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Wrapping Up The Offseason: Did The Dallas Cowboys Improve At Defensive End?

Before the dead zone is over and the Cowboys head out to Oxnard, we ask if they have improved from 2015 to 2016?

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

[After that disastrous 2015 season, that saw the Cowboys go 4-12 thanks to the injury bug, we are going to examine the entire roster from top to bottom and ask:

Have the Dallas Cowboys improved?

That may seem like a loaded question but in terms of looking inside and out and taking every variable into the equation that question can be answered. Do you believe that the Cowboys improved from one year to the next?]

Let's talk about the most polarizing position on the Dallas Cowboys' roster, defensive end. There seem to be a lot of names that have been added, will any of them produce?

Last Season:

RDE - Greg Hardy (troubled pass rusher that played 12 games, suspended for 4 games, 6 sacks, not re-signed)

RDE - Randy Gregory (drafted in second round of 2015, played 12 games, 0 sacks)

LDE - DeMarcus Lawrence (started 13 games, 8 sacks, 1 FF)

DE - Jack Crawford (appeared in 16 games, started 1 game, 4 sacks, 21 tackles)

DE - Jeremy Mincey (appeared in 16 games, started 6 games, 0 sacks, 19 tackles, not re-signed)

DE - David Irving (appeared in 12 games, 0.5 sack, 13 tackles)

DE - Ryan Russell (drafted in fifth round of 2015, appeared in one game)

This Season:

RDE - Randy Gregory (suspended 4 games for violating Drug Policy)

LDE - DeMarcus Lawrence (suspended 4 games for violating Drug Policy)

RDE - Benson Mayowa (signed away from Oakland, 2 career starts, 2 career sacks)

LDE - Jack Crawford (re-signed in offseason)

DE - Charles Tapper (drafted in fourth round of 2016 Draft)

DE - David Irving

DE - Ryan Russell

DE - Lawrence Okoye (British Olympian turn football player)

DE - Mike McAdoo (former UDFA, AFL breakout player with 11 sacks, 2 FF)

As we typically do, let's start at the bottom and work our way up with this roster. Standing out in the AFL may get someone like Will McClay excited but let's see how McAdoo can fare in the NFL, he's seemingly a fringe player and could possibly make the roster, everyone is hoping he can be this year's George Selvie.

Lawrence Okoye is a British Olympian and is trying his chances at becoming an NFL pass rusher, sound familiar? Efe Obada was with the team last season but spent it on the practice squad and was released. Okoye is going to have a hard time making this roster even considering the lack of proven talent.

Ryan Russell isn't quite the disaster that Marinelli was yelling out expletives to last season. Apparently, he's coming along just fine but let's see how that translates to the field when it matters. He's going to have to outplay David Irving or Jack Crawford to make an impact.

Irving is the guy that everyone's excited about due to his size and physical nature. He made some plays last season on special teams and his role will increase this season. He may just be good enough to earn a starting position, which isn't saying much at the moment looking at this roster. Charles Tapper has a lot of potential to become a really nice pass rusher as he's an outstanding athlete but he's still a rookie and can't be relied on heavily out the gate.

Jack Crawford has proven to be a really nice player for Marinelli to have in his back pocket. He was able to pick up four acks last year and can play all along the defensive line. Like most of these guys, he'll see a lot of action early but he's at his best in spot duty not starting full-time.

Benson Mayowa may have the most pressure on him as it's not too often a team likes a player that much that they go out and pick up a restricted free agent with little production and give him a three-year contract and $8.25 million. The tape shows burst and playmaking ability but he's had very limited NFL exposure. The Cowboys will be counting on him to produce while the two knuckleheaded starters are out for four-game suspensions

So, did the Dallas Cowboys improve at defensive end?

Umm...who really knows? At this point, there are a lot of things fans wish they would have done. We hope that they are all young and hungry to get after the quarterback but the reality is this defense has only produced under 30 career sacks combined. Another position group that has way too many questions and the answers seem to be absent at least for four games. Even then, it's going to take a while for them to rip-roaring ready to take down the quarterback.

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