NFL rumors have long surrounded the Dallas Cowboys and their desire to upgrade the defensive line. Some even viewed that as the top off-season priority over finding a backup quarterback for the frequently hobbled Tony Romo. As is the case every year, fans in Dallas want a big splash in free agency. According to ESPN, the Cowboys decided to go with a low-key acquisition by signing Cedric Thornton from the Philadelphia Eagles.
A dominant defensive line is a key ingredient to success in the NFL. The Denver Broncos were able to win the Super Bowl with a less-than-spectacular Peyton Manning at the helm because they were able to harass opponents with Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware. Cam Newton and the juggernaut known as the Carolina Panthers were finally slayed in the championship game because of those two defensive stalwarts routinely humiliated their offensive tackles.
The Dallas Cowboys were hoping that their defensive line was going to be dominant last season. They took a gamble on Greg Hardy, a talented player with a lot of issues on field, and off. Hardy wasn’t spectacular, and he wore out his welcome by routinely making headlines for all the wrong reasons. The Cowboys also took a risk on Randy Gregory in the second round of the draft, and he might be on his way out of the NFL if he keeps failing drug tests.
Since things didn’t work out all that well last season, the Dallas Cowboys are expected to spend another off season upgrading their defensive line. The first step in the process was Cedric Thornton. The Cowboys handed Thornton a four-year deal worth $18 million to leave the Philadelphia Eagles, who are in the midst of another rebuilding era with former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator taking over for Chip Kelly, who is now with the San Francisco 49ers.
While he played defensive end in a 3-4 scheme for the Philadelphia Eagles, Cedric Thornton is expected to move further inside by starting at defensive tackle for the Dallas Cowboys. In the scheme designed by Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, Thornton will actually be functioning more like a nose guard, which should see him taking on opposing guards and centers instead of offensive tackles like before.
Cedric Thornton is expected to replace Nick Hayden, a three-year starter for the Dallas Cowboys. Hayden was solid but not spectacular, which is what the Cowboys need from their defensive line. Thornton will line up next to Tyrone Crawford, a defensive tackle that needs some help on the interior so that he can be disruptive on the line of scrimmage. If Thornton can consistently occupy two offensive lineman, then Crawford will be matched up against just one blocker.
The Dallas Cowboys are far from done when it comes to rebuilding their defensive line. Another free agent signing wouldn’t be surprising. The Cowboys will also spend one of their early selections in the upcoming NFL Draft on a defensive lineman. Some have linked Dallas to Joey Bosa. The former-Ohio State Buckeyes star is said to be an impact player. The Tampa 2 defensive scheme that Rod Marinelli runs requires at least three impact players to be fully successful, so Bosa would be a welcomed addition.
Cedric Thornton isn’t the type of player that’s going to cause fans to flock to the mall to buy his jersey. He might not rack up big numbers and highlights. However, if Thornton goes in and plays his role for the Dallas Cowboys, then that could help them get back to the NFL Playoffs. If that happens, then we should start seeing more and more Thornton jerseys at AT&T Stadium.
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