2. Dante Fowler Jr.
Games Started: 40 / Games Played: 91
Career Stats: 200 total tackles, 35 sacks, 44 tackles for loss, 10 forced fumbles, 2 touchdowns, 14 passed defended
Always looking to bring in competition for their roster the Cowboys elected to bring in a player that Dan Quinn knows all the way back from his time with the Florida Gators in Fowler Jr. Now, he has a chance to continue building on their history with the Cowboys.
Heading into training camp, Quinn will be hoping that Fowler Jr. can prove him right. Even though Fowler Jr. is the older man out of the group, he’s got a lot of gas left in the tank.
Fowler Jr. is a very good pass rusher who’s had to deal with injuries over the lifetime of his career which is a shame because coming out of college he had his way with offensive linemen. That’s exactly what the Cowboys need… juice off the edge opposite Lawrence. Fowler Jr’s health will be key to his success and ability to take over the starting right-end spot on this team.
If he can’t stay healthy, the Cowboys’ front office may not see a real reason to keep him on the roster and instead try to find another pass rusher who’s on the roster bubble or has been cut in order to find a better pass rush option.
3. Sam Williams
College Games Played: 35
College Career Stats: 134 total tackles, 22.5 sacks, 32.5 tackles for loss, 6 forced fumbles, 1 interception, 1 touchdown
The real wild card in this whole situation is how Williams will perform at training camp. So far, he hasn’t disappointed. William’s speed and raw athletic ability are off the charts for a guy his size, but that wasn’t really noticed in the past due to the way he was used at Ole Miss.
He wasn’t allowed to use that speed and ability in college. Instead, he was more often than not kicked inside where his speed was still a factor but not in the way the Cowboys envision utilizing it.
Williams has a tall hill to climb in terms of becoming a starter at right defensive end but it isn’t impossible to imagine either. We know that talent at the collegiate level doesn’t always translate to the NFL game for players. He’s going to need to rely on that athletic ability but he’s also going to need to be a sponge, soaking all the information given to him by players and coaches.
If the second-round pick can do that, he will have a better shot at being what the Cowboys think he can be: the future for them at pass rusher. Until then, the only real path for Williams to become a starter would be by way of utter collapse in play from both Armstrong and Fowler Jr.