We all know that perhaps the weakest link on the entire Dallas Cowboys roster is at pass rusher. They have taken some small steps to rectify the issue. The Cowboys poached Benson Mayowa, a restricted defensive end for the Oakland Raiders. They also re-signed Jack Crawford, though he projects better as a backup for Tyrone Crawford. They even signed an athletic one-technique defensive tackle away from their hated rival in Cedric Thornton.
However, with DeMarcus Lawrence being the only pass rusher that even resembles an elite edge guy, and he's coming off herniated disk surgery, something has to be done at defensive end. You can go ahead and couple that with the fact that Randy Gregory will be suspended the first four games of the season and is one blip away from missing ten games. Needless to say, Dallas has a problem on their hands. This is where the draft comes into play.
We know that you're not likely to find a stud pass rusher in this draft and that history suggests expecting high production is only going to bring on the tears. Yet, the Cowboys need to do something and drafting a young guy is their only hope right now. So, we'll revisit some of the big names and you tell us how you want to get your rusher.
Draft Joey Bosa or DeForest Buckner at 4th overall
Bosa- Not a quick-twitch pass rusher that typically finds his way to the Rod Marinelli defense, but he's a consistent high-motor, high-effort player. Most gurus have pointed out that though Joey Bosa will significantly upgrade any defensive line, he's not likely to be a double-digit sack artist. Yet, Bosa wins with his strength and does a great job opening up the lanes for the others to take advantage of. He also can be moved inside on third downs and rush from there. He's a guy with a low ceiling but high floor and seems to be right at his best as we speak. He may not have a ton of upside, but he has yet to be removed as the consensus best defensive end in the draft. He's already been worked out by the Cowboys coaching staff and has a visit with them, too. He would fit the Cowboys as a player that is disruptive and most importantly ready to contribute immediately.
Buckner- He's a little different because most folks project him as a three-technique in the 4-3 scheme but I don't see that so much. Buckner is all about his heavy-hands and power much like his former teammate Arik Armstead. Yes, he's a mammoth athlete and he also dominated at Oregon with 10.5 sack last season. He's built like a tree and those long limbs are important for pass rushers. Marinelli will likely love that he's got all the traits you want with tremendous upside. One NFL exec was quoted as saying this is what you want to build a pass rusher out of. He may not be as Pro-ready as Bosa at this point but Buckner would find a role rather quickly in this defense.
Trade back for Shaq Lawson or Noah Spence, add more picks
Lawson- What the Cowboys are going to like about Lawson is that he's a finisher. He's got a good mix of speed and power and is stout against the run. More than a guy that can play inside on third downs, the Cowboys really want someone that can come off the edge and make an immediate impact. This is what you get with a guy like Lawson. He's a smart player too and takes very well to coaching. In a trade back scenario, Lawson would give the Cowboys a more polished worker with some speed that the Cowboys covet. He's a good kid with his head on his shoulders and has faced tragedy in his life and kept pushing forward. He's a hard-nosed, blue-collar type worker and someone that overachieves at every level of his game.
Spence- Here is a familiar story, numerous failed drug tests got him kicked out of a big program in Ohio State. However, he has taken ownership of his past issues in every interaction and hasn't been a problem since transferring to Eastern Kentucky. He's widely considered the best overall pass rusher in this draft for his ability to seal the edge and play small around corners to get by the tackles and make the play. He dominated for the Buckeyes and then did so again for the Colonels. His motor is outstanding, which is a necessity for the Cowboys. Spence may fit the Cowboys more than any other pass rusher in the draft, but it comes with a caveat. the same type of caveat that Gregory came with. Lots of teams are cautious, but this is Ecstacy we're talking about, it seems more like he loved to party than he had an addiction. He's been squeaky clean since then and his interviews will determine where he ends up going.
Pick Jonathan Bullard or Emmanuel Ogbah if there at 34, draft more DE's later like Matt Judon or Ronald Blair
Bullard- Dallas would like him primarily as a run defender, he needs extra help to rush consistently. However, he's earned the right to be considered a bottom-first, early-second round guy. Most draftniks see him more as a left end, but he does have production as a pass rusher. The Cowboys will likely want more of a speed rusher, I'm not sure that Bullard is that guy. He can seal off the edge due to his ability to anchor and keep containment. Bullard is not a guy that's going to grab double-digit sacks but he just does a lot more than you can often see. He's a blue-collar player that pushes linemen into laps and lets others around him benefit.
Ogbah- He's garnering attention lately as people are going back to his tape. What you get is probably the best pass rusher when it comes to converting speed and power. He's had two strong showings against some of the nation's top offensive linemen in Cody Whitehair and La'Raven Clark. He's just an all-around disruptive player though he is still learning the position every day. Ogbah needs to work on his explosiveness because it is there, he just needs to make it more consistent. He would be more of a project for the coaches but the ability is there. Like many pass rushers in the draft, Ogbah has versatility. The Cowboys want a player that attacks the linemen and gets up the field as fast as possible. The hope will be that Ogbah can do that.
Blair- Not a lot more that we can say that hasn't already been said about Blair, who burst onto the Cowboys' landscape thanks to the Draft Show. Blair is a super productive prospect with some polished pass rushing skill whose stock has continuously risen over the last weeks and months. Some are of the belief that Blair may translate better as an interior rusher but he's got the production that would say otherwise. As a small-school prospect, Blair will have to show early that he belongs in the NFL. He's going to get drafted on his Clemson tape alone. Blair, along with Judon, is one of the last guys with all the traits. However, it'll take Marinelli magic to develop him into a consistent rusher in the NFL.
Judon- Another guy who burst onto the scene and became a BTB favorite after my guys O.C.C., Ryan Ratty and the Duckman have all written about him. Again, we're talking about a guy who dominated his competition, but it was in DII Football. Judon has the speed and power that Marinelli wants but he needs a lot of work in technique. He fits the Cowboys in the most basic ways; he can rush the passer with consistency. Can he do it at this level? That remains to be seen but he's shooting up the boards right now based on what he's good at and that's getting quarterbacks down. Marinelli and Lett can certainly get behind that.
So, what gives? How do you want your rushers Cowboys Nation?