The Cowboys have done well with their first-round picks over the course of last half decade or so. They typically try and get a player that is among the best, if not, the best at his position. It seems that there may be a small militia of Cowboys fans that are ready to revolt if the 28th pick isn’t an edge rusher. All joking aside, their biggest need is defense. However they can find it, the Cowboys know that finding a few playmakers on the defensive side can help them finally get past the divisional round.
The Cowboys have some guys like David Irving and Maliek Collins that should be good to build around. For this exercise, we’ll stick to some first-round edge rushers. Here are a few profiles on some guys and you’ll tell us which one you think fits best.
Taco Charlton, Michigan, 6’5, 272 lbs.
Pros: He does have the initial burst that makes him a candidate for Rod Marinelli. He’s also got size that should put him ahead of the curve. Charlton has a very powerful upper body which can help him win the battle with today’s NFL linemen. He showed improvement with each year and his a motor that doesn’t get worn down.
Cons: Taco has had a problem with over-pursuing and guessing wrong or being late. He can, at times, be susceptible to cut blocks and things he should know to avoid. He also needs to upgrade his arsenal of pass rushing moves (most rookies do) because his spin-move is very predictable.
Takkarist McKinley, UCLA, 6’2, 258 lbs.
Pros: McKinley is quite explosive off the ball with a tremendous first step. He’s very athletic with above average speed. Takk is very good at keeping his balance and has mastered the technique of dipping under the tackle and around the edge. He’s got good awareness and vision with some solid pass rushing moves already developed. Teams should see him as an immediate help on the defensive line if all else checks out.
Cons: McKinley has an injured shoulder that kept him from playing in the Senior Bowl. There is no telling yet how severe the injury is or if he’ll need surgery. He’ll need to add some bulk too as he’s a bit light to be a full-time defensive end.
Charles Harris, Missouri, 6’3, 235 lbs.
Pros: Harris is a high-motor, high-intensity type of player that is a coach’s dream, especially this coach. He’s got a quick first step and plays with a ton of energy. 2015 was his breakout season and this past year he was asked to step out of what he’s best at. He’s a bona fide edge rusher that can capture it and can make himself small around tackles. Harris can really move and he’s got the speed-to-power thing down pat.
Cons: Harris is very light for the position and needs to add some bulk. He’s got some issues with hand fighting and that has to be fixed. He struggled when the defensive scheme changed at Missouri and his production dropped though he is still considered a top edge rusher.
Tim Williams, Alabama, 6’3, 252 lbs.
Pros: You will not find a more explosive rusher off the edge than Williams. His elite quickness and initial burst off the line is unmatched as well. He’s the prototypical quick-twitch athlete that Rod Marinelli covets for his alignment. For his size, he’s remarkably powerful and has heavy hands that stun the offensive tackles he’s up against. He’s about as close to pro-ready as you’ll find and has developed pass rushing technique and moves.
Cons: His rap sheet for problems are extensive and he has a criminal record. He has multiple red flags and was a problem-child for Nick Saban. He was arrested for an unlicensed firearm as well as multiple marijuana issues. He’s got some fixable issues with defending the run but if he can keep his nose clean, the guys will a disruptive presence. Seemingly with Williams, the more you dig, the more he scares you.
Carl Lawson, Auburn, 6’2, 253 lbs.
Pros: A well-built athlete with muscular definition and a strong upper body. Lawson’s a violent attacker on the edge and has some versatility. Carl was very productive this season with 13.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks. He can play with a lot of power and aggressiveness that make him a load to deal with. Lawson is very quick in his burst off the line and has the violent hands to get upfield in a flash. He’s got a powerful motor with a burst that comes in waves as he can win in a multitude of ways.
Cons: He spent the better part of two seasons struggling to stay on the field with ACL and hip injuries. He could stand to add some pounds and his bend is a bit questionable. For as aggressive as he can be, he doesn’t always finish and limited lateral agility.
Vote in the poll then hit the comments and let us know which of these five would be your favorite at pick number 28.