The Cowboys offseason at defensive tackle has been a constant issue. It started off with Maliek Collins breaking his foot in offseason workouts, then followed by David Irving getting a four-game suspension and not reporting to camp. So far in training camp, there has yet to be a defensive tackle who has consistently stood out. We have seen flashes from Datone Jones, Antwaun Woods, Jihad Ward, and Brian Price, but are the Cowboys coaches getting a little antsy regarding the position>
Mike Fisher of 247Sports sent out a tweet on Monday night hinting at the Cowboys exploring trade options at defensive tackle. This tweet came out on the same day that Maliek Collins passed his physical and is set to start working back to practice for the Cowboys.
DT Maliek Collins is back. #Cowboys think he can play by Week 1. DT Antwaun Woods has been good; they think he's an NFL player. But a trade for a NT will likely be discussed by this front office.— mike fisher ✭ (@fishsports) August 14, 2018
The Cowboys could go a couple of different ways if they actually decided to make a trade. They could go for broke and try to bring in a starter, a real difference-maker. Or they could aim lower and just look for a rotational guy. Here are three names to keep an eye on that the Cowboys could make a run at. Granted, some would take a lot of trade capital and fundamentally change the depth chart at the position, but maybe the Cowboys are truly ready to shake things up.
High tier: Michael Brockers - Los Angeles Rams - 6’5” 310-lbs
Although, I’m sure Cowboys fans would have liked to see another Rams defensive lineman’s name on this list, Aaron Donald will not be getting traded. Multiple sources have said that the All Pro lineman will be signing a record-breaking contract here very soon. But when looking for potential trade suitors, a great place to start is with teams who have a surplus of defensive lineman. The Rams currently have a ton of talent and money allocated to their defensive line. With Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, Ethan Westbrooks, Tanzel Smart, and Dominique Easley all playing different spots on the defensive line, Michael Brockers could become available for the right price.
But, we admit, that price might be a little more than Stephen Jones would like to pay. This would be a move that would totally shake up the Cowboys depth chart at defensive tackle and may be a little more than what Fisher was hinting at in his tweet. So maybe we are dreaming a bit. Still, the price tag would be warranted. The 27-year old defensive lineman has stayed healthy for his entire career, and has performed well for the Rams.
Brockers is entering his seventh-year in the league and has been a very good player for the Rams. Brockers is owed $11 million dollars this year, and with all the money the Rams have given to Suh, Gurley, Cooks, and possibly Donald, getting Brockers off of their books may drive the asking price down just a bit. Brockers has played both defensive end and defensive tackle for the Rams, but would be a ideal fit for the Cowboys on the interior where he can show off his great get off and explosiveness. Let it be known, that the Cowboys have been interested in Michael Brockers before, so why not again?
Hearing that Rams DT Michael Brockers wants a long-term deal, could get moved. Multiple teams possibly involved, Lions, Cowboys, Texans.— Scott Bischoff (@Bischoff_Scott) April 28, 2015
Middle tier: Austin Johnson - Tennessee Titans - 6’4” 315-lbs
Austin Johnson was a hot commodity coming out of Penn State in the 2016 NFL Draft. Johnson, a massive 6’4”, 315-lbs, fits the Cowboys interior defensive line prototype to a “T”. The Cowboys have shown in recent years that they don’t value the 1-technique position, but will do so if the player has 3-technique traits. Johnson has both, and would be a great addition to the interior of the defensive line.
Austin Johnson was a second-round pick, and the 43rd overall player in the 2016 draft. The Cowboys were linked to linking Johnson coming out of Penn State, but ended up drafting Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith at the top of the second round. The Cowboys coaching staff got an up close and personal look at Johnson coaching him in the Reese’s Senior Bowl, and liked what they saw in their time with him. Johnson is currently the backup nose tackle in Tennessee playing behind Bennie Logan. Johnson fits the mold as a Marnelli guy, and has yet to blossom into the player Tennessee thought they were getting when they drafted him in 2016.
Low tier: Carl Davis - Baltimore Ravens - 6’5” 320-lbs
Carl Davis would be going against the grain due to his lack of versatility, but would be a good player to explore. Davis is a massive human being, who is known for being a run stuffer in the middle of the defensive line. Unlike the other two players listed above, Davis would not bring any traits to the table as a 3-technique, but would bring all the tools as a run stuffing 1-technique. Davis has gotten lost in the shuffle of the talented Ravens defensive line, and will be a free agent at the end of the season. At 26-years-old, Davis is still a relatively young player and has a very team friendly contract.
The former third-round pick has been a good rotational player for the Ravens since being drafted in the 2015 draft. Davis plays with a tremendous amount of strength and power in both his upper and lower half, and can be player that disrupts the backfield a ton throughout a game. The Cowboys were also linked to Davis in the 2015 draft, and had him in as a pre-draft visitor. If the Cowboys are interested in trading for someone to be a primary nose tackle, Davis is the man for the job, and likely wouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg.
So Carl Davis is visiting Cowboys— Patrick Conn (@DraftCowboys) April 21, 2015
The fact the Cowboys are potentially exploring trading for a defensive tackles can mean a few things. Either the Cowboys are going to be moving Maliek Collins back to 3-technique, Jihad Ward has been a disappointment in training camp, or the Cowboys don’t have a good feeling about David Irving’s off the field situation, and need to add talent to the position to get through the whole season. Even with Datone Jones, Antwaun Woods playing well, and Maliek Collins coming off of PUP, the Cowboys may still have worries about the position. We will have to see if the Cowboys do may make a move, whether they are just looking to add a camp body, or a player who can compete for a starting job, you can make the case they may need both.