According to media reports, the Cowboys on Friday agreed to trade a 2021 seventh-round pick to the Houston Texans in exchange for defensive tackle Eli Ankou. The team has yet to announce the deal nor its terms, which cannot become official until Monday, one day before the NFL trade deadline.
“Ankou expected to begin COVID-19 testing in interim. Can drive from Houston, join Cowboys next week,” Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News reported.
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This is the fourth personnel transaction executed by the Cowboys in three days as Jones aims to stay in contention. On Tuesday, the team traded Pro Bowl defensive end Everson Griffen to the Detroit Lions for a conditional 2021 sixth-round choice. On Wednesday, they released nose tackle Dontari Poe and defensive back Daryl Worley.
“The facts are that fundamentally, we’re not stopping the run and when you don’t do that, then a lot of other things come in behind that as to what you are lacking. But we got to correct this,” Jones said Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan. “We got to correct it. We’ll change some personnel for sure. We just to step in here and make adjustments. That’s what you do.”
Ankou, 26, 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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Role in Dallas
This is the immediate replacement for Poe, who was extremely ineffective manning the nose over the first seven weeks. Once he completes COVID-19 testing, Ankou will join 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.
Ankou’s addition is a desperately needed reinforcement to the league’s worst run defense, which surrenders an egregious 178.3 ground yards per game, gashed by literally any opposing back. He figures to suit up in Week 9, when first eligible, for Dallas’ home meeting with ex-Pro Bowl RB James Conner and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL