The Cowboys have a talented team in many areas but they also have flaws. Questions on the offensive line still need to be answered, and the wide receiver position has a huge hole to fill with the loss of Amari Cooper.
Things aren’t all sunshine and roses on defense either according to Pro Football Focus. While linebacker Micah Parsons is seen as the team’s biggest strength, the defensive tackle position is viewed as its biggest weakness heading into the 2022 season.
PFF’s Ben Linsey on the Cowboys’ issues on the interior of their defensive line:
“As good as Lawrence has been up front for the Cowboys over the past five years, the rest of the defensive line has some concerns. Dallas’ defensive tackles combined for a 33.1 PFF run-defense grade last season (30th in the NFL), and the only real addition to the group this offseason was fifth-round pick John Ridgeway. The Cowboys are relying on younger players such as Neville Gallimore and Osa Odighizuwa to take a step forward in 2022.”
Gallimore and Odighizuwa are the perfect places to start. Gallimore showed promise during his rookie campaign in 2020. Unfortunately, a dislocated elbow kept him out until December last season so his potential couldn’t fully shine through in year two. Odighizuwa looked explosive and powerful in the early part of the 2021 season but hit the infamous rookie wall thanks in large part to playing a lot in the preseason.
As far as upside goes, Gallimore and Odighizuwa sit at the top of the list when it comes to defensive tackles in Dallas. Their continued development sits at the forefront of the position.
Chauncey Golston will see his role change on the Cowboys’ defense this upcoming season. He packed on around 20 pounds during the offseason and will transition to playing more 3-tech than being an edge rusher. The word is that Golston hasn’t lost any speed or quickness despite his bigger size and when you factor in his length he can potentially be a problem for interior offensive linemen.
If there’s any player on the Cowboys’ defensive line that enters the new season with a target on their back it’s Trysten Hill. He has only played in 18 out of a possible 50 games, and as a former second-round pick entering a contract season, Hill is facing the most critical year of his career. If Hill doesn’t show something in training camp, his days in Dallas could end before the new season starts.
Veteran Carlos Watkins, who is coming off a solid year, will need another good outing as a reliable rotation piece in 2022. The aforementioned Ridgeway and his 6-foot-5 frame at over 320 pounds with long arms have room to grow but his motor and aggressive nature will be an important factor in the Cowboys’ interior defensive line having success.
If the Cowboys want to take the next step in the evolution of their defense the interior has to take it up a few notches.
Feature image via Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports