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If Season Started Now, Here's How Cowboys Defensive Lineup Might Look

FRISCO, Texas – So the Cowboys have seen nine players walk out the door in free agency over the last two weeks.

In return, three new players have signed with six others rejoining the squad.

The free-agent signing period is far from over but it's certainly at a calmer state right now and will continue to be that way as we inch closer to the draft in late April.

Whether or not the Cowboys sign any other players in free agency, they undoubtedly will add players in the draft and rookie free agency.

With that being said, let's look at a very early look at how this team is stacking up. Injuries aside, if the Cowboys had to line up and play a game right now, what would we see?

This isn't every player on the roster but what an unofficial game-day 46-man lineup could look like.

Today, we focus on the defensive side of the ball and will return for the offensive guys on Thursday.

Defensive End

Starters:DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving

Key Backups: Benson Mayowa, Charles Tapper, Damontre Moore

Analysis: This is one the one spot that might see the most changes because there are other factors in play. For one, Crawford has played end last year but could be sliding back down to tackle. Irving has played everywhere but his most dominant games occurred at end. And of course, the draft will likely have some additions across the line. Also, don't get caught up too much about the starters and backups because the Cowboys will use a healthy eight-man rotation where they all play about the same.

Defensive Tackle

Starters:Tyrone Crawford, Maliek Collins

Key Backups: Stephen Paea, Cedric Thornton 

Analysis: Again, like the end position, the backups and starters could easily flip based off the matchups and what kind of rotation Rod Marinelli is looking for each week. But if the Cowboys don't end up addressing this position again in the offseason, they have a healthy mix of experienced players with athletic bodies. Collins could be ready to take off in his second season and might be the best of the bunch. If Crawford indeed moves back inside, it will be his more natural position. Paea has a chance to be a solid replacement for the departed Terrell McClain. 


Starters:Sean Lee, Anthony Hitchens, Damien Wilson 

Key Backups: Kyle Wilber, Mark Nzeocha, Jaylon Smith 

Analysis: The big wild card here, of course, is Smith. If he's healthy and ready to go, then it's very unlikely he will be a backup. But as of now, considering he's never gone through an NFL practice, it seems premature to pencil him in as a starter. If they had to play right now, Hitchens would probably man the middle with Wilson at the SAM and Lee at WILL. Wilson came on strong last year and should be ready to take the next step. The same could be said for Nzeocha. But the depth of this group will hinge on the health and status of Smith.


Starters:Byron Jones, Jeff Heath  

Key Backups: Kavon Frazier  

Analysis: Needless to say, the Cowboys will address this position in the offseason. As it stands now, this is what they've got after seeing Church and Wilcox leave in free agency. The Cowboys' brass sound rather committed to Heath, who happens to be the team's best special teams player. Having another player join this group as a starter would push Heath back to his third safety role but allows him to have the same roles on special teams. There are some coaches and scouts who think Frazier is ready to take a big leap in his second season. Perhaps he can prove himself as a starter. Either way, the safety spot won't look like this come August.


Starters:Orlando Scandrick, Nolan Carroll

Key Backups: Anthony Brown, Leon McFadden  

Analysis: Just like safety, expect changes here in the next few months. They have to address this spot in the draft, likely with more than one pick. And again, don't get too caught up in the rotation. Brown might end up starting with one of the two veterans playing mostly in the nickel. Carroll is comparable to what they lost in Brandon Carr, but there isn't a real replacement now for Mo Claiborne. That's where the draft will come into play. The Cowboys are hoping for Brown to come back even better in 2017, as well as to find another gem like him in this year's draft.

(Thursday, we'll look at the potential lineup on offense.)

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