The Cowboys pass rush is in dire straits. Let's not dance around the elephant in the room. We are all friends here and it would do us all a disservice to pretend like it's not a big problem. The ability to rush the quarterback is monumental if a team expects to have any success in this league. The Cowboys have been lacking this element for years now. The front office has been well aware of it, yet can't remedy it. Over the last couple seasons, the team has made three big investments in effort to improve the pass rush:
2014 - traded up to the 34th overall pick to draft DeMarcus Lawrence.
2015 - signed Greg Hardy to a one-year deal.
2015 - drafted Randy Gregory with the 60th overall pick.
All three of these players had red flags, but it didn't slow the Cowboys down because the team needed a big-time player and each of these guys had the upside to catapult the "Rushmen" into a much stronger unit. But now, only a short time later - these red flags have stalled the progress of the defensive line. The Cowboys coaching staff is done with Hardy as the team has no interest in bringing him back. A couple months ago, we learned that Randy Gregory would be suspended the first four games of the season after a failed drug test. And now, the team's reigning sack leader, DeMarcus Lawrence, is facing a four-game suspension himself for failing a drug test.
When is it going to end?
Well, the sooner the front office stops trying to take short cuts, the sooner us fans can stop being subjected to this ridiculousness. Both Gregory and Lawrence had drug issues in college, which inevitably drove their draft price down far enough that the Cowboys could swoop in and snag them. And Greg Hardy may be full of piss and vinegar, but he started stinking up the locker room. The Cowboys need to take a step back and address this position like they've addressed others where they've had success - pay for it. In recent years, the Cowboys have made great first-round investments by taking high character football players. But then in the second round, they get greedy and turn into riverboat gamblers by trying to steal a dark angel that has fallen. Upside is great, but the Cowboys are absorbing too much of their downside and it's getting them into trouble. Wasted resources are setting this team back. They need to stop getting cute.
The Cowboys have an opportunity to get one of the top college players in next week's draft. Ohio State's Joey Bosa should be right there for the pickings if that is who the Cowboys want. Bosa is a great talent. He had a great season in 2014. And with the Cowboys defensive line in need of some serious help - he could be an easy way to add a great talent to the unit.
But easy can get you into trouble.
He also was suspended the first game of the 2015 season for reasons linked to marijuana. Here is his weaknesses breakdown according to Walter Football.
So what does that mean in the grand scheme of things when it comes to the Cowboys drafting him? It's a flag. Bosa is a pre-draft visitor with the Cowboys so the team will be able to gather their thoughts to properly assess what they think of the Buckeye pass rusher. But keep in mind, Lawrence and Gregory got visits too and the Cowboys weren't able to sniff out the trouble they'd eventually get into. And that's a lot to ask any organization to do, however, if they already have demerits against them before the draft - heed those warnings!
Dallas has been successful when they've targeted the right kind of football players. Leaders. Players that want to play football bad enough to know how to just say no. Nothing was sexy when the Cowboys selected Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, and Byron Jones, yet in a collective six seasons between them - four of them are Pro Bowl seasons. That's sexy to me.
So if you're torn between Joey Bosa and DeForest Buckner, let's just slide the Oregon defensive end ahead of the Buckeye. And if you think it would be a steal to land Noah Spence or Robert Nkemdiche in the second round, you're right. They are a steal. But if you get caught stealing things, you get have to suffer the consequences and right now the Cowboys defensive line is suffering.
Dallas can find great players that play defensive end, but they have to go about it the right way. Talent is important and should always be a principle factor in making their selection, but a player with a good head on their shoulders is important too. You can't finish the fight if you can't finish the season.