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Did the Dallas Cowboys improve at defensive tackle in 2018?

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Taking a good look at every position on the roster and asking the question: Did the Cowboys improve?

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Cleveland Browns Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

[In this series, we’ll take a look at the additions and subtractions at every position on the Dallas Cowboys roster. We’ll compare where the Cowboys were to where they currently sit and ask the ultimate question. Did the Cowboys improve or not? In other words, do you feel better about the state of the roster going into the 2018 season?]

This season:

Maliek Collins - 16 games played, 22 tackles, 2.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries

David Irving - Eight games played, 22 tackles, seven sacks, six pass deflections, one forced fumble, missed four games due to PED suspension, missed four games with concussion

Stephen Paea - Four games played, seven tackles, one TFL, retired October 13th (chronic knee condition)

Brian Price - Eight games played, eight tackles, one pass deflection, placed on IR November 8th, re-signed two-year deal in free agency

Richard Ash - 10 games played, 12 tackles, one pass deflection

Datone Jones - Signed in November, four games played, nine tackles, one sack

Lewis Neal - Practice squad, promoted in November, seven games played, eight tackles

Daniel Ross - Signed off Chiefs practice squad in November, three games played, five tackles, one sack, one forced fumble

This season:

Maliek Collins - currently rehabbing broken foot

David Irving - suspended first four games for violating NFL’s substance abuse policy

Jihad Ward - via trade with Raiders, 2017 stats: five games played, one start, one sack, one tackle

Brian Price

Datone Jones

Richard Ash

Lewis Neal- Is he playing fullback or defensive tackle?

Daniel Ross

Antwaun Woods - waived injured by Titans, signed with Cowboys as free agent, played one game for TEN in 2016, three tackles

The Cowboys two best guys have a few questions surrounding their availability. Maliek Collins has shown to be a fast healer as he experienced the same injury as a rookie, rebounding with five sacks. David Irving is so explosive when he’s available which is always something that’s in doubt. He’ll miss the first four games of this season for missing a drug test, leading to the feeling that Irving just cannot be trusted.

Jihad Ward and Datone Jones are both two guys that have been taking starter reps while Collins rehabs and Irving sorted out his personal life. Jones is disruptive enough to play as the three-tech, managing to snag a sack in only two games last season. Ward is a player that the Cowboys like a lot, enough so that they traded for him. He’s been a standout player in the offseason practice program and is currently taking reps at the one- and three-tech position. Both guys have a lot of upside and the coaches are excited by them but they still lack experience.

Brian Price was another player the Cowboys liked enough to trade for back at roster cuts last season. Price is the quintessential one-tech tackle that has a little bit of athleticism to get upfield, a prerequisite for Rod Marinelli. Richard Ash has been a guy that the Cowboys can count on to play a role off the bench. Daniel Ross and Lewis Neal are both a little undersized for the position. With Neal, the Cowboys were trying him out at fullback but that may have been a short lived experiment. The coaches were impressed with Neal’s ability to rush the passer but there are questions about him having consistent success. Antwaun Woods is a player that bounced on and off the Titan’s practice squad before the Cowboys signed him.

Conclusion: There is just so much to unpack here because the Cowboys have no idea who will be their starters come week one except that Irving won’t be one. They certainly believe that Collins will be back by then, which gives him one of the starting positions. However, it’s a toss up finding the guy that’s going to play next to him and there’s always an outside shot they move Tyrone Crawford inside temporarily. The Cowboys may keep their eyes open in case they see a move to make but it’s likely that they’ll try and get through the first month with what they have. The Cowboys only got 10.5 total sacks from a majority of these same guys last year but it’s not all about pass rush. They need guys that can stop an offense from running it down their throats on every play. At this point in time, it doesn’t seem like they have done enough to feel comfortable at this position.

Poll

Did the Cowboys improve at defensive tackle in 2018?

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    Yes
    (551 votes)
  • 46%
    No
    (851 votes)
  • 22%
    Indifferent
    (409 votes)
1811 votes total Vote Now