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Cowboys Analysis: More Dolphins Game Notes + My Wish List for Starting Defense

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At NBC, I broke down a few of the defensive standouts from Sunday night’s game.

J.J. Wilcox looks hesitant.

I loved the pick of J.J. Wilcox because I thought it represented an opportunity to exploit a draft inefficiency; NFL teams prefer big-school players, which they generally should, but they overvalue them in such a way that elite small-school prospects tend to drop too far. Wilcox is admittedly raw, but he also has NFL athleticism and major upside.

We knew Wilcox would have a steep learning curve since he was a running back and wide receiver up until 2012. However, he looked really timid on Sunday night in much the same way as Akwasi Owusu-Ansah during his limited time in Dallas. Wilcox is probably thinking too much on the field, and I’d expect him to pick it up once he feels comfortable with the scheme and can let his athleticism go to work.

George Selvie and Kyle Wilber are easing concerns.

If DeMarcus Ware or Anthony Spencer get injured, the Cowboys could be in trouble. Once Tyrone Crawford went down for the season, Dallas became extremely thin at defensive end, which is a vital position in Monte Kiffin’s defense. Selvie and Wilber, both of whom looked explosive off of the ball against Miami, have at least temporarily eased some concerns in Dallas. Let’s see if they can continue to play at a high level.

And my preferred starting D, posted at Dallas Morning News:

Last week, I suggested a starting offense for the Cowboys. Today, let’s take a look at Monte Kiffin’s defense. Unlike on the offensive side of the ball, there really aren’t too many starting positions up for grabs on D. One of the linebacker spots is potentially available, as is the free safety position.

Defense

DT Jason Hatcher

DT Jay Ratliff

In August of 2012, I predicted that Ratliff’s season would be a poor one. It was even worse than I thought, but many are projecting a bounceback campaign for Ratliff in Kiffin’s 4-3 scheme. I don’t see it. Below, you can see that Ratliff’s production has mirrored that of the typical defensive tackle.

See that major dip in production at age 31? That’s where Ratliff is headed right now. Even in a defense that better fits his skill set, I don’t see Ratliff having a big year. I still think he needs to start the season with the first-team, but there’s a good chance that he either gets injured or is ineffective even if healthy.

DE Anthony Spencer

DE DeMarcus Ware

LB Bruce Carter

LB Sean Lee

Check out the rest.

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