Dallas Cowboys: 3 Steps to Rebuilding the Interior Defensive Line

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 15: Maliek Collins #96 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 15: Maliek Collins #96 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /
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FOXBORO, MA – JANUARY 22: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots is sacked by Javon Hargrave #79 (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

Step 2: Sign a Premier Free Agent

D.J. Reader or Javon Hargrave

As explained in the intro, the Dallas Cowboys need to add a defensive tackle in free agency since rookie DTs rarely work out right away (if at all). Investing in a well-rounded proven veteran isn’t just the smart thing to do, it’s the necessary thing to do.

Normally, it’s not wise to break the bank on a big run-stuffer. The value just isn’t there. But the 330lb D.J. Reader is not your normal run-stuffer. He had 36 pressures last season in Houston and can reliably push the pocket from inside.

Reader’s 3.7 missed tackle percentage is something to behold (as per Pro Football Reference) and can be a 3-down linemen in 3-man fronts as well as 4-man fronts (Something Mike Nolan will likely alternate between).

Javon Hargrave is another elite interior linemen hitting the market this season. Because of limited cap space, Pittsburgh is unlikely to re-sign him. That puts the do-it-all NT on the market for Dallas. Hargrave can play inside on a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense. Pro Football Focus rated him 8th in the NFL last season and his 15.1 percent pressure rate was tops in the league (49 total pressures).

But for as good as he is at applying pressure, he’s even better against the run. He plays with effort, short area quickness, and strong technique. The icing on the cake is his durability. Hargrave has only missed one game in his entire career. Think about that for a second. Think about having an elite and reliable defensive tackle can do for defense like Dallas’

After watching some all-22 from last season, Javon Hargrave would be at the top of my list but Reader would be immediately behind. If Dallas signs one of these two fellas, they won’t feel obligated to reach on a long-shot in the draft.