Randy Gregory is part of the revamped Dallas D-line. (Getty Images)

After cutting DeMarcus Ware last offseason, the Dallas Cowboys had to make do with a bunch of castoffs and late-round picks along their defensive line for most of the 2014 season. They moved up in the draft to select Boise State's DeMarcus Lawrence in the second, but he was hurt in training camp and missed half the season, which left Dallas depending on players like Tyrone Crawford, Jeremy Mincey, Nick Hayden, Terrell McClain, Henry Melton and George Selvie up front.

That group did an adequate job for the most part (Crawford and Mincey in particular stood out as two-way stalwarts), holding up fine against the run and at least generating some pressure, if not always getting to the quarterback for sacks all that much (Dallas finished with the NFL's fourth-lowest Adjusted Sack Rate, per Football Outsiders). But when it came time to bring the heat on a limping Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs, the line could not get it done. So when the offseason began, the Cowboys clearly had the intent to upgrade the unit.

Fast forward to this week, and the Cowboys have made some major additions. They signed former Pro Bowl defensive end Greg Hardy, who instantly becomes the team's best defensive player the moment his suspension ends and he steps on the field; and they drafted Randy Gregory, considered by many a top-10 talent in the draft, with the 60th overall pick after he fell out of the first round due to concerns about his marijuana use, behavioral problems and potential mental health issues.

Add those two to the now-healthy Lawrence, plus Mincey, Crawford and McClain, and owner Jerry Jones now considers the line a strength, rather than a liability.

"When I look at what we got out of Tyrone Crawford last year on the interior, when I look at how Terrell McClain came along, when I look at the interior, then I actually think that with the personnel we've got competing with them and behind them, I think we got real good inside push or rush that exceeds last year," Jones said, per ESPN. "I look to the outside and I see the numbers we've got. I see the potential to have a rotation. I see the quality or the skill of those pass rushers out there and will say without hesitation we're dramatically better on the outside. Our coach will tell you that is to be seen. We've got to have the work that goes along with it.

"One of the things I like about the players that we're counting on is that all of them are exceptional effort guys, in practice and on the field. When I look at their unique skills as well as effort guys, overachiever types out there, every one of them, then we really have helped our pass rush."

Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli praised the group of returning players.

"We've got a lot of guys back from last year," Marinelli said. "Now we lost some real good men too up front, but the men that are back from Jack Crawford and Mince, some real tough guys, Nick Hayden and Terrell McClain. They were a big part of this thing in terms of developing a toughness and the effort of that group. As we bring more men in and we get some young guys from last year with a chance to display their skill, now it's still about heart."

Jones and Marinelli both had good things to say about Hardy, with Jerry noting that his "zest" is "contagious," and Marinelli saying, "I coach him hard and he reacts hard. And he plays hard every snap out there. That's how I coach him. I want him to get better every day. Every day we walk off this field, he's better."

The Cowboys now have the ability to throw a ton of bodies at their pass rush, very much in keeping with the style Marinelli has developed throughout his career. And on those obvious passing downs late in the season, he'll be able to roll with a front of Lawrence-Hardy-Crawford-Gregory, which is a big step up from last season.