The Dallas Cowboys have selected a defensive end in each of the last five drafts. Will they get another one this year? Here are six potential candidates and when the Cowboys should target them in the 2019 NFL Draft."WhiteFanposts Fanshots Sections Dallas Cowboys News2019 NFL Draft: Six defensive prospects for the Cowboys and when they should target them New Jaylon Smith Jersey Stitched
,49commentsThe Cowboys are sitting in good shape at defensive end, but that doesn’t mean they won’t take one in the upcoming draft.CDTShareTweetShareShare2019 NFL Draft: Six defensive prospects for the Cowboys and when they should target them Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY SportsThe Dallas Cowboys recently signed their star pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence to a lucrative five-year deal. The team also traded for veteran edge rusher Robert Quinn. On top of all that, the team has several young pass rusher prospects like Randy Gregory, Taco Charlton, and Dorance Armstrong on their roster that they are hoping will be a part of their future. On the surface, it doesn’t appear as if the Cowboys need a defensive end, but things can change in a hurry. Regardless of the condition of the Cowboys defensive end position group, the team has taken an edge rusher in each of the last five drafts. In the spirit of collecting talent, defensive ends are very much on the table in the upcoming draft, but which players are the Cowboys likely to show interest in? And what rounds are they likely to be drafted? Here are six defensive ends that could hear their name called when the Cowboys are on the clock.SECOND ROUNDJaylon Ferguson, Louisiana TechYou’d think that college football’s all-time sack leader would generate a lot more buzz entering the draft, but despite his 45 career sacks Ferguson just isn’t the prototype edge rusher most teams are looking for. He doesn’t have the build as he’s a little on the thick side, his bend is terrible, and he just doesn’t offer much athleticism. He gets off the snap okay, but isn’t twitched up like Rod Marinelli prefers. Despite all that, the Louisiana Tech defensive end has four years of outstanding production and it’s hard to argue with results. Steven Erler-USA TODAY SportsWhile the physical traits are lacking, Ferguson makes up for it with the mental ones. He relies on his instincts and lateral quickness to get past blockers. He’s got violent hands and uses them extremely well. His long arms and power to push-pull and snatch allows him to have his way with blockers. He’s very perceptive as to what the offensive linemen give him and knows how to attack their weaknesses. Ferguson is very solid against the run as he sticks with his assignments and uses his long arms to bring down ball carriers.Ferguson doesn’t have the high ceiling of an elite edge rusher, but possesses the ability to be a solid fixture along the defensive line at the NFL level. Would that be enough to justify using the 58th overall pick on him?THIRD ROUNDZach Allen, Boston CollegeThe Eagles defensive linemen is another trench warrior that could fall through the cracks of the draft. He doesn’t have the explosiveness you’d expect from most edge rushers, nor does he have the play strength to anchor down and defend interior gaps. His athleticism is good, but not great and he doesn’t offer great pass rushing appeal, only recording 16.5 sacks his entire four-year college career. That’s one less than Ferguson had last season alone.But with Allen, you’re not getting a sack master; you’re getting a high energy football player who has the propensity to make impact plays. In 2017, he racked up an impressive 100 total tackles. Allen is highly instinctive and knows how to work around blockers. He’s just a guy that finds a way to make plays, whether it’s batting down passes or blocking kicks. The amount of hustle he displays makes him a consistent finisher. While he doesn’t look like he can be great at any one thing, he possesses a wide range of attributes that allows him to play both inside and out. Something tells me he’ll find his niche in the NFL and that could lead to one heck of a defensive linemen.Jachai Polite, FloridaThe Florida star edge rusher is an interesting prospect. On tape, he’s a late first-round talent even with such a deep class of pass rushers. But upstairs, he brings with him all kinds of concerns that will inevitably hurt his draft stock. Where he falls will depend on just how badly his off field indiscretions play with NFL teams.Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY SportsPolite has all the athletic traits you look for in an edge rusher. He can bend, he’s got excellent get-off Youth Maliek Collins Jersey
, and he’s got an assortment of pass rushing moves. He’s got great burst to get after his opponent and displays excellent chase-down speed. While he has no weaknesses as a pass rusher, he offers up very little against the run, which takes him out of the running as a three-down player. The biggest concern with Polite is his character. Buzz about bad combine interviews and unimpressive workouts have generated some red flags. After the enigma of David Irving that saw an amazing talent fall to the wayside because of his immaturity, you’d have to believe it would take a considerable slide before the Cowboys would be willing to roll the dice with Polite.L.J. Collier, Texas ChristianTexas Christian’s L.J. Collier is another prospect that doesn’t wow anyone athletically, but constantly shows up on tape. His frame and lack of pass-rushing prowess makes him a questionable piece on the edge and at the same time he doesn’t have the size to withstand the every-play pounding of the inside. So, where does that leave Collier exactly?Collier is a tough guy who plays with a lot of aggression. He’s a clever pass rusher who always has a plan off attack and can sniff out weakness of his opponents. He is slow off the snap, but has a sudden burst that can get his blockers off balance, allowing him to bull rush right through them. Collier has active hands and strikes well, but his placement isn’t