FRISCO, Texas – The Cowboys lost Aldon Smith and his five 2020 sacks in free agency. Randy Gregory looks likely to step into that void, but there's no denying Chauncey Golston has an opportunity at playing plenty of snaps in 2021.
Then again, the Cowboys also lost the veteran leadership and versatility of Tyrone Crawford in the offseason when the career Cowboy retired from football just last month. It's possible that the young Golston has even more in common with Crawford, who was also selected in the third round out of Boise State in 2012.
Golston, who showed positional flexibility along the defensive line in college, got on the practice field at The Star for the first time along with the other rookies for minicamp on Friday. After practice, he told the media where the coaching staff has initial plans of playing him.
"I'll be focusing on [defensive] end right now," Golston said. "That's all we've gotten to so far. But overall just trying to get better at learning the defense and being a better first-step player."
The rookie stated he would be "comfortable on either side" of the defensive line, which means that he could play opposite of DeMarcus Lawrence at left defensive end or could sub in for Lawrence when he rotates out of the game.
All that being said, of course most rookies would love to catapult into a starting job at their preferred position en route to a Pro Bowl career. But long-term careers are typically made out of players who understand that franchises value reliability and versatility. Crawford didn't sell a lot of jerseys in Dallas, but he was a pivotal part of the franchise's defensive plan for years both as a defensive end and an under tackle. He provided depth in some years and was a solid starter in others.
Perhaps Golston will be a star player at some point, but he made clear on Friday that he would be more than happy to play as a three-technique player on the inside of the defensive line in nickel and dime packages if he's asked to.
"That's how I got on the field my first time in Iowa," Golston said. "I've always been trying to get on the field no matter what or where. So, if I'm on the inside, I'm just trying to make a play. At the end of the day, it's football."
With a new defensive coordinator and a new defensive line coach and a defensive front seven that didn't consistently inspire much confidence in 2020, the Cowboys' coaching staff is likely going to be fluid with their approach to improving their results going forward. With the pick of Golston, the Cowboys know they infused young talent onto their defense.
From his perspective, he plans to reward their faith from wherever they want him on the field.
"You want to be a Swiss army knife. So, you want to be able wherever there's opportunity."