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Mailbag: How Good Are The Defensive Line Additions?

Posted Apr 16, 2014

GREG TOLLE
DUNCAN, OK

Nobody expects Jeremy Mincey and Terrell McClain to replace Jason Hatcher and DeMarcus Ware, but how much better are they than the string of guys who blew through last year?
 
David: I’m guessing that was the point in making those signings early, while there were still decent players on the market – they are a step up from the guys who will be available in July. You probably don’t want either guy starting on your line, but Mincey has played in 66 career games, which is double or triple the number of most of last year’s emergency signings. McClain played in all 16 games for Houston last year, rather than hopping from roster to roster or waiting at home for a phone call. I think both guys are quality rotational/depth signings, and I wouldn’t expect either to have an issue making the team. The problems arise if you’re asking either one of them to be a 16-game starter.
 
Rowan: They should be better than most of those guys, who were largely cast-offs and afterthoughts not coveted for a roster spot by any other team. Both Mincey and McClain would have surely been on a roster this season, even if they weren't starting. Mincey also has an eight-sack year to his name. As you said, they shouldn't be looked at as replacements necessarily, but they're better than most of the midseason additions of last year.
 
CHRIS ARNOLD
WAKEFIELD, MA

Being 6-5 with great hands and decent speed, does it make sense to use Gavin Escobar more as a third receiver instead of at tight end? Isn't a tight end that doesn't block basically a receiver anyway?
 
David: I’m sure Jimmy Graham would applaud your line of reasoning, as he’d stand to profit quite a bit from it. I think you have a point, and I think Escobar’s future will probably involve him moving off the line a good bit. But that feels too simplistic. Firstly, he doesn’t have the speed to be a true wide receiver, so he’s limited in what he can do for you. Second, I don’t think you want him to be purely one-dimensional, because it limits what you can do with him. You don’t want Escobar’s presence in the formation to be a dead giveaway of a pass.
 
Rowan: It really depends on how he develops as a blocker and with his strength this offseason. He was used quite a bit off the line and in the slot last season as a mismatch on the outside, but ideally he'd be able to move inside more on the line. That way, the Cowboys aren't tipping their hand on what they're running. The Cowboys emphasized the two-tight end sets when they drafted Escobar, not the three-wide sets with Escobar on the outside, although that's what ended up happening a lot of the time.

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