The starting defensive line for the Cowboys this season averaged a mere 285 pounds; some times all you really need is a little more beef. I believe this free agency period will allow the Cowboys to find an upgraded starter at the one-technique if they look in the right direction. Well, look to the AFC West and it's glaring you in the face. Terrance Knighton could really be that "beef" the Cowboys would love to have.
Nothing against Nick Hayden, who has done exactly what has been asked of him, but it's time for the Cowboys to find an upgrade at the position. As well as Hayden has played, he still isn't a starter for most teams in the league at the one-tech. It has been circulating that Knighton may become available; if so, the Cowboys should pounce on the opportunity.
Now that Denver has flipped their coaching staff and hired Wade Phillips as their defensive doordinator; some believe that Knighton isn't the right scheme fit. Knighton, who will be 29 this summer, will likely be looking for a better deal outside of the Mile High City. It is my opinion that Knighton would be the perfect partner for Tyrone Crawford in the middle of the Cowboys' 4-3.
Knighton went to Temple, where he played as a true freshman and earned a start in the final game against Navy. That year he would register 17 tackles, 3.5 for loss and a forced fumble. His sophomore year he earned the starting gig and performed very well with 52 tackles 6.5 for loss, three sacks and two forced fumbles. His junior year was well received as well with 8.5 tackles for loss and a team-high three fumble recoveries. Knighton would be named Temple's first First Team All-MAC honoree; a season in which he had 54 tackles, five break-ups and three fumble recoveries.
Knighton was drafted in the third round of 2009's draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. At the time, Knighton's selection was criticized as a "reach" by Sports Illustrated's Tony Pauline. He was quoted saying "Knighton had a weight issue and too many downsides to be taken that high in the draft." In his rookie season, Knighton received the highest signing bonus and quickly became a leader for Jack Del Rio's defense. He would also earn PFWA and Sporting News' selection to their All-Rookie Team's respectively.
Terrance would go on to become a team captain and make 49 starts before becoming a free agent in 2012. After a coaching change in Jacksonville and only 6.5 sacks, Knighton was allowed to test the market, it was no coincidence that he signed with Del Rio's then Bronco defense. In 2013, Knighton exploded with five sacks, 27 hurries, a forced fumble, and an interception. It was Knighton who sacked Tom Brady on a crucial 4th down to send the Broncos to the Super Bowl.
According to PFF, Knighton graded highly in 2014 with an overall +15.3 mark. He is known primarily for being a good run defender, but graded positively in all categories. He only recorded two sacks this season but had 10 hurries and forced 20 negative plays. I believe that Knighton would be a great addition to the Cowboys because of his ability to better take on doubles. He's shown in the past that it's going to take more than one person to keep him at bay. If he were to land in Dallas, we would certainly see the sack tallies raise significantly. Knighton possesses a nice burst that allows him to get in the backfield at times too. It's not pure luck that has helped him forced a lot of negatives for the opposing offense.
Not only would Terrance Knighton provide some "beef", but he would also add more stability to the position for Dallas. If the Cowboys chose to keep Nick Hayden, it would allow for Hayden to slide back into a role player, which is where I think he belongs. It's still unknown what the price-tag will be for a player like Knighton, but he would be an upgrade for Dallas.