Three days into the National Football League free agency period, hardly a peep was heard from the Dallas Cowboys. They re-signed some of their own such as defensive tackle Antwaun Woods, and cornerback Jourdan Lewis. In addition, Jake McQuaide and Ty Nsekhe were added to the special teams and offense. However, after having one of the most porous defenses in the league last season, Cowboys’ faithful were looking for big moves to enhance that side of the ball.
Finally on day four of the free agency period, the Cowboys secured an addition for the defense by agreeing to terms with Carlos Watkins, a 27-year-old defensive tackles who has played four seasons with the Houston Texans. This is a solid acquisition to help the interior of the defensive line. It’s not one of those earth-shattering moves that will make national headline, however Watkins adds much needed depth.
A fourth-round draft pick out of Clemson in 2017, the 6’ 3” Watkins recorded 13 tackles as a freshman in 2012. His 2013 ended after just three games due to a car crash that caused blood clots in his legs. He came into his own in 2015, recording 34 tackles and 3.5 sacks, earning All-ACC honors. Watkins recorded six tackles in the 2017 National Championship game against Clemson.
In 42 games with the Texans, Watkins has 69 tackles and four sacks. Last season, Watkins started 11 games, seeing his most significant action since turning professional. Watkins received a lower defensive grade from PFF than the other tackles on the Cowboys’ roster from last season. However, the Cowboys could believe that he’s a better fit for their 4-3 defensive scheme than the Texans’ 3-4 scheme in 2020.
The rationale in signing Watkins appears to be that Dallas sees him as a complimentary piece on the interior. Considering that they tendered Antwaun Woods, they have now made two moves to help one of the squad’s biggest areas of weakness. Time will tell if Watkins will make a significant impact for the Cowboys or is just another body adding depth.