It’s official. The Cowboys have signed defensive tackle Henry Melton to a one year deal, with a three year option. So what does it mean? What kind of player is Dallas getting? Today, we are going to take a look at Melton’s tape, specifically from 2012 when he was being coached by current Cowboy’s defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
If you haven’t seen or heard of Henry Melton, this is what you need to know. Melton was a fourth round pick out of Texas for the Chicago Bears in 2009. In college, Melton was a backup defensive end and a fullback for the team. But the Bears saw potential in him as a penetrating three-technique defensive tackle. In 2012, Henry Melton made his first Pro-Bowl when he was being coached by then Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. He recorded 32 tackles and six sacks, and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ seventh best defensive tackle.
But in 2013, Melton tore his ACL in the fourth game and was lost for the season. But even before he suffered his injury, he wasn’t the same player as he was in 2012. Was it just due to the loss of Coach Marinelli? This seems to be what the Cowboys are banking on. Melton was also arrested in 2013 for public intoxication and assault. The Cowboys dug deep into both the knee injury and the arrest and felt both issues were behind him.
When I watch Henry Melton on tape, it is quite obvious that he is a fantastic athlete. But after comparing him to some of the best penetrating defensive tackles in the league, I was shocked to see how he athletic he really was. Take a look:
Granted, when Melton came out of school, he was lighter than he is now. He weighed between 275-280 pounds while in college. Currently, Melton weighs somewhere between 295-300 pounds and the Cowboys would like for him to be no heavier than 295 so that he can maintain his elite quickness.
What Melton provides is the ability to win with quickness, whether that be by getting up-field quickly or on a stunt. Below is a play from 2012 against Dallas in which Melton wins by setting up his defender with a quick step inside and then finishing the play by executing the stunt and beating Tyron Smith to the edge.
The Cowboys will be able to use Melton in a variety of ways in 2014. And his ability to be used as a stunt-player may be one of his best attributes. Melton can be disruption anywhere across the defensive line, but I noticed he is especially dangerous when he can use his god-given athleticism to get to the quarterback.
When Melton can use his elite athleticism to get to the quarterback, that’s when he is at his best. But when the Cowboys signed Henry Melton, they were also getting a good run defender. Check out another play from 2012 in which he demonstrates that ability.
Melton can also be an elite run-stopper, if and when he wants to be. In 2012, we saw that he can shed blocks and make some spectacular tackles. The one above is an example of that. He is able to stack his defender (meaning that he doesn’t get moved off the ball and is able to watch the ball carrier) and then bring down the running back with one arm for no gain.
Cowboy fans should be excited about the Melton signing for a number of reasons. They are getting younger on the defensive line and potentially getting better also. Dallas Cowboys fans can rejoice in the fact that they finally have an exciting three-technique.