As we all know by now the draft is right around the corner. Also as many people reading this know the Cowboys pass rush is not the greatest. Good thing for the Dallas Cowboys the NFL Draft is loaded with defensive end talent that can possibly turn this mediocre pass rush into one that can finally get them to a NFC Championship game.
For starters the Cowboys play a 4-3 scheme on defense. Meaning they have two defensive ends (a left end and a right end) normally the Cowboys put their better pass rusher on the right side lining up over the opposing teams left tackle and their better run defender on the left side lining up over the opposing teams right tackle. The Cowboys currently have plenty of options that fit perfectly as a left defensive end (Demarcus Lawrence, David Irving, Tyrone Crawford) mainly due to their size, length, and ability to play with power, but what the Cowboys lack is a player that fits in the right defensive end mold perfectly. Charles Tapper fits the right defensive end mold but after missing his entire rookie season due to lingering back issues that is not a guy the Cowboys can rely on quite yet. Randy Gregory also is a guy who fits that RDE mold perfectly due to his speed, length, and his ability to bend but as we all know he will be suspended for the 2017 season unless some big changes happen throughout the league this offseason. The only other player the Cowboys currently have on their roster that fits this description is Benson Mayowa. Mayowa was a solid player for the Cowboys this year leading the team with six sacks but with a need desperately needing a quarterback hunter the Cowboys need a more consistent option. And that’s where the draft comes into play.
So far in my draft study I have ranked by top 15 pass rushers that fit what the Cowboys are looking for. Today I will give you the top five because I think there is a really good chance the Cowboys will be able to land a top five edge rusher in this years draft sitting at 28.
1. Myles Garrett – Texas A&M – Defensive End/OLB
Myles Garrett is the best pure pass rusher to come out since Jadeveon Clowney. Garrett possess ideal length and size as a pass rusher. At 6’5 265 lbs he has the ideal frame to be able to add weight if needed. The Texas A&M stud pass rusher is freakishly athletic for being as big as he is. Garrett’s explosiveness is something you don’t normally see from a man of his size. Garrett is the total package and will likely be gone way before the Cowboys send in their pick but with the ability for NFL teams to trade up in down you never know what could pop into Will McClay’s head on draft night.
2. Tim Williams – Alabama – Defensive End/OLB
Williams is also what you would call a freakish athlete. Williams is the definition of a pass rusher. He’s not great in playing the run but if you’re looking for one guy to get to the quarterback Williams is right up there with Garrett. Williams was just that at Alabama playing more of a pass rush specialist role and man did he play that role well. Williams is a smaller guy at 6’3 252 lbs but plays with much more power than you would expect for a smaller pass rusher. Williams uses his hands well and can win using multiple pass rush moves to be the opposing teams tackle. Now….. he has some baggage. And yes his baggage is a bit concerning. Williams was arrested in 2016 for concealing a gun that he did not have a permit for. There’s was also marijuana in the car but the passenger in the car was charged with the possession of that. So at the end of the day Tim Williams is an explosive and powerful edge rusher that has the potential to be a premier rusher in the league but also has some question marks attached to his name that could keep him from showcasing his talent.. sound familiar?
3. Takkartist McKinley – UCLA – Defensive End
Takk McKinley is my pet cat in this draft. McKinley has a shoulder injury that has been raising a few questions around the league but his skill level is through the roof. In the film I’ve watched Takk is by far the most consistent disruptive edge rusher in the draft. His high motor and ability to convert his blazing speed to impressive power leads to him being around the quarterback what seems like the entire game. Not only is McKinley a force rushing the passer but he’s also a solid run defender as well. McKinley speed is so impressive that at times he seems to get off the ball late and still run right by the tackle. McKinley has good size on him at 6’2 260 lbs along with the size Mckinley has long arms to help fight off blockers in the run and pass game. Mckinley would fit in perfect at the right defensive end position as long as the shoulder injury checks out. Takk Mckinley will blow up the combine.
4. Derrek Barnett – Tennessee – Defensive End
Barnett is probably the most well-rounded defensive end in this bunch besides Garrett. Barnett recently broke the sack record at Tennessee that was held by NFL Hall of Famer Reggie White. Barnett isn’t what you would consider a SPEED rusher but gets the job done just as well. Barnett wins more so with power than with speed but can blow by you as well. Barnett has good size on him and a larger than normal frame. Barnett lacks the explosiveness that the players listed above him have, but wins in other ways that still makes him a very intriguing option at defensive end. Barnett is lower on my ranking than most, but for the Cowboys I’m looking for a guy that can be explosive and bend more so than a guy thay wins with power and a high motor. Either way if the Cowboys select Derek Barnett with the 28th pick in thr draft they are getting a talent to plug in at the defensive end position.
5. Carl Lawson – Auburn – Defensive End/OLB
Lawson has all the tools you could think of when making a pass rusher. Lawsons size is the first thing the pops out at you. Lawson is built like a truck and has the ability to bend to win the edge. Lawson’s ability to convert his speed to power is one of his best traits. If Lawson can translate his college success to the NFL he’d be a great fit here in Dallas for a long time.
As you might notice I left defensive lineman Jonathan Allen and Solomon Thomas off my list. Not because I don’t like the players but because I seem them more as 3-4 scheme ends or 4-3 tackles. Solomon Thomas could potentially play left or right end for the Cowboys but doesn’t possess the type of skill set needed for the Cowboys to start putting pressure on quarterbacks. Allen is in the same category. Allen is in my top five overall prospects but also doesn’t offer much in the speed category. Both Allen and Thomas are fantastic players but fitting them in at defensive end in Rod Marinelli scheme would be a mismatch for both the defense and the players.
Any of my top five players would come in and be immediate starters or play a major role in the defense in their first year barring injury. Getting after the quarterback needs to be at the top of the Cowboys grocery list entering the offseason.
Got a Lot to Say From RVA – Follow me on Twitter- @connorx147