FRISCO, Texas — It's a bold new world in 2023 for Isaac Alarcón, the likes of which would make Aladdin blush. Having spent the large majority of his football career positioned on the offensive line, including flexing between tackle and guard for the Dallas Cowboys over the course of his NFL development, Alarcón is being moved this offseason to the defensive side of the ball.
Having completed OTAs (organized team activities) at defensive tackle, he now opens mandatory minicamp with several practices under his belt — giving him a better idea of the differences between the two positions.
In his first Q&A since making the move, Alarcón is all smiles and enjoying the transition.
"It's definitely more fun, you know?" he said. "Having fun with my guys and [assistant defensive line coach Sharrif Floyd]. Also the guys, Osa [Odighizuwa] and Neville [Gallimore], they're helping me get settled with this new position. It's been a fun process."
It's key to note he didn't wait until OTAs to get started, with Odighizuwa teaching him pass rush moves in unscripted, padless one-on-one sessions weeks before players officially reported to the facility.
Alarcón joined the organization in 2020 as a part of the NFL's International Pathway Program, signed as an undrafted free agent out of Mexico — one of four players awarded to the NFC East (one per team). Initially, IPP rules prohibited Alarcón from being eligible for activation in Year 1, instead holding him to the practice squad for further development with a chance to make the active roster in Year 2.
He's shown growth that has both impressed head coach Mike McCarthy and kept him in Dallas these past three seasons, which is just fine for a man who was once just a boy cheering on the Cowboys from his childhood home in Mexico and dreaming of one day wearing the Star.
Alarcón is no stranger to overcoming challenges, both in life and in his football journey, and he's approaching the latest one head-on and with a unique perspective that could help hasten his progress.
After all, much like a wide receiver turned defensive back, he understands what moves and strategies work best for defensive lineman, seeing as he's been trying to stop them for years.
The hardest part, he admits, is teaching his body to move in new ways.
"It's a more athletic [position]," he said. "Having played offensive lineman the last three seasons, I understand what this looks like [from the other side]. I just have to make the [transition] to making these [new] looks, and to be more athletic — to bend myself more and learn the [new] moves while getting up to the right speed is the challenge."
A latecomer to the sport, Alarcón didn't begin playing football until the age of 14 (2012). He went on to play for UANL High School No. 9 Eagles and eventually for Borregos ITESM Monterrey and, in 2016, he helped lead the Mexican team to a bronze medal at the Under 19 World Championship in China.
He's no stranger to performing under pressure, but now he has a chance to deliver it into the offensive backfield versus attempting to stop it.
"It's definitely more fun chasing the quarterback," said Alarcón, wearing a huge grin.
Any QB he gets his massive hands on in the future will likely disagree, because their subsequent carpet ride will be anything but magical.