Vice-president Stephen Jones is pleased with the moves the Cowboys have made during the off season so far, particularly the signings of defensive tackles Henry Melton and Terrell McClain and defensive end Jerome Mincey.
But Jones is not foolish enough to say that the trio makes the Cowboys look better on paper up front than they did a year ago when they were prepared to line up with Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware at end and Jason Hatcher and Jay Ratliff at tackle.
Of course Spencer and Ratliff never played a down for the Cowboys because of injuries and Ware was limited to a career-low six sacks because of injuries.
“When we were sitting here last year we thought we were better because we thought Ware was going to be ware and hatch was going to be Hatch and Spence was going to be Spence and Rat was going to be Rat,” Jones said at the NFL Owner's Meeting in Orlando. “And those were pretty damn good football players before the injuries hit. This time last year, we loved our front because I thought everyone was going to be healthy and back and they didn’t. So I don’t think as much of what we have on campus as to what we had on campus last year if you’re asking that. But as it turns out, do we think we’re going to be (better) because they had injuries and were older, I would certainly hope so.”
Jones also wants it clear that the team’s focus this off season was about improving the team for next year and not just about getting older players and clearing their financial books. He believes the Cowboys have a chance to be better on defense because of the additions and what the team plans to add in the draft partly because he believes they be healthier.
“If we play better on defense, then we should be a better team,” Jones said. “Maybe Mincey and Melton and Mcclain and whoever we draft end up being healthier than those guys, so we end up being better.”
Jones said Mincey and McClain are good solid football players who will improve the team’s depth and contribute like George Selvie and Nick Hayden did a year go. But he acknowledges the team needs a Pro Bowl-type performer mixed in up front to maximize its potential. He thinks Melton can be that type of player.
“We need a few players now mixed in who have some juice,” Jones said. “We’ve got nice, hard playing defensive linemen but Melton can be that juice like Hatch. He can be the same type of guy.”