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John Ridgeway seeks to bring intimidation, energy to Cowboys DL

New Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle John Ridgeway plays with a relentlessness that he hopes to bring with him to Dan Quinn’s emerging defense.

DALLAS — The Dallas Cowboys gave defensive coordinator Dan Quinn another defensive tackle to work with when they selected former Arkansas Razorback John Ridgeway on Day 3 of the 2022 NFL draft.

Ridgeway, a graduate transfer who played at Illinois State from 2017-20 before joining Arkansas, went No. 178 overall in Round 5 to Dallas. At 6-feet, 6 inches tall, 320 pounds, Ridgeway has the physical traits to be a presence along the defensive interior, and he also has the complementary attitude.

“Definitely energetic," Ridgeway described himself on a conference call with reporters after his selection. "I like to run to the ball and just be in the play. They’re going to see the hardest working D-lineman on the field every time. That’s the plan.”

Ridgeway generated 39 combined tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss, and 2.0 sacks for the Hogs through 11 games in 2021. Part of his mentality is to also intimidate the center with penetration while knocking him off the ball.

"If you think about it, the center snaps the ball to the quarterback," Ridgeway explained. "If you can blow him up before he gets a snap off or get him scared and want him to hike the ball quick and get out. Just have to play a mind game on him, get him off his game and make sure to get into the backfield.”

The Cowboys currently have Osa Odighizuwa, Neville Gallimore, Quinton Bohanna, and Trysten Hill on the roster listed as tackles. Dallas also has Carlos Watkins who can play inside and out along the defensive line.

Ridgeway had a chance to show that he belonged among other Power 5 talents playing in the vaunted SEC West. After Arkansas beat Penn State in the Outback Bowl, Ridgeway had another opportunity to showcase his talents and attitude at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., in February.

"It’s a spotlight when you’re going against the top prospects of the draft," said Ridgeway. "It’s a kill-or-be-killed mentality when you’re there. You got to go up there and put your best foot forward."

Coming to the Cowboys as a fifth-round pick, Ridgeway will need to continue to put his best foot forward. The defensive line room is crowded, and reps will be at a premium. So long as Ridgeway is able to stay on the field with his attitude as a driving force, Quinn finds himself another useful tool for sub-packages.

Do you think John Ridgeway will make a name for himself at defensive tackle? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.