It took up until almost the end of the first week of free agency, but the Dallas Cowboys finally signed themselves an outside player. The team helped strengthen the defensive tackle position by acquiring former Houston Texans player Christian Covington. A sixth-round pick in 2015, Covington played out his rookie deal in Houston as a rotational player along the defensive line. Last season with the Texans, he played in 12 games and only had 15 tackles, but he had 3.5 sacks and eight quarterback hits according to Pro Football Reference.
It’s not an impressive stat sheet by any means, but Covington has shown a lot of improvement last season and he’s trending up. He’s been stuck behind some good players and at 25 years old, he offers his new team a lot of upside. At 6’2” and 310 pounds, Covington has great size to get to ball carriers. He’s a powerful player and his strength has made him a strong run defender. He’s built a reputation for his run-stopping abilities, but recently has shown flashes of pass rushing. This uptick in performance could be a reason why Covington’s name can be found pretty high in the rankings when it comes to free agent interior linemen. He made Pro Football Focus’ list of top 10 list:
The former sixth rounder has only played 1,115 snaps over his four seasons, either due to strictly being a rotational piece or because of injuries.
Surrounded by the likes of J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, Covington had opportunities to take advantage of many one-on-ones, and he has demonstrated the ability to do in his relatively small sample size, earning a pass-rush productivity of 8.1 in 2018, 19th-best among defensive tackles in 2018. The 25-year-old could be a prime candidate for a breakout in 2019 with the right fit and opportunity.
Covington also comes in seventh in the rankings on WalterFootball, ahead of Malik Jackson who just signed a three-year, $30 million deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. Covington is given three and a half stars which puts him in the same tier as Timmy Jernigan, Muhammad Wilkerson, Darius Philon, and David Irving. That’s some good company. The rest of those guys are either old, expensive, or have quit football to smoke the wacky tobacky.
Christian Covington is one of the top run-stuffing defensive linemen in the NFL. His pass-rushing skills need work, but he won’t turn 26 until October, so he has plenty of time to develop moves to get to the quarterback.
The Cowboys get Covington for super cheap as his one-year deal has built in incentives should he earn some extra playing time this upcoming season.
A breakdown of Christian Covington’s one-year deal with the Cowboys:— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) March 14, 2019
Signing bonus: $500,000
Base salary: $1 million
46-man roster bonuses: $250,000
Cap number: $1.6875 million
55 percent play-time: $125,000
65 percent play-time: $250,000
75 percent... https://t.co/Jfoq6dk3jh
This signing seemed all too familiar, as if I was experiencing deja vu...
6'2" 300+ big bodied run stopper— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) March 14, 2019
25 years old
Rotational player from the Texans
Where have I seen this before? Oh yeah, I remember...I loved the signing when it was Terrell McClain and I love it now with Christian Covington. pic.twitter.com/5WzqVZy88j
In 2014, the Cowboys signed McClain to a three-year, $3 million deal. Nobody gave that signing much attention and why would they? Despite being a third-round pick in 2011, McClain hadn’t amounted to anything. He only saw 176 snaps across 16 games in his final year with the Texans. But the Cowboys saw potential and brought him aboard. While he had some injury issues early, McClain was actually one of the team’s best defensive players during the 2016 season. He had a huge hit/forced fumble on Wendall Smallwood that helped spark a fourth quarter comeback against the Eagles.
After surrendering 273 rushing yards in their 30-22 defeat to the Los Angeles Rams, it was clear the Cowboys have issues in the middle of the defensive line. Antwaun Woods is a solid player, but the team needs to get stronger. Now, there will be some good competition to help shore up the position. Covington is able to constantly get leverage and at his size, he’s not easy to move. Strength and technique has made him a formidable run-stopper, but he continues to improve as a pass rusher as well.
Jack Conklin getting pushed around by star edge rusher Christian Covington. pic.twitter.com/EhxmdvWmdK— Rivers McCown (@riversmccown) November 27, 2018
In Houston, Covington was the sacrificial lamb. He absorbed blocks while J.J. Watt, Jadaveon Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus were free to roam along the defensive line wreaking havoc. It was a good strategy as those guys had almost 30 sacks between them. The Cowboys would love to have someone who can hold their own so their own arsenal of pass rushers can get into the backfield. Don’t let the price fool you. Covington could be a sneaky-good pick for a defense that needs help at defensive tackle.