We found out on Thursday that the Dallas Cowboys will officially hold their first practice of training camp out in Oxnard, California on July 27th. For so long the crowds out in Oxnard have ooh’d and ahh’d when the offensive line held their slow trot out to the practice field. While we are not here to disparage the o-line in any way, they are hardly the group that commanded the awe that the ones of the past did.
In fact an argument can be made that it is the other side of the trenches on this team that boasts the more overall talent. Obviously Tyron Smith and Zack Martin are still highly impressive, but if you are only as strong as your weakest link then the defensive line might have the advantage over the offensive.
The Dallas Cowboys have a sneaky bit of depth at defensive end
As we start to calibrate our expectations for the Dallas Cowboys this season, understanding what the team has at defensive end involves some thought. Losing Randy Gregory over the offseason is undoubtedly a real thing, but there remains a strong bit of depth for the rotation. With DeMarcus Lawrence headlining things and a lottery ticket of sorts waiting in the wings in Sam Williams, you could certainly do a lot worse.
In looking at this team’s “defensive ends” you miss the group’s best player in Micah Parsons. His presence is what truly changes things in an amazing way. But even without Parsons the Cowboys have a lot of pieces to work with. As noted Tank is a well-established leader and will make sure to fortify things against the run, but a combination of Dorance Armstrong, Dante Fowler Jr., and Carlos Watkins helping him out is hardly a bad one.
It is Dorance Armstrong who is expected to carry most of the weight that Randy Gregory leaves behind, but a fair bit of Cowboys fans are anticipating a bit of a career resurgence from Fowler given his relationship with defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. That feels a bit too optimistic for some, but it is certainly worth mentioning that the Cowboys have been proven right on a few different defensive ends that they believed in like Robert Quinn three years ago and Randy Gregory of different years past.
Sam Williams truly does represent the ability for this defense to change stratospheres, though. It was once thought that rookie defensive ends had difficulty making an impact until Micah Parsons changed the game and our expectations for things a bit.
None of this is to say that Williams can come in and have a Parsons-like impact, but if he is the player who Dan Quinn believed in throughout the pre-draft process then all told the defensive ends on this team will be just fine.
We broke down the state of the defensive end position as training camp approaches in the latest video over on the Blogging The Boys YouTube Channel. More positions will follow as camp gets closer so make sure to subscribe to our channel (which you can do right here) so you don’t miss any of them!