always where it needs to be. While he had a strong senior year, he only has one full season as a starter, but he could be on the rise. He had a good showing at the senior bowl and with the right coaching, he could offer up some nice upside.FOURTH ROUNDMaxx Crosby, Eastern MichiganLast year, the Cowboys were extremely excited when Dorance Armstrong was available in the fourth round as he was a nice development project they could put in their back pocket. A similar thing could happen this year if Eastern Michigan’s Maxx Crosby is still on the board when the team picks in Day 3.Crosby is an athletic specimen, finishing in the 90th percentile in every single one of the running and jumping categories at the combine. He’s a finesse pass rusher who has plenty of tape showing him winning. He’s got long strides to sneak around the edge and does a great job swiping at blockers. Crosby doesn’t have very good bend and often time plays too upright, allowing him to lose the leverage battle. His tackling leaves something to be desired as he has small hands without much strength to wrap up his opponents. It’s hard not lot like the potential he brings, but he’s going to need to add some bulk and strength to be an effective player in the NFL.FIFTH ROUNDJohn Cominsky, CharlestonIn continuing with the theme of non-prototypical defensive ends, Cominsky is one of those conundrums that begs the question... where will he fit in the NFL? He’s not an elite pass-rusher, he plays too upright, and he hasn’t figured out how to use the tools he has to be a consistent presence on the defensive line. Despite all of that, he shows a lot of positive things on tape that make him an interesting late-round option.Cominsky doesn’t have great get-off, but he’s relentless. The guy does everything he can to max out his potential. He put on over 70 pounds during his college tenure to get to 285. He’s an aggressive player and can make an impact in run support. Coming from a small school, his body of work comes from inferior competition, so it’s a little tougher to gauge just how good he is. Cominsky is an appealing development project the Cowboys should be able to land on Day 3 and they would have plenty of time to figure out where he would be the best feet. Jason Witten says the current Dallas Cowboys team has the most talent he’s seen since he’s been a part of the organization. Is he right? We take a look at each position and compare some of the great squads from Witten’s career."Last year, Jason Witten surprised everyone when he announced his retirement. It marked the end of days for all four of the Cowboys 2014 offensive stars: Witten, Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and DeMarco Murray. Just like that Maliek Collins Jersey Stitched
, they were gone.But alas, one has returned.There are number of reasons for Witten to return to the Cowboys. He loves to compete and being out of the game was a difficult thing for him, especially with him having a front row seat to the action week in and week out. And speaking of his broadcast career, maybe that didn’t turn out as easy as Romo made it seem. It’s no secret that Witten wasn’t the smoothest speaker of words and it bothered many in the audience. While those things may have had a big role in his return, there’s another reason that could also be pulling him back in - the Cowboys are a great team. In a recent article from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Clarence Hill Jr. reports that Witten said this current Cowboys roster has “the most talent I’ve seen” in his time with the organization.That’s a bold statement.Witten was on the Cowboys 2007 team that tied a franchise record of 13 wins, a mark that had only been reached one other time when Jimmy Johnson’s team won the Super Bowl back in 1992. The 2007 team featured an offense that was breaking records. First-year offensive coordinator Jason Garrett helped Romo and Terrell Owens break long-lasting franchise records for touchdown passes and catches in a single season. Romo, Owens, Witten, and running back Marion Barber all had Pro Bowl seasons. But while the offense was lighting up the scoreboard, the defense was pretty great too. It featured five Pro Bowlers on defense including: DeMarcus Ware, Roy Williams, Terence Newman, Greg Ellis, and Ken Hamlin.Then, there was the 2016 team just a few years ago that featured a new cast of Pro Bowl talent. Led by rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, the team again won 13 games, and it could have been 14 had the team not taken their foot off the gas in a meaningless Week 17 finale against the Philadelphia Eagles.While there hasn’t been a lot of time that’s passed since 2016, things have changed quite a bit with the Cowboys. But which of Witten’s team is truly better? Let’s examine...The new tripletsBasically, an aging Dez Bryant has been replaced with the younger, more route disciplined Amari Cooper. This new trio is up-and-coming as Dak, Zeke, and Coop have all made the Pro Bowl twice over the last three seasons.Back in 2007, the triplets were actually quadruplets as Romo and Owens attacked through the air, but they used an effective running back duo of Julius Jones and Marion Barber on the ground. They were really good at wearing teams down so that Barber could just punish teams late in the game.Advantage: Love him or hate him, TO was a game-changer. Back in 2007, he and Romo brought new life to the Cowboys offense. The trio of Dak, Zeke, and Amari combo is fantastic to watch and when you factor in a little excitement for Tony Pollard, the weapons on this offense are plentiful. But until they prove it on the field Youth Rico Gathers Jersey
