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Cowboys News: The new look Dallas defense could open up the scheme options

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Here is the latest news surrounding the Dallas Cowboys.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Carolina Panthers Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

With additions of Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe, Cowboys’ D gains new look - Todd Archer, ESPN

The Cowboys new coaching staff is looking for football players, not specific position traits.

In the first two weeks of NFL free agency, the Cowboys agreed to a deal with Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe. McCoy is 6-4, 300 pounds. Poe is 6-3, 346 pounds.

They come to the Cowboys from the Carolina Panthers, who ran a 3-4 defensive scheme. Nolan has a deep background in the 3-4, including a one-year stint with the New York Jets when Parcells was their general manager.

But that doesn’t mean the Cowboys are moving to a 3-4. What it does mean is there could be some 3-4 principles that come into play with defensive tackles occupying two gaps instead of one to help the linebackers make more plays.

It also opens up the possibilities of not being too strict on traits for specific positions, which is one reason the Cowboys chose Taco Charlton over T.J. Watt in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft. While they knew Watt could rush the passer, they did not believe he could be an every-day defensive end. In this era of specialization, teams have to be willing to adapt.

Just having to roll with the times - Mickey Spagnola, DallasCowboys.com

The Cowboys draft visits and workouts are being affected by the coronavirus.

But teams will have to alter their preparation routine, since no more pro days, no more 30 visits or for the Cowboys their annual Dallas Day visits. Wonder if they’ve put a max on phone calls, sort of like college recruiting limits. These interactions in the scouting process seemingly are more valuable than the workouts against air. But as coaches like to say, game tape don’t lie. Maybe a more pure evaluation.

Plus, who knows how long we’re going to be sheltered in place, with the travel restrictions and facilities shut down and all. Because in 10 days, the Cowboys, with a new head coach, were scheduled to begin offseason interaction with players on April 6. That’s not going to happen. And if this persists, those May OTAs, rookie minicamps, and who knows, the full-team minicamps likely are in jeopardy, too.

Think about it: What bad timing for the Cowboys and the four other teams with new head coaches and coaching staffs – Giants, Redskins, Panthers, Browns – just the inability of the new staffs to not only interact with fellow staff members in person, but also with the players on these 90-man rosters, many of these coaches might never having even met yet.

Not to mention installations – offense, defense, special teams, and just getting an on-field assessment of the talent. As of now, so much for the possible worry of franchised Dak Prescott missing offseason workouts.

Cowboys Mock Draft: 3 Different Prospect Rankings, 3 Different Outcomes - Brian Martin, Inside The Star

Do the prospect rankings really change the outcome when the Cowboys draft needs are all the same?

Even though I used different prospect rankings from three different sources, you can clearly see the positions I was targeting for the Dallas Cowboys in this mock draft. I can honestly say I would be extremely happy if any one of these three mock drafts came true.

Let’s dive into this a little further so I can share with you why I chose each one of these players…

1st-round (17th overall)

CJ Henderson ranked 20th overall in Draft Network’s rankings and 18th overall in CBSSports’. He should challenge for a starting job from Day 1 and quite possibly be the Dallas Cowboys best CB as a rookie.

Zack Baun may be Matt Miller’s 31st overall in his rankings, but he was arguably the best player still available for the Dallas Cowboys in my opinion. He can play defensive end, linebacker, and be a core special-teams player. His value is his versatility.

Are the Dallas Cowboys still in need of defensive linemen? - Lucas Mascherin, The Landry Hat

There could be help on the way along the defensive line, and it comes from within.

The reason I ask that is there are two returning players who did not play (or barely played) last season. Defensive end Randy Gregory will likely return after filing for reinstatement, and defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford is returning after undergoing surgery on his hip.

The return of both linemen would give the Cowboys a much-needed boost. When adding their stats from the 2018 season, Dallas would “get back” 11.5 sacks and 59 tackles.

That’s not all too far off from what left the team this offseason. You can even say that it breaks even since Gregory’s stats came while playing only 45 percent of Dallas’ defensive snaps.

2020 NFL Power Rankings: 1-32 poll, plus where each team stands after free agency - ESPN

Where do the Cowboys rank after their moves in free agency?

11. Dallas Cowboys

Way-too-early ranking: 12

Three words: Hold that line. The Cowboys’ top goal was to keep quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper, and they did that with the exclusive franchise tag and a five-year contract, respectively. They have suffered some losses, such as Byron Jones, Randall Cobb, Robert Quinn and the retired Travis Frederick, but they knew they could not pay big money to everyone. They added Gerald McCoy and kept Sean Lee, Anthony Brown and Joe Looney — which takes on added significance after Frederick’s retirement — but are they better now than last season’s 8-8 finish? It’s difficult to say yes, but there is the draft to consider. — Todd Archer

What’s Up: Big Season Coming Up For Awuzie - Nick Eatman, DallasCowboys.com

Chido Awuzie is going to have to step up his game with Byron Jones gone.

What’s Been Good:

For a player that started his career in and out of the training room for the first few months, Awuzie has been a more consistent contributor, evident by his 16 games played this past season. He played in 15 games in 2018, after only 10 games as a rookie. He’s also been a capable performer, starting 30 of 32 games the past two seasons. He also had a rather rare highlight in Week 1 last season, chasing down Giants running back Saquon Barkley. Next Gen stats charted Awuzie running 22.8 mph across the field to contain Barkley, one of the fastest recorded time in recent history.

Questionable addition of Greg Zuerlein fills Cowboys’ need at kicker they didn’t actually have - Tim Cowlishaw, DMN

Not everyone is a fan of the Cowboys kicking moves.

Zuerlein has been injured at least three times the last five seasons, missing nine games. He missed five games with a groin injury in the club’s recent Super Bowl season but was healthy enough to make the big kicks in New Orleans to win the NFC Championship Game. A quad injury last year may have contributed to his being one of the least efficient kickers in the NFL.

In 2019, Zuerlein missed nine field goals including six from 40-to-49 yards where he was just 5-for-11. His 44-yard miss with 15 seconds to go in a 30-29 loss to Seattle was a huge blow for the Rams in October. If you think six missed kicks from that distance isn’t bad, well, Forbath for his career is 43-for-49 from that range.

Over the last two seasons, Zuerlein is 9-for-17 on 40-to-49 yard kicks. That’s far from dependable. That’s the kind of stuff that belatedly got Maher, who is as capable from 60 yards as Zuerlein or anyone else, run out of town.

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