The Dallas Cowboys had an incredibly talented team in the 2022 season. They had seven Pro Bowlers, and won 12 games. Unfortunately, the team suffered a familiar fate of losing a close game in the divisional round of the playoffs. Many fans felt like that roster could have made a deeper playoff run. With several of those players due to hit free agency in the offseason, fans felt like the team was inevitably going to be taking a step down in talent.
Instead, not only were the Cowboys able to bring back LB Leighton Vander Esch, S Donovan Wilson, DT Jonathan Hankins, DE Dante Fowler, RB Tony Pollard, RT Terence Steele, and backup QB Cooper Rush on favorable contracts, but they added significant talent from outside their organization as well. The Cowboys went against their reputation of having a quiet offseason by trading for All-Pro CB Stephon Gilmore and speedy WR Brandin Cooks. They also added defensive talent early in the 2023 NFL draft in Michigan DT Mazi Smith and Texas LB DeMarvion Overshown. ]
The Cowboys front office have put them in a prime position to succeed in the 2023 NFL season. They were able to add even more talent to a talented roster, and brought back defensive coordinator Dan Quinn which felt improbable. These are the three strongest position groups currently on the Cowboys.
The Cowboys have arguably the deepest and most dangerous defensive lines across the entire NFL. They have been near the top of the NFL in sacks each year under Dan Quinn as defensive coordinator. With EDGE Micah Parsons, DE DeMarcus Lawrence, DE Dorance Armstrong, DE Sam Williams, and DE Dante Fowler coming off the edge, it doesn’t matter who is currently on the field, someone should be able to get some pressure on the opposing quarterback.
While the Cowboys have been incredible at getting pressure on the quarterback since Quinn took over as coordinator, they have been less impactful at stopping the run. That is why the team spent their first-round pick on Michigan DT Mazi Smith. Smith, the 6’3” 320+ lb. defensive tackle caused havoc in the middle of the line for the Wolverines throughout his college career.
Mazi Smith 2022 Stats— Mike Poland (@kenfigkowboy) April 28, 2023
(ranking among DT)
48 TKL (6th most)
24 Def Stops (4th most)
13.1% Run Stop Percentage (3rd most)
0 Penalties (1st most)
[NOTE: 0 Penalties in all 4 years at Michigan]#DallasCowboys #CowboysDraft #cowboys #CowboysNation pic.twitter.com/Rz7VDJafdV
With Smith pushing the middle, there should be even more opportunities for the rest of the defensive line to capitalize and make a play. DT’s Jonathan Hankins and Osa Odighizuwa also are impactful defensive tackles for the team.
It is hard to remember a time that the Dallas Cowboys would have been praised for their cornerback room. The cornerback position plagued the Cowboys through several of their successful regular seasons. However, the team has one of the strongest cornerback rooms in the league heading into the season.
CB Trevon Diggs’ numbers and tape speak for themselves. Diggs is undoubtedly the best ball-hawk in the league, with an incredible knack at coming down with tough interceptions. He also is great in zone coverage, using his athleticism and length to make a play on the ball.
The Cowboys were able to add CB Stephon Gilmore this offseason, creating the best corner duo across the league. Gilmore is the perfect player to pair next to Diggs because he excels at the things Diggs can sometimes struggle in. Gilmore is incredible at man coverage, and is very disciplined in coverage, committing few mistakes that hurt the team. Having the former Defensive Player of the Year across from him should not only allow Diggs more opportunities to get interceptions, it offers valuable mentorship that Diggs has yet to receive in his young career.
With such a talented CB1 and CB2 it is easy to forget about the rest of the cornerback room. However, we should not forget about CB DaRon Bland who led the team in interceptions in his rookie season last year with five. The team also currently has veteran CB Jourdan Lewis, who has been a competent starter in several seasons for Dallas.
The Dallas Cowboys surprised many this offseason when they were able to bring back S Donovan Wilson on a three-year, $21 million contract with the team. The talented safety is able to fill up the stat sheet on the football field. In 2022 he had 101 tackles, seven tackles for loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and one interception.
Bringing back Wilson keeps the three-headed monster at the safety position in Dallas. Safeties Jayron Kearse and Malik Hooker have also both been incredibly efficient and impactful for the Cowboys defense under Dan Quinn. It is hard to think of a defense across the NFL with three safeties as good as Wilson, Kearse, and Hooker. The team also saw some potential from Israel Mukuamu at the safety position at the end of the 2022 regular season.
Best safety Trio in the NFL pic.twitter.com/nrwrxEafuG— SSN - Dallas Cowboys (@SSN_Cowboys) March 14, 2023
The Dallas Cowboys are filled with talent all across their roster. Their defense is incredibly deep with veteran and young talent who can contribute week one. It is imperative that the coaching staff can take advantage of it, and finally reach a place the team hasn’t managed to reach in quite a long time, the Super Bowl.