The Dallas Cowboys made a trade for defensive end Robert Quinn last week. What does that say about 2017 first rounder Taco Charlton’s status?
When the Dallas Cowboys lost Randy Gregory earlier this offseason to an indefinite suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, defensive end suddenly became the team’s biggest positional need. Gregory posted 6.0 sacks for the Cowboys in 2018, the second highest total on the team.
So the Cowboys made a trade with the Miami Dolphins last week, acquiring 28-year old pass rusher Robert Quinn for a 2020 sixth round selection. Dallas also agreed to pay Quinn a whopping $9.2 million (possibly as much as $10 million with incentives) on a one-year deal.
What Quinn provides is an experienced right defensive end that gives the team insurance in case Gregory is unable to return. But the fact is, Dallas bought their insurance back when they selected Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton 28th overall in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
If Charlton was playing up to his draft status, the Cowboys wouldn’t need a player like Quinn. Entering his third season, Taco should be the starter by now. Unfortunately, the 24-year old is quickly approaching full draft bust status instead.
After a slow start his rookie season, where he posted 19 tackles and 3.0 sacks, Charlton appeared to be preparing to take the next step in his expected development last year. After posting a promising training camp performance, Taco all but disappeared during the regular season. And a shoulder injury robbed the young pass rusher of any chance for redemption.
But the injury wasn’t Charlton’s only issue last season. After missing three games due to his shoulder, the second-year defensive end returned in Week 13 but played just four defensive snaps against New Orleans. The following week, Charlton was a healthy scratch with head coach Jason Garrett explaining that the former high draft selection would have to earn his opportunities as others had played well in Taco’s absence. He’d finish his second year recording 27 tackles and 1.0 sack.
There was a clear message sent to Taco Charlton last season. That message being your draft status can only carry you so far. Now it’s time to perform. And based on the fact the Dallas Cowboys just traded for Robert Quinn, another message is being sent to Charlton. Year Three is very likely a make or break season for the former first rounder.