Dallas Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence or “Tank” as he is affectionately called is rated correctly yet he is surrounded by a few players that he has clearly outperformed which I will get to in just a moment.
Fans and some front-office personnel get excited when talking about players and how many sacks they have accumulated yet that only tells part of the story when talking defensive ends.
Tank is unfairly criticized because his sack numbers don’t reflect that of those players in the same monetary compensation category yet Lawrence as a whole is more complete than some of the same players with those gaudy sack numbers.
Last season, Tank was accompanied only by Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald as the only two players who graded in the top ten defensive players in both the run and the pass by ESPN Analytics.
That tells me Tank has not only worked on his pass rush moves but is a very good run defender on a bad run defending team.
Lawrence is rated the same as Cleveland Browns defensive end Jadeveon Clowney who can now officially be called a journeyman. It appears as if Madden and Clowney are still running on those Michigan “hit stick” fumes Clowney had while in college.
Tank had twice as many sacks this year alone as Clowney has had in the previous two years. That statement alone makes me think rating these two the same is more about entertainment than it is about actual football performance.
If you do not agree with me then explain to me how Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt is rated higher than Lawrence even though prior to last season, Tuitt’s best season was racking up 6.5 sacks or exactly the same amount Lawrence had this season in what was considered a “down year” for him.
Tuitt has never made the Pro Bowl yet Tank has two Pro Bowl nods under his belt in the exact same time span. For those of you like me who care about run defense, Lawrence is just one of seven players since 2017 to have a 90.0 grade or higher at the position according to PFF.
It is difficult to compare Tuitt with Lawrence since PFF grades Tuitt as an interior defensive lineman even though he is a 3-4 defensive end. No disrespect to Tuitt but a player like Lawrence who plays a more important position that usually generates better stats should probably have a higher grade.
Tuitt was ranked as the 11th best interior run defender according to PFF but was flanked by T.J Watt, Cameron Heyward, and Bud Dupree as defensive linemates while Tank has dealt with a gap in talent surrounding him to put it nicely.
That is not a knock on Tuitt as I would love for him to play for America’s Team, it just shows that position value looks to only count for those at the very top.