With NFL free agency in full swing, there have been a lot of moving parts around the league with many familiar faces in new places. Speaking of familiar faces in new places, the Dallas Cowboys have been very active in this area. The team has brought in five new players at this moment, headlined by wide receiver Brandin Cooks, and cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
Both Cooks, and Gilmore were acquired via trade where in total Dallas gave up two fifth-rounders this year, along with a sixth-round pick in 2024. Running back Ronald Jones, offensive lineman Chuma Edoga, and long snapper Trent Sieg were the other three additions by the franchise so far. Of all of the acquisitions made this off-season to date, only Brandin Cooks has a contract into the 2024 campaign which means the team could decide to move on from the other players without any strings attached after this upcoming season.
How the Cowboys front office is operating this off-season has been much different in comparison to years prior, which has been a pleasant surprise. With the franchise being much more active these days in filling needs, and trying to improve their chances at making a run at the Lombardi Trophy, there is still much left to do in order to achieve this goal. At the stage, the team could be shifting gears by really focusing in on the upcoming draft this April; however before we get to draft time, there are two more players that Dallas could target to fill current needs and also give the Cowboys more flexibility as to who they will draft as well as when.
Here are two veterans that the front office should target prior to the NFL Draft.
Poona Ford, DT
Currently, the interior of the Cowboys defensive line features Neville Gallimore, Osa Odighizuwa, Chauncey Gholston, Quinton Bohanna, and offensive lineman turned defensive tackle Isaac Alarcón. Johnathan Hankins, who was acquired in October of last year for a 2023 sixth-rounder, is currently a free agent and seems to be in no rush to sign a new deal with the Cowboys or any other NFL at this time.
From a statistical perspective, Dallas ranked 22nd in rushing yardage allowed per game. This was a major weakness in an otherwise solid defensive unit. With who is currently rostered, a move to improve the interior of the defensive line is an obvious need that has yet been addressed.
This is where former Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Poona Ford comes into play. Ford who played his college ball in The Lone Star State at the University of Texas and wound up going undrafted in 2018. This happened not because of his lack of ability but because he was deemed to be undersized for the interior of the defensive line. Fast forward five seasons and you will see an above average defensive tackle who over the last three years led the Seahawks in quarterback pressures. It is a tad surprising to see someone with his talent and being only 27 years old still available on the market currently. This is subject to change in a hurry as multiple suitors for his services are reportedly sniffing around.
If the Cowboys want to have any chance in bringing him in then they may need to swoop in fast before another team scoops him up. Ford’s unique build along with his proven abilities as an NFL player, would make for a welcome addition to the interior of the defensive line.
Kyle Rudolph, TE
As Dalton Schultz departs to the Houston Texans, the tight end room for the Cowboys as currently constructed is lacking a veteran presence. The top 3 players on the depth chart right now are Jake Ferguson, Peyton Hendershot, and Sean McKeon.
The average age of the three is just 24 years old, with Sean McKeon being the oldest at only 25. Although the experience isn’t quite there yet, the front office has seen enough from them to move on from one of the better tight ends in the league today as Schultz moves on from Dallas. Given the youth and inexperience movement among the tight end group, there seems to be a need at the position and that is in the experience department.
That experience void could be filled by 12 year veteran, Kyle Rudolph. Sure, things did not go as planned for him in 2022 with the Buccaneers but that doesn’t diminish the type of career that he has had. Rudolph has two Pro Bowl’s to his credit and has caught nearly 500 passes since entering the league as a second-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. His days as a starter are probably over, but he still has plenty of ability to stick on the roster as a third tight end and to help guide the young Cowboys tight ends into the future.
If Dallas wants to do some bargain shopping in free agency like we are accustomed to them doing, then Kyle Rudolph could be just the right solution to lack of tight end experience that the team is currently facing.