With all the talk of the Dallas Cowboys needing to find a premier pass rusher this offseason, was one actually already drafted last year?
Following the Dallas Cowboys swift exit from the playoffs last season, the top need on the team’s roster was presumed to be an elite edge rusher. In fact, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones made a public declaration this offseason that his team needed a war daddy.
A premier pass rusher who could place constant pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Passers like Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, whose outstanding efforts have ousted the Cowboys from the playoffs twice in the past three seasons.
With that focus in mind, the Cowboys used their first round selection in last month’s NFL Draft to select Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton 28th overall. The 6-foot-6, 272 pound 22-year old is expected to compete for the starting role in Dallas as the team’s top pass rushing option.
But is it possible Dallas actually found their war daddy during last year’s draft? According to one Cowboys insider, fans of America’s Team should not sleep on their 2016 top fourth round selection, Oklahoma’s Charles Tapper.
"“Telling you, do not dismiss Tapper, not at right defensive end, not at left defensive end. This guy has got something,” wrote longtime columnist Mickey Spagnola on DallasCowboys.com. “From what we saw during Tapper’s rookie offseason workouts and that first week or so of training camp, this guy was on his way toward winning a starting job…When I suggested as much to Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli two weeks ago, I got an ‘Oh, yeah’ from him. Loves his ‘get off.’ Knows he has the size, 6-foot-2, 270 pounds, to play defensive end on either side.”"
Coming off the draft last year, one NFL scout allegedly called Tapper the best value selection in the entire class. That mainly due to the fact that the former Sooner ran a 4.59 forty-time at his size and weight. Tapper also recorded a 34-inch vertical, 9-foot-11 broad jump and benched 23 reps at the Scouting Combine.
But that same scout claimed Tapper fell to the Cowboys in the fourth round due to having the sickle cell trait. According to Spagnola, Charles’ tumble down draft boards had to do with him playing out of position at Oklahoma as a 3-4 defensive end. During his senior year, Tapper recorded 50 total tackles, 10.0 tackles for a loss and 7.0 sacks.
Tapper is an athletic freak who it appears could have really helped the Cowboys defense last season. Unfortunately, a pre-existing and undetected back condition forced the 23-year old to spend his entire rookie campaign on Injured Reserve. Now, apparently back to full health, Tapper is expected to compete for a starting defensive end spot against players like Charlton, DeMarcus Lawrence, Benson Mayowa, David Irving and Damontre Moore.
If Tapper is able to play a significant role for the Cowboys defense this year, it would make the team’s 2016 draft class even more special. Four starters have already been culled from last year’s selections. Names like quarterback Dak Prescott, running back Ezekiel Elliott, defensive tackle Maliek Collins and cornerback Anthony Brown.
Throw in the possible impact of players like Tapper, linebacker Jaylon Smith, safety Kavon Frazier and tight end Rico Gathers, and the Dallas Cowboys 2016 draft class could end up being the greatest haul in franchise history.