Trade Details Unveiled for New Cowboys Defensive ‘Anchor’

Eli Ankou

Getty Eli Ankou

When the Dallas Cowboys agreed to acquire defensive tackle Eli Ankou from the Houston Texans last week, terms of the reported compensation were not made publicly available.

That changed Monday when the Cowboys officially announced the deal in which they surrendered a 2022 seventh-round draft selection for the 325-pound run-plugger.

“He can set an anchor. I think he’ll really fit our run defense,” head coach Mike McCarthy said, via The Athletic.

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The Dallas Morning News reports Ankou, who arrived in town Saturday, is slated to take part in his first full-scale Cowboys practice on Thursday, assuming he clears requisite COVID-19 testing.

His acquisition is the second trade executed by the team ahead of Tuesday’s 3 p.m. CT deadline. Last Tuesday, they sent Pro Bowl defensive end Everson Griffen to the Detroit Lions in exchange for a 2021 sixth-round selection.

Cowboys VP Stephen Jones indicated in a Monday radio interview that he has no blockbusters planned — neither buyers nor sellers — before the deadline expires.

“We’re basically in a mode if something came to us and it made a lot of sense then we’ll look at it,” Jones said Monday on 105.3 The Fan.

Refresher on Ankou

The 26-year-old defender entered the NFL in 2017 as an undrafted free agent, originally signed by the Texans. Released at final cuts, he spent his rookie campaign and the following season with the Jacksonville Jaguars, tallying 10 solo tackles and 1.5 sacks across 11 games.

The Cleveland Browns signed Ankou off the Jaguars’ practice squad in 2019. He made nine starts for Cleveland last year, logging seven total tackles (five solo) and earning a solid 71.9 tackling grade from Pro Football Focus as a primary run-plugger.

Ankou was waived by Cleveland last month and had a cup of coffee with the Indianapolis Colts and again with the Texans, who claimed him off waivers on Oct. 19.

A native of Canada, Ankou (6-3, 325) played his college ball at UCLA, where he made 91 total stops (49 solo), eight tackles-for-loss, three pass breakups, 1.5 sacks, and one fumble recovery across 29 games from 2013-16.

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Projected Role

Ankou steps in as the immediate if short-term replacement for now-former NT Dontari Poe, released last week along with defensive back Daryl Worley. A hyped offseason signing, Poe was glaringly ineffective in his role, largely responsible for Dallas’ league-worst mark against the run (170.9 yards per game allowed).

Ankou joins a stable of DTs led by third-round rookie Neville Gallimore, 2019 starting NT Antwaun Woods, and former Chief Justin Hamilton, who’s impressed the coaching staff at points this season.

There’s a chance he’s active Sunday when the 2-6 Cowboys host the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers and former Pro Bowl running back James Conner, the NFL’s tenth-leading rusher.

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL