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Mailbag: What Is The Roster Outlook At Defensive End?

30 November 2017: Jaylon Smith (54) of the Dallas Cowboys during their NFL week 13 regular season 38-14 win over the Washington Redskins at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Photo by James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

The offensive line went from a weakness of this team to a strength in just a few years, starting with the release of veteran guys to make room for fresh blood, even if it meant a short-term loss of productivity. Do you think the loss of Ware and Hatcher is a sign that the Cowboys have taken that same first step with the d-line?

Bryan: This front office tried to get defensive help during the draft. They were prepared to take Anthony Barr, Aaron Donald or Ryan Shazier. It didn't work out in the first round but they grabbed a solid player in DeMarcus Lawrence in the second. Their head was not in the sand about this defense. Look where they spent their free agent dollars: Henry Melton, Jeremy Mincey and Terrell McClain. The offensive line was not an overnight fix nor will this defensive line but they know they have to do something.  

David:The rebuilding of the offensive line should at the very least give fans hope that the pass rush will be worked on and improved – in the coming years, not right away. DeMarcus Lawrence looks like a great starting point for the future, but who can say if Henry Melton has a longterm future here. My guess is we'll see a [embedded_ad] focus on pass rushers and defensive line depth in the 2015 and 2016 drafts. It's not going to improve over night, just like the offensive line didn't, but it's a step in the right direction.

With DeMarcus Lawrence hurt, if the Cowboys don't put Anthony Spencer on PUP, and he's not ready for Week 1, then they'll have to carry six defensive ends just to have four ready for the San Francisco game. Can they afford to do that?

Bryan: They are prepared to carry six if they have to. Now you understand why that 4th running back, 3rd quarterback and 6th wide receiver are really not options. The roster numbers just don't work.

David: In addition to what Bryan said, I'll add that a lot of the guys on the defensive line have the flexibility to move between defensive end and defensive tackle. I'm not necessarily saying they'll be good, but it's something the Cowboys will be able to do if they have to.

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