After a relatively “boring” first round, the Dallas Cowboys shook things up right away in the second round, moving up to the 34th overall pick after completing a trade with the Washington Redskins. The teams swapped second-round picks and the Redskins also received the Cowboys third-round pick, 78th overall.
The Cowboys surprised some by using their first-round pick on Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin, but they began addressing what most see as their biggest need, the defense, by selecting defensive end Demarcus Lawrence from Boise State.
Lawrence is a great, natural pass-rusher and the Cowboys likely envision him stepping in to replace another DeMarcus, the departed DeMarcus Ware. Lawrence does have some off-field concerns (three suspensions), but the Cowboys clearly saw the pure talent that Lawrence brings to the table and felt that it outweighed any other concerns, deeming him worthy of two picks. Lawrence led the Mountain West with 10.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss in 2013, and it wouldn’t have been shocking if he was selected in the first round.
He isn’t without his problems, of course. He could stand to get stronger, and at Boise, he was often moved into positions to create the best match-up for him. He’s going to have to learn how to win battles at the line of scrimmage more often in the NFL. His aggressiveness can also work against him at times, and he will overrun some plays. But, with proper coaching, Lawrence could be terrifying opposing quarterbacks for years.
Overall, I very much like the pick, although you could argue that the Cowboys gave up a lot, given all of the holes they currently have. But if Lawrence becomes a perennial double-digit sack monster, it’ll be hard to argue the move.
The second round of the NFL Draft hasn’t been particularly kind to the Cowboys recently. After hitting a home run with linebacker Sean Lee in 2010, they haven’t quite been able to match that level of success. Bruce Carter certainly hasn’t been bad, but most classify him as a disappointment. 2012’s second-round pick was used to move up and select Morris Claiborne, who has struggled with injuries and failed to live up to expectations so far. Last year’s selection, Gavin Escobar, was mostly a non-factor in his rookie season. If the Cowboys are going to contend for a championship anytime soon, they don’t need to hit on a star like Sean Lee EVERY time, but they are going to need to find more starting caliber players in the second round. Hopefully, Lawrence proves to be such.
Although Dallas doesn’t currently have any more picks tonight, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they tried to once again move up, and acquire another selection in the second or third rounds, so don’t tune out yet!