FRISCO, Texas – Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn's defense has reloaded. First0-round selection Mazi Smith and other draft picks have been added to an already impressive list of defensive talent. One of the best units in the NFL last year has a chance to be even better in 2023.
Over the last few seasons, players like Luke Gifford, Markquese Bell, Tyler Coyle, and others have made strides as defensive additions after the draft. With so many new players added to that side of the ball, paired with the main nucleus of players returning, the undrafted rookies will need to impress the coaching staff early and often.
Now, it's time so watch for potential stand outs during the upcoming Rookie mini-camp. Here are three defensive signings that could find their way onto the roster this offseason.
Isaiah Land, Edge (Florida A&M)
Winner of the Buck Buchanan Award in 2021 as the top defender in the FCS, Land brings a pedigree of success. The 6-foot-3 edge rusher lived in the backfield for the Rattlers throughout his career and tallied an incredible 42.5 tackles for loss and 29 sacks over his final three seasons.
His speed off the edge is apparent on film and he made quick work against the lower-level competition he faced. He once jumped into the transfer portal to possibly make the jump to a Power Five program but decided to stay with Florida A&M because of their loyalty to him from the beginning.
While Dallas is pretty loaded at the edge rusher position, there is always a rotational need for speed rushers and overall lateral quickness. Land has both. He could be a flashy training camp watch and quickly become a fan favorite in the preseason.
Durrell Johnson, LB (Liberty)
The 2022 FBS leader in tackles for loss (27.5) has made his way to Dallas. Johnson and Cincinnati linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. were the only two players in the FBS with over 20 TFLs this season.
Johnson started his college career at ASA college before making the jump to the FBS in 2020, immediately finding success with 11.5 TFL and 8.5 sacks in just 11 games. He battled through a right knee injury in 2021 but returned in a big way with his school-record 27.5 tackles last season.
Very similar to the forementioned Isaiah Land, Johnson wins battles at the line of scrimmage with speed and lateral quickness. He uses his hands well and is very strategic on his pass rush moves. During the draft process, he added 14 pounds to his frame from the NFLPA Bowl to his Pro Day on March 21. An improvement from 237 pounds to 251 pounds while adding muscle over a short period of time. Something that would help him fit right in with the Cowboys pass rush.
Myles Brooks, CB (Louisiana Tech)
One of the most underrated and possibly significant signings of the weekend came from Louisiana Tech's Myles Brooks. Dan Quinn has had plenty success with long and rangy cornerbacks throughout his career. However, Brooks brings a different style of play.
Listed at just under 6-foot-1 and 201 pounds, Brooks was under sized and relatively under recruited out of Pflugerville Hendrickson High School. He ultimately landed at Stephen F. Austin where he played sparingly for two seasons before breaking out in 2021 with four interceptions and starting all 12 games.
Following his first-team All-WAC season, he made the jump to the FBS and Conference USA where his ball-hawking ability remained on display. He broke up a team-high nine passes and tallied another three interceptions last season.
Instincts are how Brooks wins his battles. A natural born defender and a good tackler for his size. For Dallas, 2022 showed that there can never be too much depth in the secondary. Brooks could be that despite not being ready for a significant role just yet. As a developmental cornerback, he could stay on the radar if he continues to make plays like he did in college.