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Pass Rush A Top Priority That Cowboys Might Ignore

Giants vs Cowboys

As must of you know by now the Dallas Cowboys currently hold the 28th overall pick in the 2017 Draft. Also, as most of you know upgrading the pass rush is high on the priority list for the Cowboys. However there could be a situation where we enter the 2017-2018 season with the starting defensive line looking very familiar.

For years I (and most of Cowboys Nation) have been screaming for Dallas to throw resources at the defensive end position like they did their offensive line. The Cowboys have not spent a first round pick on a pass rusher since they selected Anthony Spencer with the 26th overall pick in 2007. Since that pick the Cowboys front office has drafted only THREE pass rushers in the top 100 (Demarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, and Tyrone Crawford), this may explain a lot of their problems.
The Dallas Cowboys currently have a crowded defensive line group. Tyrone Crawford (3rd round pick), David Irving (KC-UDFA), Charles Tapper (4th round pick), Demarcus Lawrence (2nd round pick), Benson Mayowa (SEA-UDFA), and Damontre Moore (NYG – 3rd round pick) are players currently on the Cowboys roster that play defensive end also on defensive line the Cowboys have Stephen Paea, Cedric Thornton, Maliek Collins, and Richard Ash who play primarily inside. That gives them 10 total defensive lineman that will likely be brought into training camp before the Draft. To put this number in perspective the Cowboys almost always had a healthy pass rusher inactive come game day when all the “rushmen” were healthy. So when you think of adding AT LEAST one other to that list you have to remember that you can only take 46 players into a game.

In this situation you have to realize that the Cowboys don’t need anymore bodies at defensive end. They need difference makers. They don’t have space in the locker room for anymore mid to late round workout warriors. If Dallas wants to address the defensive line and find that “war daddy” rusher they need to do it in the first round. The Cowboys should have a large selection to choose from at pick 28. Guys like Charles Harris, T.J. Watt, Derek Rivers, and Takk Mckinley are likely to still be available when the Cowboys are on the clock. But with the big need at cornerback still looming in the back of Jerry Jones head will he finally be able to convince the rest of the front office that pass rushers currently under contract aren’t good enough.

Now we must remember that every draft a top talent falls, it’s almost inevitable so stacking defensive end at the top of their board because it’s a position that needs upgrading may not be the smartest thing in the world, but neither is waiting until the mid to late rounds to add a pass rusher. To me if Dallas does not select a pass rusher at 28 and a guy like Derek Rivers, Tyus Bowser, or Tarell Basham are off the board at pick 60 spending a pick on a defensive end who cannot offer much of a contribution right away and adding another body to an already crowded defensive line room may be a pointless pick for a team that has plenty of #2 and #3 rushers but lack the true #1 to really get after opposing quarterbacks.

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  • Lee1936

    Jason Garrett’s JAG defense has only one really good player, and he has been fragile, therefore often unavailable. All the rest struggle to touch NFL average. Every year, several contenders for starting positions are the castoffs from other teams. Marinelli, bless his heart, may secretly wonder what he did, to deserve such a long, monotonous poverty of talent– paucity heaped upon dearth.
    Ponder this. Jeff Heath leads the team in career interceptions. Let that sink in.
    Has any other team tallied fewer QB sacks, since Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware departed?
    JAG = Jason Garrett’s initials.

  • fiverings37

    HUGE mistake if so. Pass rush is a must!

  • Michael

    As you point out, the Cowboys have a logjam at DE and little chance to draft a superior player at 28. But they could get another 3T DT to rotate and pair with Collins. The only 3T they have now is Collins, with Crawford occasionally playing one in the pinch. This is a big hole for a defense that needs pressure from the undertackle. A guy like Caleb Brantley might figure in as a late 1st round target.

    • Connor Livesay

      I like Brantley, I think he could be available at 60. Let me introduce you to Vincent Taylor. 4.5 sacks in 2015, and 7.5 sacks in 2016 ayt Oklahoma State. Big boy. 300+ pounds that is a stout run defender and offers some pass rush capability as well. Would love to see Dallas use two 3 Techniques as their tackles. (similar to what Philly will be doing with Cox/Jernigan.

      • Michael

        Most of the defensive snaps will be from a 4-2-5 nickel alignment so the question becomes which DTs are on the field. Last year they experimented with a 3-3-5 alignment, and I assume this was because they lacked DTs with enough explosiveness to beat their man.

        And I am sure they wouldn’t mind a reason to part with Crawford and his contract. I think they can save 7 million or so if he is a post-June 1st cut. There are many good reasons to go DT in the 1st rather than DE.