, the 455 points the 2007 squad put up have earned them the advantage.Tight endThis one is really simple. You have Jason Witten at 25 years old vs. Witten at 34 vs. Witten at 37. The young Witten takes it easy. In fact, in 2007 Witten had the best seasons of his career. He posted a career high in yards (1,145) and second-best seasons in catches (96) and touchdowns (7).In 2007 and 2016, it was all Witten. Sure, Anthony Fasano (2007), Geoff Swaim (2016), and Gavin Escobar (2016) were on the team, but their contributions were negligible. The role of Witten now is projected to be far less significant than before, and the contributions of Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz should be a lot more helpful than the other guys in those previous years, but even still - it’s hard to top young Witten.Advantage: Young Witten easy. He hasn’t slowed down with age as much as you’d think, but he’s slowed down nonetheless.The offensive lineThe first-round All-Pro club of Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and Travis Frederick are all still in tact, however - they’ve got some added mileage on them. Smith has been missing three games per year in each of the last three seasons and Martin and Frederick both missed the first game of their career last season. All eyes will be on Frederick as he continues to build up strength after being diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome.While health concerns linger, the depth of the unit has improved considerably. Cameron Fleming holds down the swing tackle spot and the team has a couple young Connor’s battling for the left guard position. Even backup center Joe Looney has proven himself very dependable.Many people forget how good the Cowboys offensive line was back in 2007. Just like now, they had Pro Bowlers at left tackle (Flozell Adams), right guard (Leonard Davis) and center (Andre Gurode). Of course none of them ever earned All-Pro honors, but they still made up a strong offensive line. They even had current Cowboys offensive line coach Marc Colombo at right tackle.Advantage: It’s actually closer than we’d want to admit, but the depth of this current group brings some added strength to the unit.The defensive lineIt can make you cringe a bit to look at the state of the Cowboys defensive line back in 2016. Benson Mayowa was the team’s leader in sacks with a measly six, and DeMarcus Lawrence was an afterthought as he played hurt all year and only recorded one sack.The 2007 group was loaded with talent along the defensive line. DeMarcus Ware and Greg Ellis dominated the edge as they both had double-digit sacks and combined for 26.5 sacks on the year. Jay Ratliff and Jason Hatcher held down the interior, and they had reliable depth guys like Anthony Spencer, Chris Canty, and Marcus Spears. Make no mistake about it, this DL unit was really good.The current group looks very strong. The addition of Robert Quinn gives the team two really good rushers on the edge. They don’t have stars in the middle, but the rotation of Maliek Collins, Antwaun Woods, and rookie Trysten Hill should strengthen the middle. The possible reinstatement of Randy Gregory and reliability of veteran Tyrone Crawford rounds out a very strong group.Advantage: While there’s a new legendary DeMarcus in the making, you still have to give the edge to old DeMarcus. His squad was proven and filled with so much depth that they are the clear-cut winners.LinebackersIn 2007, only Bradie James had over 100 tackles. In 2016, Sean Lee stayed healthy the entire season and recorded a career-high 145 tackles Rico Gathers Jersey Stitched
, including 12 of them for a loss. It was good enough to earn him All-Pro honors for the first and only time of his career. He had help from Anthony Hitchens who added another 78 tackles.Last season, there was a changing of the guard as rookie Leighton Vander Esch burst on the scene. He recorded a team-high 140 tackles, earning All-Pro honors right away. Jaylon Smith added another 121 tackles. This new group of youngsters are the future for the Cowboys and they’re going to be great for a while. Oh yeah, and Sean Lee is still on the team as the #3 linebacker. How cool is that?Advantage: The current group is the strongest, hands down. And the great thing is, they’re going to just keep getting better.SecondaryThe current team features a solid cast of Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, and Anthony Brown at cornerback, with Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods at safety. Jones is an All-Pro after making the switch to corner, but the rest of the group is nothing more than solid. Granted, they’re young, but until they start taking the ball away more, they’re going to be seen as the weak link on the team. But considering they’re still solid, that’s not a terrible thing.The 2016 squad featured a lot of veterans like Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Barry Church, and J.J. Wilcox. They were also solid for the most part, but the team didn’t retain a single one of them after the season was over as they all left in free agency.The 2007 group was outstanding and featured three Pro Bowlers. Terence Newman and Anthony Henry manned the outside corners, while the tandem of Roy Williams and Ken Hamlin performed extremely well at safety. Hamlin led the team with six interceptions, and Williams was second in the team in tackles with 92. They were great against the run, and they were great in coverage.Advantage: The 2007 team runs away with this. The team has struggled to find the success at the safety position since that group departed.FINAL GRADESGrading out each position group from those seasons produces the following scores:The 2007 team still grades out the best, but the full potential of the current group isn’t factored in. If Quinn comes in and provides a Greg Ellis-like complement to Tank, the DE grade goes up. This new WR group has the potential to rise even further as the chemistry between Dak, Cooper, and second-year receiver Michael Gallup continues to grow. Adding Randall Cobb certainly doesn’t hurt either. But the biggest boost can come if the team’s new franchise quarterback takes the next step.So, Witten might be correct in what he said. Could that mean another 13-3 season is on the horizon? Anything less than an NFC Championship appearance will be considered a let down for many Cowboys fans, yet if the team achieves that - it will be the first time they’ve done it in 24 years. If that manages to happen, it’s safe to say Witten got it right.