The Dallas Cowboys enter the offseason with a few different needs to address that can take this team to the next level. Another wide receiver to complement Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup has the potential to open up this offense, an upgrade at tight end could give Dak Prescott a threat in the middle of the field and down the seam, and it is no secret that the Cowboys would love to get better at the safety position next to Xavier Woods.
Then, there is defensive tackle. After the performance against the Rams, combined with the likely parting of ways with David Irving, look for Dallas to address the interior of the defensive line this offseason as well.
Without having a first-round draft pick, as well as having to figure out deals for DeMarcus Lawrence and potentially Dak Prescott and Byron Jones, the Cowboys will have to find different avenues to fill the different needs across the roster.
Here are three defensive tackle prospects that the Cowboys can target in April.
Renell Wren — 6-foot-4, 295
Renell Wren is a player that has been mocked to the Dallas Cowboys by more than one outlet and draft analyst. The athletic, yet raw, interior defender has fallen a little bit under the radar in a loaded defensive line draft class; however, Wren has the upside to be a quality player at the next level.
Dane Brugler’s 10th ranked defensive tackle in the class is coming off his best collegiate season, in which Wren made 53 total tackles, 4.5 TFLs, and a sack. Here is some of what Brugler wrote on the Arizona State defender:
Overall, Wren is incredibly raw from a technical standpoint, but he has the snap quickness, strength and effort to develop into a disruptive NFL player on the interior, projecting as a pure upside pick.
Wren’s first step and explosiveness makes him an intriguing prospect in this draft. Here is a glimpse of what Wren is capable of doing to offensive linemen:
Renell Wren (#95, lined up at NT) explodes off the snap, causing the center to whiff and fall down. The LG, RG, and TE all get tangled up with him, leading to an easy TFL for #ASU. Wren affects four blockers in one play. pic.twitter.com/CSpq7tf3sE— Fed Scivittaro (@MeshPointScout) February 20, 2019
Wren does struggle with hand placement, among other aspects of his game, but he is a player that is just scratching the surface of his potential. Garrett Bradburry is widely considered one of the top interior offensive linemen in the draft, and the Arizona State defender used his strength against the N.C. State center in this clip below:
ASU DT Renell Wren vs. NCST OC Garrett Bradbury— Gavino Borquez (@GavinoBorquez) January 23, 2019
Wren’s sheer force from his bull rush is too much for Bradbury to get inside hand placement. pic.twitter.com/ZRrkWcN9vx
Which ever team selects Wren in this draft must be comfortable with taking a project that may need some time. Wren is a player that is capable of going in the first two rounds, but he certainly has some refining to do. Nonetheless, Wren’s upside and explosiveness makes him an intriguing prospect for the Cowboys to grab at 58.
DreMont Jones — 6-foot-2, 295
Dre’Mont Jones is a prospect that we covered at BTB a little bit last season. Many expected the Ohio State star to declare early and enter the 2018 NFL Draft, but he opted to return to play another season for the Buckeyes.
Jones, like his first two seasons in Columbus, had a productive season on the field, tormenting Big Ten offenses week-in and week-out. Jones recorded 43 tackles. 13 TFLs, and even got to the quarterback 8.5 times. Brugler’s fifth-ranked defensive tackle prospect began his career out at end, but has transitioned nicely inside.
A three-year starter at Ohio State, Jones moved from defensive end to under-tackle in Ohio State’s four-man front, setting career bests as a junior. He took a sizable step in his development in 2018, expanding his pass rush moves and improving his recognition skills. Jones displays the first step quickness to make himself skinny through gaps and the lateral quickness that makes him near immune to reach blocks. While he has high upside as a pass rusher, he tends to abandon his base in the run game and lacks the power to recover, allowing blockers to bully him from his spot. Overall, Jones must improve his run fits and play strength to be reliable on early downs, but his slippery athleticism and ability to manipulate space make him a pest for blockers, projecting best in an aggressive front to slant and shoot gaps.
The Ohio State defender’s best trait is his athleticism. Like mentioned above, Jones began his career at end, so he is naturally more athletic than some of his peers in the interior of the defensive line. He is often too quick for opposing lineman to block him, and he has proven time and time again that he can get into the backfield — backed up with his 22 career tackles-for-loss and 9.5 sacks.
Ohio State DI Dre'Mont Jones (@TheOfficial_80) is special. He can win quick off the snap and always works to win with violent, quick hands. I love his hand use off the snap.— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) February 21, 2019
Here's a thread of some of his best pass-rush wins in 2018, starting with this beauty against Nebraska. pic.twitter.com/UMH9H3Yn16
Jones is a prospect that could very well be off the board by the time the Cowboys finally come on the clock on night two, but if he happens to be there, he is a prospect that worth consideration. While the former Buckeye struggles to defend the run, Jones possesses enough pass rushing traits to make him an intriguing prospect to put next to Maliek Collins and company.
Jerry Tillery — 6-foot-6, 310
The Cowboys are (likely) moving on from one big, freakish interior defender, so why not grab another in the draft as a replacement? Enter Notre Dame’s Jerry Tillery. Tillery, listed at 6-foot-6 and over 300 pounds is one of the better interior defensive linemen in this draft class.
Not only does Tillery possess ridiculous size, but he has the athleticism to go along with it. Tillery moves well for a man his size, displaying impressive lateral quickness and pursuit. The Notre Dame lineman used a big 2018 season to raise his draft stock, making 8.5 TFLs and a career-high seven sacks this past season. His size and lengthy arms gives him an advantage over many of the offensive linemen that he lines up against.
Jerry Tillery is a menace. Puts the RG on skates with the long arm pic.twitter.com/9sMvGCW2QY— Ty Wurth (@WurthDraft) February 6, 2019
Tillery, though, does come with some concerns. The former Irish defender has been labeled as a dirty player for instances throughout his career in South Bend — such as stomping a USC offensive lineman after the play in 2016 and a questionable late hit on Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence during the CFB Playoffs this past year.
Aside from that, Tillery is an interesting prospect that could make an impact in the NFL as quickly as his first season. His unique combination of size, length, athleticism, and ability to create havoc behind the line of scrimmage is a rare blend that multiple teams will covet come April. With David Irving out the door, Tillery is someone Dallas can take and expect production out of in the middle of the defense.
Jerry Tillery (#99) - not your typical QB spy at 6'7, 300+ lbs but that's pretty impressive pic.twitter.com/z2kAaodar8— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) January 27, 2019
Who would be your pick out of these three defensive lineman?