Position Series: Defensive line

February, 20, 2011
2/20/11
10:15
AM ET

Players: Stephen Bowen (free agent), Jason Hatcher (free agent), Jay Ratliff (signed through 2012), Josh Brent (signed through 2013), Igor Olshansky (signed through 2012), Marcus Spears (free agent), Sean Lissemore (signed through 2013), Clifton Geathers (free agent), Alex Daniels (free agent)

Top free agents: Shaun Ellis, New York Jets; Ray Edwards, Minnesota Vikings; Haloti Ngata, Baltimore Ravens; Mathias Kiwanuka, New York Giants; Aubrayo Franklin, San Francisco 49ers.

Top draft prospects at defensive tackle: Nick Fairley, Auburn; Marcell Dareus, Alabama; Corey Liuget, Illinois.

Top draft prospects at defensive end: Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson; Robert Quinn, North Carolina; Adrian Clayborn, Iowa.

2010 review: Jay Ratliff reached the Pro Bowl for the third time but didn’t produce the same numbers as last season when he was named All-Pro. But that doesn’t mean Ratliff isn’t a solid player. In fact, he continues to be one of the top linemen in the game and will remain at nose tackle despite speculation he could move to end because of his size -- or lack thereof. Stephen Bowen and Josh Brent saw time because of injuries and were bright spots last season, and Igor Olshansky was a steady presence, as well.

Offseason preview: There are three ends -- Marcus Spears, Jason Hatcher and Bowen -- who are free agents, and the Cowboys can’t keep them all. One thing they need is an end who can get after the quarterback to take some pressure off Ratliff. Hatcher didn’t do enough of that last season when given the chance. Sean Lissemore came on strong toward the end of training camp to earn a spot on the roster, yet an injury didn’t allow the Cowboys to see more of him during the regular season. Alex Daniels impressed the coaches with his work on the scout team, and he’s hopeful to get a chance to make the active roster in 2011.

Need meter: (0 to 5) 4
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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