The Dallas Cowboys believe they can compete for a playoff spot in 2014. While Dallas has made some moves to make their team better in certain areas, question marks remain up and down their roster. In order to answer some of these questions, I have been breaking down the Cowboys’ roster position by position. I have finished with the offense and it’s time to move on to the defensive side of the ball. Today I’ll begin by examining the defensive line.
The Cowboys were bad in every area of the defense last season, but perhaps the worst element of the defense was the defensive line. Dallas failed to get pressure on the opposing quarterbacks with any consistency. Being better in 2014 could be difficult due to the fact that Dallas lost two key pieces of their defensive line in DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher.
So what players will Dallas be relying on in 2014? The biggest addition to Dallas’ defensive line is Henry Melton. Melton will be one of the Cowboys’ starting defensive tackles, and Dallas hopes he can be the force in the middle of their line.
The other starting defensive tackle position is up for grabs and likely will not be decided until the end of training camp. Nick Hayden and free agent signing Terrell McClain will likely be the top two candidates to win the job. Hayden performed well for Dallas in the second half of last season, and I believe he has a slight advantage heading into training camp.
In order to be a better defensively Dallas must find a way to get pressure from the defensive end positions, and the Cowboys have a slew of new faces to choose from. One of the starters will likely be George Selvie. With his 45 tackles and seven sacks, Selvie was arguably the second most productive linemen on the Cowboys in 2013 behind Hatcher.
The other DE position will be a competition between a couple of different players. Dallas re-signed Anthony Spencer, but he is coming off an injury and will likely miss the first six games of the season. Another player coming off injury is Tyrone Crawford. Unlike Spencer though, Crawford is expected to be ready for training camp and could win the starting DE job. The two other DE candidates are free agent singing Jeremy Mincey and rookie Demarcus Lawrence. Both should contribute whether they are starters or backups.
The questions along the Cowboys’ defensive line are numerous. Can the new faces make an immediate impact? Can the injured players return to their Pro Bowl form? I believe the success of the defensive line will depend on how much defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli can get out of them.