Dallas Cowboys position group grades: Defense entering 2024 OTAs

Since Micah Parsons was drafted by the Cowboys in 2021, they have become one of the best defensive units in the NFL. With the hopeful emergence of some of their younger players, the Cowboys could be better in 2024. These are the early positional grades for the Cowboys' defense to enter 2024 OTAs.
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The Dallas Cowboys' dominant defense in the regular season was a no-show in the playoffs, as the team gave up 48 points in a loss to the Green Bay Packers in the Wild Card round of the NFL Playoffs.

With few changes from 2023 to this season, here are the Cowboys position group grades on the defensive side of the ball as we prepare for the 2024 season.

Interior Defensive Line

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Despite the interior defensive line proving to be a real weakness in the Cowboys' early playoff exit, the team made very few changes to its defensive line.

The Cowboys hope that their draft picks, Osa Odighizuwa and Mazi Smith, will continue to improve and be the difference moving forward.

Behind Odighizuwa and Smith, Dallas has Chauncey Golston, seventh-rounder Justin Rogers, UDFA Denzel Daxon, and Carl Davis Jr. as rotational pieces.

Grade: C

Edge Rushers

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The Cowboys' edge rushers form the most talented position group on the team. Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence are one of the best pass-rushing tandems in the NFL, often striking fear in their opponents.

Fans should not worry about the losses of Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler because Sam Williams and rookie Marshawn Kneeland are more than capable as rotational pass rushers.

Grade: A


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The Cowboys' linebackers can potentially be the most improved position group on the team in 2024. Loaded with young talent such as Damone Clark, DeMarvion Overshown, and Marist Liufau, the team brought in veteran Eric Kendricks to help them flourish in Zimmer's system.

Kendricks, one of the best inside linebackers in his nine-year career, spent seven seasons under the helm of current Cowboys Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer.

Grade: B-


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Depending on how Trevon Diggs returns from a torn ACL, this grade could quickly become an A. The Cowboys have great depth behind Diggs, after Daron Bland became a star last season, gaining valuable experience playing outside of the slot.

Slot corner Jourdan Lewis is still competing at a high level but will have to earn a starting job with Israel Mukuamu and rookie Caelen Carson, who are on the rise. Nahshon Wright and Eric Scott Jr. still have to prove themselves but show potential, especially as rotational pieces.

Grade: A-


Jamie Germano/Rochester Democrat and

There may not be a star in the safety group, but from top to bottom, the Cowboys have one of the most talented safety groups in the NFL. With the loss of Jayron Kearse, the Cowboys have a void to fill and are looking for one of their young safeties to be the next man up.

Donovan Wilson and Malik Hooker will be the starters, Markquese Bell should fill in nicely in Kearse's old role, Juanyeh Thomas and Israel Mukuama provide excellent depth at both corner and safety, while UDFA Julius Wood, Sheldrick Redwine, and UDFA Emany Johnson will have to earn a spot on the roster.

Grade: B+

Outside of the Cowboys' phenomenal pass rushers and defensive backs, there is still uncertainty surrounding the rest of the defense. The Cowboys are banking on young defensive tackles and linebackers to improve from their 2023 inconsistencies; otherwise, the Cowboys will still be exposed when defending the run. Overall, they will still have one of the best defenses in the league, but I would still be nervous come playoff time.

Overall Grade: B

Other Position Group Grades:

- Offense

Koby Skillern