Each NFL season, every team has a player that bears a little added attention. So which performer could turn the corner for the Dallas Cowboys in ’17?
Welcome to yet another 32-team series from End Zone Score. In recent months, we took the time to look at each club’s best offseason addition. We even dabbled into some pertinent and historical numbers.
Every NFL season features players that come into their own after a slow start to their careers. It’s tough to tell when each performer’s coming-put party will take place. Some are immediate successes. Others take longer due to numerous circumstances, but they prove to be worth the wait. Here we will try and pinpoint a player from each team in the league that we feel is on the verge of putting it altogether.
When it came to free-agent departures on one side of the football, perhaps no team in the league lost more key defensive players than the defending NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys. It’s a list that includes a pair of defensive linemen Terrell McClain (Washington Redskins) and Jack Crawford (Atlanta Falcons), as well as four members of the secondary. Cornerbacks Morris Claiborne (New York Jets) and Brandon Carr (Baltimore Ravens) as well as safeties Barry Church (Jacksonville Jaguars) and J.J. Wilcox (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) have all moved on.
This past season, Jason Garrett’s defense was protected by its running game. The Cowboys allowed the fewest rushing yards in the league. The pass rush produced 36 sacks. But Dallas’ defenders allowed 25 scores through the air and picked off only nine passes.
Rookie defensive tackle Maliek Collins proved to be a viable pass rusher. But his overall ranking when it comes to Pro Football Focus is pretty low due to his deficiencies against the run. The 2016 third-round pick finished second on the team with five sacks and 13 quarterback hits. With another year in Rod Marinelli’s system, look for the former Nebraska Cornhusker to take another step forward.
The Dallas Cowboys will need all they can get from Collins. Promising defensive lineman David Irving will miss the first four games of the season due to a league suspension. And we’re not quite sure what to expect from rookie defensive end Taco Charlton. The former Michigan standout was the team’s first-round pick in April. But it’s a third-rounder from ’16 that may take a big leap forward this year.