Oct.13, 2012; Boise,ID, USA; Boise State Broncos defensive lineman Demarcus Lawrence (8) forces Fresno State Bulldogs quarterback Derek Carr (4) to fumble the ball during second half action at Bronco Stadium. Boise State defeated Fresno State 20-10. Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys Draft Fails To Produce One Single Defensive Starter


Everyone and their mother knew what the Dallas Cowboys biggest need was going into the 2014 NFL Draft. Defense. The Cowboys ranked last in total defense in the NFL last year. Yet, at the end of the draft this weekend, the Cowboys seemingly came away from the event without a single defensive starter. If that’s true, how can anyone look upon this draft as a success from a “need” stand point?

The biggest crossroads for argument will be the development of second round pick, Boise State defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. Despite the trade for the pass rusher that cost Dallas their second and third round picks, most fans believed the team found a difference-making edge rusher in Lawrence. But it now appears the Cowboys coaching staff believes the rookie will actually start the regular season as a back-up to defensive ends Anthony Spencer and George Selvie.

“As long as he does what we drafted him for then we got great value for him.” McClay on Lawrence
If this is true, it means the Cowboys came away from this draft without a single defensive starter. And that fact alone is sadly laughable. The Cowboys have already admitted their fourth round selection, Iowa linebacker Anthony Hitchens, was drafted as a back-up for often-injured middle linebacker Sean Lee. And despite every seventh round pick, all five of them, being defensive players; it’s unlikely any of those prospects will become starters in 2014.

A positive point that should be made here is current defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli’s scheme involves frequent substitutions. That fact actually lessens the importance placed on starters and focuses more on stamina, motor and drive. We all know the wonders Marinelli can do with motivation. And he’ll need to work his magic again this season to pull this group out of the NFL doldrums.

During an interview with On Air with DC Star on Wednesday, Cowboys assistant director of player personnel Will McClay was asked if Lawrence was a type of first round player who can come in Day One, start and contribute to this football team this year:

“Yes. That’s the reason why he was picked there. I’ve seen some things where people have said ‘well, he’s a designated pass rusher or this or that’. Really, with the amount of passing that’s in the NFL right now, and the way that we’re going to play defense, it’s important to play fast, to play physical, and get after the passer. So whether this guy starts and plays 60 plays a game, which we don’t plan on doing, or he plays 30 to 40 plays a game as he gets into learning the NFL game, as long as he does what we drafted him for then we got great value for him.”

Although McClay initially supports the idea that Lawrence was drafted as a starter, he backs off that statement saying they don’t plan on playing him in that role. But how can this draft be seen as anything more than a bust if the Cowboys failed to address their biggest need? If they failed to get one single defensive starter in 2014?  It appears the answer to that question falls squarely on the shoulders of one single second round rookie. Would you expect anything less in Dallas?

Did The Dallas Cowboys Overpay To Draft Demarcus Lawrence?

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Tags: 2014 NFL Draft Dallas Cowboys Demarcus Lawrence Featured Popular Will McClay

  • David

    The Cowboys are going to have a rotation of 8 to 9 guys on the D-line. So saying he is not a starter is not that important. He will be in the rotation mix and if he rushes the passer like they think he will Im sure his snaps will increase eventually. But I see your rationale here. Personally I would have liked them to go Pryor, Kony the Turner. I think that would have added better value. Now I do love Martin though and think he will be a future pro bowler.

  • PaulTX

    I think he will be in the game on every passing down or every down Marinelli believes the offense is calling a pass play. The idea is that he is a pure pass rusher. I bet he gets moved around a lot to make the best match ups, but to say he is not a starter may not be completely accurate. The same would have been true for Barr or Dee Ford. Marinelli has some idea for what a RDE should be, and it’s not a run stopper.

  • mitch Monteith

    Steven Mullenax trying to create FALSE controversy. This author FAILS to PRODUCE one accurate sentence. What a DUD!!!

  • Keith Ranson

    Not ONE Defensive Starter?

  • true cowboys fan

    All that matters is that the defense is better then last year and if you really look at it how could it not be just having less injuries will improve the defense and with Rod Marinelli rotating these guys in and out and keeping them fresh being a starter MAYBE wont be such a big deal GO COWBOYS ! ! True Cowboys Fan for Life

  • Hippy

    Steven is a douche bag

  • Bill Smith

    Let’s look in a couple of years how this draft pans out, is Martin and Lawrence better than Manziel, Ealy and Turner, the Three players Stephen Jones said he Would of taken if they didnt move Up in Round 2 for Demarcus..This kid better be great.

  • Jack Farguson

    Mitch you said it right. False controversy! The reason he is expected to be a starter, but may not actually start is because they will be substituting to keep players fresh. A dedicated Pass rusher will probably be saved for 2nd and 3rd downs. These guys are just armchair quarterbacks trying to get their blog read!

  • Alfredo Martinez

    to me, great draft for Dallas Cowboys in his first 2 picks: ZACH MARTIN and DEMARCUS LAWRENCE immediately make this team better….ZACH MARTIN is a top 10 talent and DEMARCUS LAWRENCE is a 1st round grade talent….in this order of ideas, the Cowboys pay a 2nd and a 3rd for a first round talent…..2 game changers players for both side lines of the ball…..EXCELL move…..

  • ctcowboy1968

    Being on the field for the first play of the game does not matter. Waves of fresh players, defensive stops, victories are what matter. Defensive line is all about rotation. It’s not like OL which is the same players for every snap.

  • Mike Tobin

    This is the dumbest post draft article I’ve seen this year. For one, in the draft every team is bringing in college talent who have never played an NFL down and there are no guarantee’s even that a top 10 pick is going to be starter in their first year. For two, this writer must have no clue about the Dallas Cowboys defensive coaches and their defensive strategy. Starters in this defense are overrated since the whole philosophy is sending waves of players that are fresh after opposing offenses. The whole point is to create depth and competition along the line that goes a several layers deep. And lastly, is this guy saying that a healthy Selvie, Melton, Spencer, and maybe Crawford would be a bad attempt at a starting line? Dumb article.