Dallas Cowboys Training Camp: Top-5 position battles to watch in 2020

Amari Cooper #19 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)
Amari Cooper #19 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images) /
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Tyrone Crawford #98 of the Dallas Cowboys and Randy Gregory #94 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /

Dallas Cowboys Battle No. 2: Right Defensive End

Primary Competition: Tyrone Crawford, Aldon Smith, Randy Gregory

The right defensive end position is typically thought of as the primary pass-rushing platform of most 4-3 defensive fronts. Yet, the Dallas Cowboys are completely unsettled here and any number of outcomes could come to fruition.

The insurance policy here is veteran and team leader Tyrone Crawford. Much like Joe Looney at center, Craw offers the floor at the position. Multiple hip surgeries have put him on the decline and the underappreciated “swing lineman” is best used as an early down rotational piece.

Randy Gregory, currently suspended, has the best pure pass-rushing ceiling of the bunch. His bend around the edge is unrivaled and his counter-moves inside in the B gap are an underrated tool. Expected to be reinstated, Gregory should get the bulk of the passing downs, at the least.

Aldon Smith is the wild card in this since he hasn’t been regular starter in well over five years and has been away from the game entirely for four years. Last seen he was a beast but so much time has passed, who knows what we have in him here in 2020.

Making this extra unknown is Stephen Jones’ comments regarding possibly using Aldon Smith as a SAM/Designated Pass-Rusher. If the Dallas Cowboys get back Gregory, it’s possible they just use Smith as this moveable weapon and have him create havoc from his familiar 2-point stance.

Related Story. The tremendous hopes and expectations for Aldon Smith. light

Speaking of 2-point stance, the Cowboys are expected to mix in some 3-4 looks under Mike Nolan. While this sounds more significant than it really is, it changes roles and assignments at defensive end since defensives ends will need to 2-gap more often and pass rushers could come from either the D-Line or linebacker.

Then to a lesser degree we have Joe Jackson and Bradley Anae. If Dallas keeps Dorance Armstrong as the depth to DeMarcus Lawrence over on the left, Joe Jackson and Bradley Anae will be fighting for the last spot in the rotation on the right. It’s likely only one of them will make the cut and even that’s up in the air since the supremely talented Ron’Dell Carter could bump them both if given the opportunity.

Finding a suitable replacement to Robert Quinn at RDE is important since Quinn was Dallas’ top sack producer in 2019 and maintaining pressure in 2020 is going to be key given all the unknowns at cornerback. Speaking of CB…