Dallas will begin the season with a promising three-tech in Tyrone Crawford, but too many maybes after that. Nick Hayden, Terrell McClain, Amobi Okoye, Ken Bishop and Chris Whaley all look to be in the mix, yet it is undetermined which roles they will fill.
Despite some of our beliefs that the Cowboys could use a bigger bruiser in the middle, Marinelli doesn't necessarily require that prototype of player. Instead, Marinelli's prime focus is getting quarterbacks to the ground. With that said, Hot-Rod likes to get as many skilled pass-rushers on the field at the same time. The only issue is that the Cowboys need more skilled pass rushing tackles for that theory to work. Let's take a look at the available prospects that can help Dallas achieve their goals.
1. Malcolm Brown, 6'2 319 lbs, Texas
Brown does a really nice job carrying his big frame and has shown the versatility to play multiple positions. He's got the ideal speed and recognition to routinely make plays outside the line of scrimmage. Brown is frequently the first lineman off the ball and creates havoc in the backfield. He's got great vision to locate the ball quickly and never stop his penetration. Brown has a relentless motor and effort that makes him an ideal fit in the 4-3 scheme. With great sliding and spinning moves, he's often into the action quickly. Brown is a very mature player (already married with two children) and volunteers in his community with Adam's Angels for children with cancer. Brown will need to show better power an technique at the pro level and will also require more depth in his pass rushing moves. With that said, Brown is a hands-down first rounder with his best football ahead of him. He'll likely be gone by the time Dallas has a chance to grab him.
2. Arik Armstead, 6'7 292 lbs, Oregon
Armstead has an imposing frame with room for more weight and muscle. He's got great length and broad shoulders with even weight distribution throughout. Armstead shows good functional strength to jolt would-be blockers and discard of them and uses his height advantage to locate the ball quickly. He was often asked to drop in coverage and showed the great balance to do so effectively. Very light on his feet for his size but at times negates his own power by standing upright. He relies too often on bull-rush techniques and needs a direct lane toward the quarterback, will need help with creativity in rushing. He still needs development in his position but is only scratching the surface of his potential. That being said he's a day one selection with a beastly frame.
3. Eddie Goldman, 6'4 336 lbs, Florida State
Goldman is my perfect candidate for a bigger guy to plug up space. As I said, I'm not so sure how Marinelli plans to deal with this position. That said, Goldman was extremely productive for the Seminoles. He's quick off the snap and uses his powerful limbs to get off blocks. He knows how to play low and is an expert at anchoring. He's got great balance and rarely gets pushed back. He has great bull-rushing ability with surprising speed to close on quarterbacks. Goldman has shown his knack to force turnovers and once latch to a ball carrier, he's going down. Goldman will need development learning consistent pass rushing techniques. He was surrounded by a lot of talent and was used in a rotation, will need to finely tune his abilities at the next level. He's likely a bottom of the first round selection.
4. Jordan Phillips, 6'5 329 lbs, Oklahoma
Jordan is a naturally large man with great weight distribution, long broad shoulders, and thick lower half. He'r surprisingly athletic for his size and has great initial burst and quickness. He's got the explosiveness and staright-line speed to ruin would-be plays before they have time to develop. Phillips is very effective with the swim move and can slap blockers away pretty routinely. He has shown his ability to disrupt passing lanes and bat down balls. He's very powerful and straight knock blockers on their behinds. He's onto something bu still needs a bit more development, like Armstead he has a tendency to disrupt his own abilities by standing up. Phillips has a ton of upside and is my candidate for Dallas. He's often compared to Dontari Poe, whom I've really liked since he's been with Kansas City. Phillips should be there for the taking around the Cowboys pick in the first round but may make it to the second.
5. Michael Bennett, 6'2 293 lbs, Ohio State
Bennett is a very active tackle with outstanding balance and foot technique. Michael wins his battles with his quickness off the ball and ability to latch and rip at blockers to physically remove them. His high motor and attitude allows him to penetrate the backfield with extreme success. Bennett has improved backfield vision with the controlled footwork and change of direction skills that is uncommon for the position, allowing him to play up and down the line of scrimmage. He will need work in not getting discouraged if his first move doesn't work. At times he shows lack of power needed at the next level. Bennett has great control but leaves more to be desired with double teams and will need to improve in that area. Bennett will likely be taken off the board in the late second or early third round.
6. Grady Jarrett, 6'1 304 lbs, Clemson
Jarrett is my pet cat and would love for him to don the star. He's not as big as the others but his relentless spirit and motor is exactly what Marinelli looks for. His short, squatty frame give him leverage at his position and he plays low very well. Grady has shown that he's a very strong and fluid athlete. He also possesses the strength to knock blockers off their stance. He gets good extension and rarely misplaces his hands allowing him to free himself regularly to the quarterback. Grady lacks the ideal size but is so quick on his feet and has impressive start-stop motion. He's also got keen awareness and knows that due to his limitation he requires that great speed to win his battles. A little too short-armed to knock down passes but never gives up and has a great spirit and attitude to win his fights. Will likely be a day three pick due to his size, but the team that get's him will love his drive, motivation, and competitive spirit.
7. Rakeem Nunez-Roches, 6'2 307 lbs, Southern Mississippi
Rakeem is starting to garner a bit of attention for his ability to shoot up the gaps and rather quickly. He's got above average agility and balance and plays with the desired lower sense of gravity. He's got multiple levels to his power and is able to distribute it correctly when engaged. He's a grinder and as a pass rusher he often gets to the corner fairly quickly. Rakeem possesses a good motor and an ability to find gaps and drive upfield through them. He's missing the size and brute strength necessary to consistently handle himself in his battles so he will have to play in a one-gap, up-field defense. He plays hard and pursues hard but can lose the ball at times and needs development in recognizing play-action. Will certainly be a third day target but could be very solid as a rotational player.
These are just a few names that could be on the Dallas Cowboys' radar come late April. There were a few names that I left out such as Carl Davis, Gabe Wright, and Marcus Hardison, mainly because I'm just not that high on those guys. Out of all the positions in the draft, the interior defenders have quite a bit of depth. Depending on how Dallas ranks their needs, there are potential candidates throughout.
Our next part in the series will look toward adding a potential swing tackle for the offense. Jermey Parnell wasn't perfect by any means but he certainly left a hole that needs filling as Doug Free's backup.