Cowboys NFL Draft Needs by Position: Getting Defensive Line Help for Tank Lawrence A Priority

Matthew Postins

In this edition of Dallas Cowboys 2020 NFL Draft needs, a look at the defensive line and the work to be done by the front office to re-load for new coach Mike McCarthy:


CURRENT PLAYERS AT POSITION: Defensive end: Demarcus Lawrence (starter), Robert Quinn (starter), Dorance Armstrong, Michael Bennett, Christian Covington, Kerry Hyder, Joe Jackson, Jalen Jelks (IR), Randy Gregory (suspended), Daniel Wise; Defensive tackles: Maliek Collins (starter), Antwaun Woods (starter), Trysten Hill, Justin Hamilton (reserve/future), Tyrone Crawford (IR), Daniel Ross (IR). 

2020 FREE AGENTS: Bennett, Quinn, Covington, Hyder, Collins, Ross (restricted), Woods (ERFA).


THE BREAKDOWN: First, let’s look at what the Cowboys could potentially lose. Bennett is a rental and shouldn’t be expected to return in 2020. Quinn has done great work for the Cowboys in 2019, but that means that other teams will be interested as well, and Quinn is at an age where every contract could be his last. So if another team comes his way with a big offer the Cowboys won’t match, then he’s basically gone. Now you’ve lost your starting right defensive end.

Collins will hit the market, too, and if the Cowboys decide not to keep him then you lose your starting under tackle. Ross and Woods are unlikely to go anywhere due to the fact that the Cowboys can match any offer, but I’m not sure either tackle is at Collins’ level. So the potential for the Cowboys to lose two starters exists this offseason. Maybe Armstrong is the answer opposite Lawrence. Maybe Jelks comes off injured reserve and wows the Cowboys. Maybe Gregory finally gets back on the field again. Maybe Jackson can play.

But those are a lot of maybes.

The Cowboys feel thin at tackle right now, and injuries have something to do with that. Plus, Crawford, while under contract, could be a cap casualty in 2020. (We're told he's willing to take a pay cut to stay.) And Hill has done nothing to show he’s ready for a role yet.

Getting pressure on the quarterback from all four line positions is too important in the NFL for teams to pin their hopes on ‘maybes.’ This will be a high need for the Cowboys in the 2020 Draft. It wouldn’t surprise me if they spent a high pick on a tackle. What will be interesting is to see how the new coaching staff, led by head coach McCarthy and his new defensive coordinator, Mike Nolan, influence the draft process.