Dominant Pass Rushers
When your team leader in sacks finishes the season with only 6.0, there is a strong possibility that you lack a consistent pass rusher.
Unfortunately, since the significant injuries to DeMarcus Ware in 2013 (which led to the Cowboys releasing him), the Cowboys have not had a dynamic edge rusher that strikes fear into the hearts of quarterbacks and coaches across the league.
Dallas has tried big name free agent acquisitions like Greg Hardy. Hardy was a terrible teammate and gave up on the Cowboys in 2015 after they lost in New York. He was a risk/reward move that didn’t pan out. It happens.
They have tried under the radar signings like Benson Mayowa. Mayowa did lead the team in sacks with 6.0 this season but that isn’t enough to scare defenses. Some teams have edge rushers that can get close to six sacks in a game.
They have tried drafting an elite weak side defensive end to be the disruptive force necessary for the Tampa 2 defense to be at its best in the form of DeMarcus Lawrence; Lawrence is now undergoing his second back surgery at the young age of 24 and has been riddled with injuries and has been far from a game-changer in the action he has seen. He has been at his best at the strong side defensive end position, and led the team in sacks in 2015. I wouldn’t count on Lawrence being the dominant pass rusher Cowboys fans have been waiting for.
Another risk/reward move that has burned the Cowboys to this point was drafting Randy Gregory in the second round of the 2015 draft. Randy seems to enjoy cannabis more than playing football and if you want to be part of something special in the NFL, it has to be your passion. Not sure we will ever see an elite Randy Gregory because his love for the game isn’t there.
There is the slightest chance that defensive end Charles Tapper, a fourth round pick out of Oklahoma in 2016, can become the elite disruptive force that this team needs. He missed all of 2016 with a strange fracture in his back that he had been living with and had strange paralysis-type issues after a training camp practice. Hopefully he is ready like the team has claimed they expect him to be for the upcoming season.
It is unlikely that Dallas is able to select any of the top three edge rushers in the 2017 NFL Draft-Myles Garrett out of Texas A&M, Tennessee’s Derek Barnett, and Solomon Davis from Stanford without trading away an awful lot to move up 20 or more spots in the first round.
Luckily for the Cowboys, this year’s draft is ridiculously deep at the defensive end position and there will be plenty of quality players to choose from in the first few rounds, as well as a couple of sleepers later on in the draft.