In 2016, the Dallas Cowboys experienced a tremendous amount of good fortune to go along with what many perceived as misfortune. The team was able to produce a season for the ages but finished short of the ultimate goal of competing in and winning the organization’s sixth Super Bowl. With the off-season underway and the Combine starting this week, there are three moves that could push the Cowboys back to the top of the NFL.
Three Moves Could Push the Cowboys to the Top
Here are three moves the Cowboys could make during the off-season that could change the team’s immediate future.
Move #1- Make a Free Agent Splash Signing
Everyone believes the Cowboys need to find a true pass-rusher to help what was a much-improved defense become elite. This is true. However, one of the team’s glaring weaknesses is the lack of play-makers in a much-maligned secondary.
Most fans and experts are screaming that the squad needs to add a top-tier corner-back but some of us see things a little differently. Aggressive pursuit of one of the available free agent strong safeties like the Arizona Cardinal Tony Jefferson would be huge for the Cowboys.
Jefferson is only twenty-five years old and has proved his worth since entering the league a couple years ago. He may not have a large number of interceptions but he has forced six fumbles in his four seasons. Conversely, the Cowboys starting strong safety for the past four seasons Barry Church has recorded just seven forced fumbles and five interceptions in his seven years with the team. Church has recorded three more interceptions than Jefferson but his body appears to be breaking down.
If the team really wants to make a splash in free agency, it might look to find that highly-coveted pass-rusher. Players like the Cardinals Chandler Jones or the San Diego Chargers Melvin Ingram. Both players have been dominant the past few seasons but may carry the type of price-tag that could detract their respective teams from re-signing them.
New England’s Jabaal Sheard is also available but former Cowboy Demarcus Ware is also on the market. Ware has remained impactful despite a few injury issues. He could be persuaded to return at a bargained rate. Bringing Ware back may not be a bad idea. He could help groom the team’s younger, more athletic defensive linemen.
Move #2- Draft a Play-maker in the Secondary
If the Cowboys are able to land their pass-rusher during the free agency signing period, they should most certainly go after a true play-making defensive back in the upcoming draft. This year’s crop is filled with several outstanding corner-backs and safeties. One of the players who is currently flying under the radar and could fall into the Cowboys lap at the 28th pick is University of Connecticut strong safety Obi Melifonwu.
Melifonwu is blessed with tremendous size at 6’4” 219 pounds and speed with a recorded 4.5 in the 40-yard dash. During his college career, the youngster produced 351 tackles and eight interceptions. He also forced and recovered two fumbles while breaking up 16 passes. The Cowboys could use a player with this type of ability. His inexperience is a concern but his physical attributes should help him find his way, quickly.
Texas A&M safety Justin Evans is another option. Evans recorded 165 tackles and intercepted five passes during his two seasons at A&M. He is also a skilled kick-returner who could provide the spark the team has missed since the departure of Dwayne Harris a few seasons back. Ultimately, the Cowboys must find a day-one starter to help its struggling secondary. If they do decide to re-sign Church, the team could opt to draft a free safety which would enable Byron Jones to move to corner-back full-time.
Move#3- Trade up in the Draft
The Cowboys could really make waves, if they are able to move up into the draft. There are plenty of top-tier pass rushers available but they won’t be on the board for very long. Leaping into the top ten could insure the team of snagging a front-line speed-rusher. Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett has made it clear that he would love to be a Cowboy through social media.
Garrett has been one of the most productive defensive linemen in the country the past three years. During his tenure he has produced 48.5 tackles for losses, including 32.5 sacks. The youngster also recorded four interceptions. His ability would change the look of the Cowboys defense, dramatically.
If Garrett isn’t available, the team could select Tennessee’s Derek Barnett or Michigan’s Taco Charlton. Both players are highly-touted and would give the Cowboys defense the play-maker it needs to move into the upper-echelon of the NFL.
When it’s all said and done, any of these three moves would go a long way toward turning the fortune of the Cowboys. One can only hope that the decision-makers are grinding their mental gears in an effort to get America’s Team over the proverbial hump and back in the winner’s circle.