Dallas Cowboys: Can Taco Charlton make DeMarcus Lawrence-like jump?

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 30: Kirk Cousins /

The Dallas Cowboys’ defensive line looks like it’s on the rise. Can Taco Charlton make a big enough jump in year two to make it dominant?

The Dallas Cowboys’ defense looks to improve on a productive 2017 season, which saw a breakout year from DeMarcus Lawrence, the beneficiary of the ‘Boys’ 2018 franchise tag designation. With 14.5 sacks, Lawrence established himself as one of the top pass rushers in the NFL.

However, it wasn’t always that way for Lawrence. At least, in year one, where rookie pass rushers, more often than not, struggle to adapt to the speed of the professional game.

Taco Charlton experienced similar growing pains in year one, and like Lawrence, fans questioned his selection following a sub-par rookie year.

However, Lawrence’s injury-plagued rookie year produced zero sacks in seven games. Charlton, at least, has a leg up on him, playing in all 16 games, and garnering three sacks. The rookie defender especially came on during the second half of the season, where he recorded all three of his QB takedowns over the final eight games.

Where Charlton can learn from Lawrence, however, would be in year two. Lawrence recorded eight sacks in his second season in the NFL, and, like Charlton, came on strong in the second half of the season. Lawrence recorded seven of his eight sacks over the last seven games of the 2015 season.

Charlton, in an interview with DallasCowboys.com, talked about facing similar issues as Lawrence in his inaugural NFL season:

"“He had the same climb, the same challenges,” Charlton told the team’s official site. “He’s always said, ‘Just trust the process’ … just seeing what he could do after a couple years in the books and watching film of how he was when he was younger compared to now, I see the strides you make as you keep getting more and more comfortable, learn more things.”"

It wouldn’t be a surprise if Charlton made a similar jump in year two, especially considering he has nine more games under his belt than Lawrence did, along with three more career sacks.

Rod Marinelli is certainly considered a “defensive lineman whisperer” and should get the most out of Charlton in his sophomore year, providing that the young defensive end is ready to put in the work necessary. And if we’re going by games played (16), Charlton still has Lawrence beat in sacks 3-2, within the same amount of contests.

Next: Ranking every top-10 pick in Dallas Cowboys’ history

While they are obviously different players, DeMarcus Lawrence’s career trajectory is clearly a motivating factor for Taco Charlton. And we could be on the cusp of an 8-10 sack year for the second-year player if things go according to plan. However, only time will tell the true story.