Page 3 – The best overall positional group is on defense
In my opinion, the best single positional group is on the defensive side of the ball in Dallas. Clearly, the first defender that has to be mentioned is Micah Parsons. The reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year elevates both the linebacker corps and defensive line. Parsons is so good, he’s irreplaceable.
The defensive tackle position is likely better than it has been in years. But the growth (or lack thereof) of its younger players like Bohanna, Odighizuwa, and Trysten Hill will determine if this positional group flourishes, remains average, or takes a step back.
As for the position of defensive end, much of the success of the position will be determined by the play of veteran DeMarcus Lawrence. The two-time Pro Bowler played just seven games last season due to a foot injury and hasn’t recorded double-digit sack totals since 2018. Lawrence will need to lift this positional group alongside Parsons in 2022. Dallas will also attempt to replace the production missing due to the loss of Randy Gregory with some combination of Dorance Armstrong, Dante Fowler Jr., and rookie Sam Williams.
The linebacker position has been strengthened by the signing of free agent Anthony Barr. The four-time Pro Bowler allows the team to be much more flexible with Parsons as a pass rusher when needed. Still, question marks linger when it comes to the play of Leighton Vander Esch and if he can return to the form that made him a Pro Bowler as a rookie in 2018. And overall linebacker depth is also a concern with this essentially being a rookie year for Jabril Cox after an injury red shirt last year.
With the discovery of former USFL MVP KaVontae Turpin as a returner, the Cowboys’ special teams unit might have been considered as a top positional group with punter Bryan Anger coming off a Pro Bowl bid and second-team All-Pro selection in 2021. But the Cowboys struggled to find a consistent kicker this summer and eventually settled with Brett Maher, which dashed those hopes.
That finally brings us to the Dallas secondary, which I believe houses the top two positional groups on the entire Cowboys’ roster. Coming off a first-team All-Pro selection following a season where he recorded a league-leading 11 interceptions, Trevon Diggs leads this talented cornerback group. Anthony Brown might have had the best training camp of any player not named Micah or Dak. And Jourdan Lewis rounds out this starting trio which perfectly balances talent, grit, and experience.
The depth of this cornerback group is solid but should actually be much better than it is. The play of rookie corner DaRon Bland this summer gives the team hope that they have quality depth beyond just the starters. But this group rounds out with the underperforming duo of two of last year’s top draft picks in former second-rounder Kelvin Joseph and third-rounder, Nahshon Wright. Both received plenty of opportunities to shine this summer and seemingly were outperformed by a rookie in Bland. That holds this positional group back a bit, but having two high 2021 draft picks sitting at the end of the bench demonstrates just how talented this group has the potential to be.
In the end, it might surprise Cowboys fans that the safety position in Dallas is the most complete positional group of the entire roster entering the 2022 regular season. And that’s great news considering this is a position the team has often undervalued and underinvested in for years.
The play of Jayron Kearse last season was a revelation. The former 2016 seventh-rounder had the best season of his career in Dallas in 2021, recording 101 total tackles, nine tackles for loss, six quarterback hits, 10 pass deflections and a sack. His elevated play seemed to be the perfect storm of the right player, in the right scheme, with the right team, and under the right defensive coordinator at the exact right time. And while some have questioned whether Kearse can repeat his performance in his second season in Dallas, I for one believe he will continue to thrive.
Joining Kearse in the backfield is former first-round selection, safety Malik Hooker. Selected 15th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft out of Ohio State by the Indianapolis Colts, Hooker missed several games over his first four seasons in the league due to various injuries. Joining the Cowboys in 2022, Hooker played in 15 games, the most he’s ever completed in a single season as a pro. Entering Year Two in Dallas, and coming off a healthy season, Hooker is poised to fulfill the potential he flashed coming out of college.
But beyond Kearse and Hooker, Dallas also has veteran Donovan Wilson on the depth chart. The hard-hitting safety is a dynamic playmaker, headhunter, and fan favorite. Rounding out this stellar group are two young defensive backs who both put up impressive performances this summer and should give fans high hopes about the future of the position in Israel Mukuamu and Markquese Bell. It could be argued that the overall talent of this safety group doesn’t drop as much as others from its two starters all the way to the end of the bench. That makes it the most complete positional group in Dallas from top to bottom.
That’s my opinion on the best positional groups on the Dallas Cowboys’ 2022 roster. What’s your take? Where did I get it right and where did I get it wrong? Leave your choices for the best positional groups in the comment section below and let the debate begin.