        • Taylor

          I want to think someone would be desperate enough to offer a trade for TCraw, but not holding my breath. Bad contract for a very average player. I would like to see a strong interior rotation, it will make the ends better.

          • Michael

            In the right defense he might be worth a late round pick. He has good length and long arms if you are looking for a 2-gap DE who can slide inside as a 1-gap DT on nickel downs. In Dallas he is a man without a position, so a trade could be a nice solution for everyone.

          • Steven Van Over

            Crawford isn’t a “splash” player but is much more valuable than his (lack of) sack stats illustrates. His versatility is huge on game day. You’re spot on in regards to him being over paid however. Locking him up worked with Sandrick, not so much with Crawford.

        • Steven Van Over

          They aren’t going to cut Crawford

    • paul karam

      I thought one of the writers on this site said Thornton could play either tackle spot. Anyone, am I wrong?

      • Michael

        He can but it isn’t his best position. He is more of a 1T than a 3T.

      • Daniel Bollman

        Irving can play the 3T

  • Kevin Black

    Good advice, but there’s one caveat: It’s rare that ANY pass rushing defensive end makes ANY kind of impact in the NFL. The exceptions are usually the blue chippers, like Garrett this year and Bosa last year, or a player people undervalued like Yannick Ngakoue that was drafted in the 4th. So, based on that, getting a pass rushing DE that will make any kind of impact this year is folly and we should look for that diamond everyone else is missing later in the draft. You won’t get a War Daddy any other way based on history. So, does that mean we should focus on other positions at 28? Assuming we are using history as a basis as an indicator of what this draft will produce.

    • Taylor

      So, Charles Haley, DWare, et al, just on the Cowboys, had no impact? On defense, a man-eating, pass rushing beast at DE is the guy who disrupts game plans and breaks games.

      • McShrek

        Wisdom right there……..

      • Michael

        I didn’t read Kevin this way at all. I think he is being realistic about the kind of player the Cowboys can expect to draft at 28, knowing the blue chip 4-3 DEs will be gone before the Cowboys pick.

        If the Cowboys were set on a man-eating DE the time to draft one was last season when they had the #4 pick. This year, they won’t have a chance at a blue chip DE.

        • Daniel Bollman

          Bosa went at #3. McKinley, Watt or Harris could all be there at 28, plus the kid from Auburn

          • Michael

            They could have made a deal with San Diego if they wanted him badly enough. Though a trade down would have found Sheldon Rankins or Shaq Lawson plus an additional pick.

            The first round DE I like, if he lasts that long, is Taco Charlton. He has build of a strongside 4-3 DE with long arms and heavy hands.

          • Daniel Bollman

            With the draft they had last year, i’m glad they did not give up a pick to move up. Charlton is a strongside DE, I think getting the pass rusher to play the other side is the main concern. Can’t have a great defense without that guy.

          • Michael

            I have the opposite thought. I think it is much harder to find a strongside DE who can set the edge in the run game and provide some rush. There just aren’t many humans on the planet with the combination of size, strength, and athletic ability it takes on the strongside. For some positions, I think the planet theory is correct.

          • Daniel Bollman

            I really have to disagree with you on that. Dallas has 3 guys in Lawrence, Crawford and Irving that can play strong side. Gregory is the only true weakside they have and if not for testing positive at the combine, he would have been drafted in top 10-15 picks. That’s where you have to pick those guys.

          • Michael

            They also have Mayowa. And I like Lawrence on the weakside. He isn’t a speed guy but he can bend the corner with the best of them.

            The problem, in my view, with guys like Gregory is that their athleticism comes at the expense of strength. If he had to play off the LOS as an OLB, I would think twice. But any weakside DE in the Dallas scheme has to set the edge on run plays much of the time and they need a certain size and strength to do so.

      • Kevin Black

        Charles Haley was a 4th round pick of the SF 49ers, not a first. Even DWare, a top 11 pick, did not get double-digit sacks his first year. You can’t make the assumption that you WILL get one at 28. Not saying you can’t, but the odds are so far against you, it’s nuts.

        • Taylor

          You said ANY de makes ANY impact. No qualifiers, not just in this draft etc. Again, a beast pass rushing DE has a huge impact. Can we get one this year? Maybe, maybe not, but we have to try, and the closest we’re going to come to a blue chipper is at 28 (barring a trade).

          • Kevin Black

            My mistake. I could have sworn I finished the line with ‘in their first year’.

          • Taylor

            No problem, the last phrase makes a huge difference.

          • Kevin Black

            Yeah. Sometimes my head is going faster than my fingers. Need a better transmission between the two.

          • paul karam

            I think Kevin meant a DE in their rookie year would not make that much of an impact.