Wednesday afternoon in Oxnard, I had a very interesting conversation with new Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. Marinelli, who was the Cowboys defensive line coach in 2013, is widely considered to be one of the best DL coaches in the NFL.
With (then healthy) rookie defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence on the front-burner, I asked Rod what the biggest obstacle is for a first-year player trying to make an immediate impact in the NFL on the defensive line.
"That's easy," he said, smiling. "You have to forget everything from college. None of that will work here."
He also stressed to me the importance of quick hands for a defensive lineman (he said Henry Melton was incredible at this), and was quick to point out that hand quickness was much like a golf swing:
"You'll lose (that quickness) if you don't work on it every day," he said. "It's not like riding a bike."
But the most interesting thing I learned from Marinelli in our chat (really, it was an educational conversation) was about the importance of pass rushers looking the exact same coming off the ball.
"You want it to be like a baseball pitcher," he said. "You throw the fastball, fastball, and then, whoops, here comes the change-up, but it looks the exact same coming out of the hand. That's the goal when facing a pass blocker."
Marinelli believes the Cowboys' strength this season will be in numbers. Dallas is considering carrying as many as ten defensive linemen to keep players fresh as it tries to improve its pass rush from ranking 25th in the NFL in sacks in 2013.