The Dallas Cowboys are on the verge of becoming a great team. They have a solid young core, but what positions should the team upgrade in the offseason?
Though the Dallas Cowboys seemingly turned around the franchise after acquiring wide receiver Amari Cooper, several weaknesses were highlighted throughout the final stretch of the season. The Cowboys have the foundational pieces in quarterback Dak Prescott, Cooper, running back Ezekiel Elliott, and linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. But clearly, the organization needs to fill some holes in the roster to be a true contender. So, which positions should the Cowboys look to upgrade in the offseason?
1. Tight end
Dallas’ offense missed future Hall Of Famer Jason Witten in 2018. The current philosophy of running the football and converting on short third downs requires a top-tier tight end. Tight ends Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz, and Rico Gathers did not consistently contribute to the offense. Though the first two showed progress throughout the season, it would be smart for the team to either look for a veteran tight end in free agency or use their second-round pick (remember the Cowboys traded their 2019 first-round pick for Cooper) to find a number one tight end.
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Adding a tight end who can stretch the middle of the field and be able to reach-block could improve the offense dramatically. With Cole Beasley’s future with the team uncertain, the need at this position could only grow. On clear passing situations, defenses would play in cover-2 most of the time. With a tight end who makes plays between the hashes, the defense would be forced to pay attention to him. This would leave Cooper and Michael Gallup in more favorable matchups.
Kris Richard, the defensive passing game coordinator, worked wonders with the secondary. Byron Jones found his home at cornerback, as he was elected to his first Pro Bowl for his performance. His counterpart, Chidobe Awuzie also showed flashes of star-potential in the last seven games of the season. But, on a few key plays, the safeties let the team down. Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods had their moments, but at the safety position, one bad play turns into a touchdown. Against the Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional round, both safeties struggled to make tackles in space. Though this was not the reason the Cowboys lost the game, it did not help.
Earlier in the season, rumors fluttered around that the Cowboys were interested in trading for Earl Thomas. This offseason, Thomas (free agent) will be recovering from a broken leg. On top of this, Dallas may be able to offer him a home-town discount, as Thomas played at the University of Texas in his college days. This might play in the Cowboys’ favor when it comes down to negotiating power. Whether or not Thomas becomes a Cowboy, the team needs to upgrade the position somewhere in the draft. [bctt tweet=”Share via Twitter” username=”natn03″]
3. Offensive line
In 2018, the Dallas Cowboys’ offense line did not live up to the hype. Losing perennial All-Pro center, Travis Frederick really set the team back. He is expected to make a return in 2019 which will be a huge boost for the offense. Think of Frederick’s return as Dallas’ number one overall pick in the draft. Rookie left guard, Connor Williams was actually not as bad as people think. Early in the season, he was mauled by defensive linemen. But against the shoo-in Defensive Player of the Year, Aaron Donald, Williams actually held is own for the most part. With a full offseason in the weight lifting program, Williams should bulk up and be even better next year.
But the team still needs to look at adding to the line. They should replace right tackle La’el Collins or get a reliable swing tackle. Collins allowed the most pressures on the offensive line, per Pro Football Focus. And most of these were not when Prescott was holding the ball too long. Collins just got beat off the defenders’ release too often. Even if they do not replace Collins, they should find a rookie that could develop into one day replace aging Tyron Smith. The offensive line is supposed to be the identity of the team, so the more able bodies the better.
4. Defensive tackle
You could even throw in defensive end to this list, but for our purposes let’s assume Demarcus Lawrence re-signs with the Cowboys. The Cowboys have some studs at defensive tackle that truly added fire to the “hot boyz”. So, the position is not as dire as everyone speculated it would be before the regular season. Antwaun Woods and Maliek Collins provided a spark for the defense. But against the Rams, they were exposed. The Cowboys should consider adding a big defensive tackle who can stay in the rotation, and plug up rushing lanes. Solid defensive line play is hard to find, but it can mean a world of difference for the linebackers.
The Cowboys have a lot to reflect on to make well-informed decisions that could determine whether or not the team is a contender. Though the organization does not currently have a first-round pick, expect an insane offseason. [bctt tweet=”Share via Twitter” username=”natn03″]
What do you think the Cowboys’ biggest positions of need are? Is there anyone in particular you want Dallas to grab? Feel free to share your opinions in the comment section below!
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