The Dallas Cowboys have concluded their mandatory minicamp. Over the three-day team activity, we learned how the team is merging concepts from their existing offense with some of the West Coast offense, aptly named the “Texas Coast.” Quarterback Dak Prescott has drawn praise from new receiver Brandin Cooks, and head coach Mike McCarthy’s return to calling plays has brought an “edge” back to the offense.
Implementing new concepts and new principles is what the offseason is about. Strategizing the best way to put your players in a position to be the most successful when the regular season begins. A person who can personally speak to that new experience and team experimentation in the offseason is converted interior defensive lineman Isaac Alarcon.
Alarcon joined the Cowboys through the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program (IPPP) in 2020. The IPPP is an initiative started by the NFL to broaden its borders in hopes of attracting NFL talent outside of the United States and Canada. The IPPP allows the NFL to give those who didn’t play collegiate football in the US a better chance to chase their dream of playing pro football while attracting a more diverse fanbase globally. The idea of expanding the NFL’s talent pool has taken many forms over the years, with NFL Europe being the most known. Yet, what is less common is that Cowboys defensive line coach Arden Durde once spearheaded a variation of the initiative, known as NFL Undiscovered.
Born in Monterey, Mexico, Alarcon has taken an alternative path to get to the NFL, but he does have a unique amateur background. Unlike some who participate in the IPPP program, Alarcon had some organized football experience, landing a football scholarship collegiately at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education in Mexico before winning the Mexican college football national championship in 2019. Alarcon also competed in the 2016 IFAF U-19 World Championship and earned a bronze medal.
Since joining the Cowboys, he has yet to make the 53-man roster, spending each of his three seasons on the practice squad playing offensive tackle. This year he hopes for a different result, and it will be for a particular reason. Earlier in the offseason, the team announced that Alarcon would transition from offensive tackle to interior defensive lineman.
Anytime a player changes positions it is a bold move with risk attached that could make or shatter a dream. However, Alarcon, working alongside Durde and Dan Quinn with the latter having a proven record of excellence in coaching defensive linemen, are the best candidates to get the most out of the fourth-year hopeful. Early returns have been positive, and Alarcon was praised by head coach Mike McCarthy for his progress during the transition in acclimating to the change.
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy on DT Isaac Alarcón, who made offseason switch from O-line: “He looks good inside. I’m excited to see him in padded work. It almost looks more natural for him on defense. …He’s built an outstanding foundation.” pic.twitter.com/FMJ8CqdCPC— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) June 8, 2023
Alarcon has tremendous size and excellent work habits. Listed at 6’7”, 320 lbs., he has a lot of natural potential to work with and has taken the initiative to get some pointers from fellow defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa, working with him 1-on-1 in padless sessions to teach him some pass rush techniques.
It’s yet to be determined if the intention is to play Alarcon at the 1-tech defensive tackle or under tackle. With his size though, think of the possibilities. The last time the Cowboys had an interior player that size was David Irvin, who could disrupt passing lanes with his tremendous wingspan.
If Alrcon can, at the very least, disrupt passing lanes or be strong enough to hold the middle of the interior, occupying two gaps, it’ll go a long way toward making the Cowboys’ roster. Plus, his added knowledge of the offensive line offers him a good perspective on his new position.
For now, he’s taking it all in stride, saying in a recent interview with dallascowboys.com:
“It’s definitely more fun chasing the quarterback”