Over the course of the last few weeks, we looked at the offense and defense, asking the simple question of where the Cowboys improved their roster from 2017 to 2018. Now that all polls have closed, let’s revisit the results to see where the BTB community stands. Here are the results from the offensive side of the ball, let’s chat about the defense now.
Did the Cowboys improve at defensive end?
BTB: 92% Yes (1,524 votes)
Analysis: Edge rushers used to be one of this team’s biggest problem areas and though it’s not perfect, the situation is much better than it has been in the past five years. DeMarcus Lawrence finally got himself healthy last season and it paid off to the tune of their first double-digit sack artist since 2013. Lawrence rushes primarily from the left end spot with Tyrone Crawford playing the right end. Now, Crawford isn’t the prototypical speed rusher you would want on that right side but he’s been a quality player for the Cowboys.
The Cowboys drafted Taco Charlton and Dorance Armstrong, adding some youth to the position. Kony Ealy was signed as a veteran insurance policy that gives them a good run defender and more juice in the rotation. There is still a pending reinstatement process going on with Randy Gregory that could provide even more depth. They are sitting in a crowded room at defensive end.
Did the Cowboys improve at defensive tackle?
BTB: 47% No (850 votes)
Analysis: Between David Irving’s suspension and Maliek Collins’ foot injury, it’s hard to feel great about the defensive tackle spot. The Cowboys do have a lot of inexperienced guys like Datone Jones or Jihad Ward that can make a jump but that uneasiness will likely stick around until we find out more about Collins. The Cowboys are not panicking about the situation because there’s no point when the open market doesn’t offer much comfort. This is very much an unsettled position for the time being until we find out more information during training camp.
Did the Cowboys improve at linebacker?
BTB: 86% Yes (1,915 votes)
Analysis: Linebacker was atop the list of offseason priorities for the Cowboys after they lost Anthony Hitchens in free agency. Similar to what they did at receiver, the Cowboys addressed the position in free agency and the draft. The organization feels great about where Jaylon Smith will be now more than two years removed from his horrific injury and completely free of his AFO brace. Sean Lee’s health is always somewhat of a concern but the Cowboys try and monitor him as best they can. They will at least be in better shape having drafted Leighton Vander Esch, who many pencil in as the starting middle linebacker from day one.
As far as depth is concerned, Joe Thomas was a nice pickup for them as he can play special teams. They drafted Chris Covington in the sixth round to also help them on special teams. Damien Wilson is still hanging around as a backup/role player when and where they need him. Overall, the linebacker position looks a lot better than it did in March. The Cowboys look to have a formidable crew manning all positions.
Did the Cowboys improve at cornerback?
BTB: 90% Yes (1,315 votes)
Analysis: The excitement around the cornerback position has much more to do with a coaching change than more talent added at the position. The Cowboys made their investment last season and saw some good returns in the department. The biggest change will be moving Byron Jones to man a cornerback spot. Jones will pair up with Chidobe Awuzie as the perimeter corners, giving the Cowboys some good length at the position. Jourdan Lewis will battle with Anthony Brown for the starting nickel corner position.
The Cowboys top four at the position are pretty solid but on the back end they have some young guys that can compete. Between Marquez White, Duke Thomas, and Charvarius Ward, Kris Richard has some players worth developing. The cornerback position is young but they are certainly capable of being a top flight unit.
Did the Cowboys improve at safety?
BTB: 52% No (615 votes)
Analysis: This is another position that doesn’t seem set yet. Folks are going to hold out hope for Earl Thomas until the 11th hour but it doesn’t look like much is happening on that front. The Cowboys remain confident in Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods being able to emerge as the starting pair. They also have Kavon Frazier on the roster who showed up last season in a limited role. Behind those guys, there are a few young undrafted guys that may be able to compete. Still, this position has always felt unsettled for the better part of this entire offseason.