Dallas Cowboys Looking for Specific Type of DT


Not all defensive tackles are created equal in the NFL. Here’s a look at what the Dallas Cowboys are and are not looking for in a DT early in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Few will question the Dallas Cowboys have many needs in the upcoming NFL draft. From the secondary, to the linebacking corps, all the way up front to the defensive line, the Cowboys have needs. Many mock drafts are speculating the Cowboys will choose a defensive tackle in the drafts’ first round. Such a prediction has merit, as long as the DT fits the right profile…

The Dallas Cowboys defense, led by Rod Marinelli, is always in the market for linemen (aka rushmen). If there was one glaring weakness to the 2014 Dallas Cowboys, it’s that there weren’t enough pressure players on the defensive line. But “pressure” is the operative word and not all DTs are considered “pressure” players.

As we’ve addressed many times before, Rod Marinelli uses two types of DTs in his defense: The 3-technique DT and the 1-technique DT. One of those Marinelli values highly, and the other one he does not. This is important to keep in mind because many mock drafts are mocking the wrong type of DT to the Dallas Cowboys.

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The 3 tech DT is an inside linemen who lines up on the outside shoulder of the offensive guard. He is often asked to play a penetrating role that makes plays in the backfield. An ideal 3 tech DT would have strength to hold up against the run, and quickness to beat the block in the gap. This is a role Tyrone Crawford did well in last season and Jason Hatcher the year before. Rod Marinelli places a premium on this position.

The 1 tech DT is a completely other story. The 1 Technique defensive tackle in Marinelli’s defense is largely responsible for taking on 2 blockers, the center and the guard. With 5 offensive linemen and 4 defensive linemen, someone has to get double-teamed, right?

Instead letting the offense decide who they want to double-team, the 1 technique makes the decision for them by attacking the A-Gap located between the center and the guard. He forces contact and keeps the center and guard from shedding him and blocking a LB at the next level.

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The job the 1 tech does is very important, but the player who plays the 1 tech, isn’t. Rod Marinelli likes to invest resources elsewhere and feels he can find low-investment/low-cost players to fill the 1 tech role. Using an early round pick on a 1 technique player is out of the question.

He proved as much when as defensive line coach, he rejected the idea of drafting Sharrif Floyd with a first round pick. It wasn’t a good investment to him and he would have rather seen the pick used elsewhere (even on offense), than to waste the pick on him. Have you ever heard of a position coach decline adding good player? He did. If Marinelli has done that as a position coach, imagine what he will do as a defensive coordinator.

The Cowboys will not use a high draft pick on a 1 Tech DT in this upcoming draft. It’s as simple as that. No matter how underwhelming Nick Hayden may be, Marinelli is just fine going into camp with Hayden, Terrell McClain, Josh Brent, and Ken Bishop duking it out.

If a DT has versatility to play a 3-tech, that’s a different story, but a true 1 tech just ain’t gonna happen.

Next: Defensive Line Techniques Explained