody who knows him well."
So while those three guys try to get healthy, and Melton is probably brought along very slowly, the rest of the guys will be in fierce competition to make an impression on Marinelli and the Cowboys. If you believe competition is good, then this should certainly help the Cowboys find some talent in the group.
Joey Ickes did his preview of the defensive line here, take a moment to read that. Bryan Broaddus also took his shot at it today.
I expect George Selvie and Jeremy Mincey at the ends with Henry Melton and Nick Hayden at the tackles to start, than it’s anyone’s guess from there. The questions will be where Tyrone Crawford lines up first -- at either tackle or end? Between Terrell McClain and Amobi Okoye, who plays as the under tackle or the nose? Next week’s practices will give us a much better idea of how this might all fit together.
The OTAs will be intersting to watch for sure, but the real competition will take place at Oxnard in late July. One other note, Henry Melton's legal issues are finally all cleared up. He settled the civil suit from the fight in a bar that took place last year, today the law enforcement charges were dropped.
The Tarrant County District Attorney’s office announced Wednesday that a misdemeanor assault charge against Melton is being dropped. A lawsuit filed by the bar owner was settled last month without a monetary settlement.