Dallas Cowboys: The NFL Draft can’t fix defensive tackle woes

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dallas Cowboys need to fix the middle of their defensive line but the NFL Draft might not be the best way to do it.

Generally speaking, successful NFL teams are built through the NFL Draft. Look around at the best franchises in the league and you’ll see they are built on homegrown talent, not free agent acquisitions. And as critical as we are towards our beloved Cowboys these days, the Dallas Cowboys are among the best in the league at building through the draft.

The Dallas Cowboys have been but bit players in free agency over the past decade. They’d rather sit back and fish for bargains than hunt for the big fish. They look for value in free agency and prefer the NFL Draft for those big course-setting swings.

But if ever there was a year to deviate from this widely accepted strategy, this offseason is probably the year. Because this year, the draft isn’t going to offer immediate help at DT in 2021.  They’re going to need a established player to help.

Defensive tackle is a tough position to draft. Not only is the bust rate high, but the time to contribute is also high. Rarely do rookie DTs make much of an impact in Year 1 – let alone get snaps as a starter. And in the 2021 NFL Draft that appears especially sparse at the DT position, the chance to find an immediate impact DT gets even slimmer.

While we’re still fairly early in the NFL Draft process, it seems pretty clear there are no elite DT talents at the top of the draft. Sleepers are sure to arise, but there are very few can’t miss prospects in the bunch and even fewer who have the potential to lock down a significant role on a contender in 2021.

Free agency is required

If the Dallas Cowboys want to compete in 2021 they will need free agency to fix the DT situation. For as much hope as we have for Neville Gallimore and Trysten Hill to break out, they still have a looooong way to go and by no means should be relied on to start in 2021.

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To make matters worse, the best veteran DT on the roster this year, Antwaun Woods, is set to become a free agent. If Dallas just wants to tread water with Woods, they’ll need to compete for him in free agency. Assuming they actually want to upgrade – they’re going to need to get even more involved in the open market.

Next month we’ll dive into the different defensive tackles who are slated to hit the market this offseason. Names like Sheldon Rankins, DaQuan Jones, Ndamukong Suh, Roy Robertson-Harris, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Johnathan Hankins are all sure to spark interest.

Assuming they’re about to break the bank on Dak Prescott, the Dallas Cowboys have to be wise with their money. But if they’re is a position worth investing free agent dollars in, it’s probably DT this year. Not because it’s more important than cornerback or safety (it’s not), but because it’s not immediately solve through the draft.

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By all means, the Dallas Cowboys should invest a draft pick in the DT position this year. They just can’t expect it to solve the problems inside for a year or two. In order to compete in 2021 they’re going to have to sign a proven veteran in free agency.

  • Published on 12/03/2020 at 17:01 PM
  • Last updated at 12/03/2020 at 13:55 PM