The Dallas Cowboys have finally made some moves in free agency, but one question still looming is how they will address the defensive tackle position. While it is entirely possible Johnathan Hankins returns, the depth behind him for a big-bodied defensive tackle is relatively thin.
We know traditionally the Cowboys have not valued the spot as much as many would like, enter PJ Mustipher later in the draft is a possibility.
One of the plagues of the Cowboys’ defense the past few years is a susceptibility against the run, specifically regarding defensive line play. When Hankins went down in 2022, the run defense struggled as gap integrity was not held and the linebackers were asked to do too much. While they need to look at the entire line against the run, defensive tackle might be the most pressing need.
The Dallas Cowboys could look to add some beef up front and PJ Mustipher is a late-round addition that fits for need and the value.
Mustipher is a big-framed defensive tackle to has some good mobility in open space. He was recruited as more of a quicker defensive tackle, but Penn State had him add size to play a more traditional 1-tech style.
He has a relentless motor and can cover surprising ground in pursuit. Rarely did I see, in any of the games I watched, he takes a play off. He is a gap controller who flashed some ability to be a two-gap defender which could help him in his development.
What you won’t get much of with Mustipher is penetration, especially against the pass. This will limit him to being a first-down player early in his career or goal-line situations. He sometimes will get a little high with his pads, which may be a cause of being more of a controller and not a penetrator. His physical tools and motor could help him become a more complete defender, but for now, is really a little limited.
Mustipher would help spell Hankins if he is re-signed and that should help him develop to take over next year. He is a late-round pick but does fit the role the Cowboys are seriously lacking.
If the Cowboys continue to undervalue the defensive tackle position, Mustipher is a smart pick for how they tend to see the position. If he can work on his stacking and shedding, he has a chance to develop into a solid two or three-down starter.