Going into the draft, heck into the 2013 draft, it was known that the Dallas Cowboys could use a new shot of high-level pass rushing talent on the defensive front. With the second selection of the second round in 2014, the Valley Ranch brain-trust provided just that for Rod Marinelli and Leon Lett to work with. Using the 34th pick (for which they traded their second and third round picks [47 & 78 overall]), the Cowboys chose Boise State right defensive end Demarcus Lawrence.
The former Bronco player was considered by the team's front office as the last elite edge rusher left on the table and they did not hesitate to make a somewhat costly move (according to the draft charts) to secure his services. Considering that the Dallas draft board (and mine as well) had Lawrence graded as a first-round talent, it is easy to see why Jerry Jones and Company were willing to make the deal. Though he was expensive, the newest Cowboy "rushman" is considered to be worth the price they paid. The team has their explosive player to fill the shoes vacated by "that other" DeMarcus.
Let's take a look at why the Cowboys invested two selections in their guy.
6'3" 245 pounds RDE Boise St.
Strategic: An explosive edge rusher, Demarcus Lawrence is a true right defensive end. With the departure of future Hall of Fame pass rusher DeMarcus Ware, this was a position that got elevated from high to urgent on the Dallas list of priorities. Lawrence is a player who was worthy of a late first round selection and with a little bit of experience and coaching at the hands of Rod Marinelli, he will be a stand out impact-making pass rusher for the Cowboys for years to come.
Although it is highly unlikely that he will reach the level of performance that his predecessor achieved, Ware is a once in a generation talent, Lawrence will be the guy his team relies on to be the squad's leading sack artist. He recorded 20 sacks over his two-year tenure at Boise State, and with his skill-set and physical attributes there is no reason why he will not continue to perform at a high level over the next several seasons in Dallas. Add in they type of coaching he will receive and you have a recipe for sustained success. ESPN Cowboys beat writer Todd Archer draws similar conclusions.
With the loss of DeMarcus Ware, the Cowboys needed a right defensive end. They just turned to another Demarcus. Lawrence has speed. He has long arms. He can get around the edge, and he should benefit greatly from the coaching of Rod Marinelli.
While we cannot say that Lawrence will be great from the get-go, he does have the opportunity and ability to be something special. Coming in on the heels of a legend, that is something that the Cowboys need for the future.
Tactical: Of course, with Ware now playing in Denver, the "new" Demarcus will be expected to take over the primary pass rushing duties immediately. With the first-round grade that the Dallas scouting department gave him, it is certain that the team feels that he is ready to do just that. Of the defensive linemen available when the second round began, he was the most NFL-ready prospect, in fact, many experts considered him the second best defensive end behind the top overall selection, Jadeveon Clowney . In many drafts, his abilities would have been considered the top man at his position.
Lawrence will be a difference maker from the moment he steps on the field. The Cowboys are so certain that he is a perfect fit for what they intent to do that, in spite of head coach Jason Garrett's "Right Kind of Guy" approach, the team not only invested a second-round selection on Demarcus Lawrence, they invested their third-rounder as well. After doing their due diligence, the team is convinced that his off the field issues are behind him.
"Our scouts do such a good job with all these players, understanding where they came from and the circumstances behind any incidents they may or may not have," he said. "We are very thorough discussing those things, and we get our arms around them, or else we wouldn’t have them on our board." - Jason Garrett
While I consider the opening round selection of Zack Martin to be a very good one by the team, I gave it a grade of B+, Friday night's choice of Demarcus Lawrence earns the Dallas front office an A from me, even at the cost of the third-round pick. I suspect that new defensive coordinator and defensive line guru Rod Marinelli slept well last night, secure in the knowledge that he has his man for years to come.