Cowboys fans watched as the first 21 picks went by with a handful of edge rushers still on the board. But then Charles Harris was taken at 22 and then as The Cool One mentioned yesterday, the Atlanta Falcons traded up to jump ahead of the Cowboys to take Takkarist McKinley at 26. But the Cowboys war room didn’t waver. They were excited when Michigan’s Taco Charlton was still on the board at 28 and made him their first-round selection.
Standing at 6’6” and 277 pounds, the Wolverine defensive end has a lot size. With 10 sacks last year, he broke onto the scene as one of the better pass rushers in college. With Dallas needing help creating a pass rush, Charlton gives the team a strong option for Rod Marinelli to work into the rotation. He is explosive off the snap with a deadly spin move that will give tackles fits. While he still needs to develop his pass rushing arsenal, he’s got a lot of potential and finally gives the Cowboys a first-round resource to throw at rushing the quarterback.
It’s a bitter sweet pick. He’s not one of the favorite names being passed around the BTB community, but he’s still one of the better defensive ends in the draft and addressing one of the team’s biggest need over the last several years. And while we have our own personal feelings about certain players, the Cowboys sure love him. According to the phone conversation between Jerry Jones and Taco, this is a pick that Jason Garrett has been advocating all day.
Here is the scouting report from Lance Zierlein of NFL.com
Rare combination of size, length and athletic traits as a rusher. Long-levered frame with athletic, knotted calves. Brings freaky athletic traits to table and is still growing into his body. Flashes instant reaction time off snap and up the field thanks to his twitch. Has enough upfield juice to push offensive tackles into hasty retreat. Generates pop through speed-to-power element. Very good flexibility throughout. Able to sink and swerve around corner if he gets early lead in race to the edge. Possesses hip swivel combined with shoulder turn to slip and flip around the corner of an offensive tackle he's engaged with as a pass rusher. Rushes with forward lean that keeps his momentum downhill. Uses rip-and-stab move and an ominous spin move that could turn into a dominant rush trait in the NFL. Elongated lateral slides can open into sprint very quickly to chase run play bouncing outside. Length gives him a shot at dramatically increasing his play-making ability against the run. Hand usage is improving.
Despite talent and traits, production and overall play has been uneven at Michigan. Earned full-time starting nod in just his final season. Needs more weight-room work. Consistency of anchor at point of attack in question. Can be rooted out of his gap by power. Can do better job of using his length to keep blockers off of him. Doesn't make enough plays on other side of the line against run. Needs to show a nastier play demeanor at all times. Scouts question whether he has enough toughness for trench battles if bumped inside or to 5-technique. Held back by his inconsistent play speed. Excessive leaning and narrowing of his base during the play causes balance and footwork inconsistencies. Needs better readiness to take on move blockers.
Here is the scouting report from Dane Brugler of CBS.com
STRENGTHS: Passes the eye test with a moldable NFL frame and long arms. Powerful upper body and uses his reach to extend and put blockers on skates. Heavy hands to control the edge and quickly reset his eyes to find the ballcarrier. Expanded his pass rush diversity as a senior, forcing holding penalties with his combination of upper body violence and lower body agility. Initial burst to win gaps and force his way through the shoulder of the offensive tackle. Continued effort from snap to whistle, showing sustained hustle in pursuit. Endures, doesn't wear down and can be an every-down player. Showed gradual improvement the past four seasons, finishing strong as a senior.
WEAKNESSES: Allows his pad level to rise and can be washed out of the hole. Needs to better protect his lower body from cut blocks. Unimaginative pass rush sequence with a predictable spin move. Needs to improve his reaction time and pursuit angles to take away edge runs. Late to read the backfield action, leaving him flat-footed and delayed to the ball -- too many examples of him guessing wrong and needs to get better in this area. Only one season as a full-time starter and finished with 15 collegiate starts on his resume -- late bloomer and struggled to make an impact his first three seasons in Ann Arbor.
Here are his measurables courtesy of mockdraftable.
With a strong edge rusher checked off the box, the Cowboys can now focus the rest of the weekend on the secondary. And there are some real good options still available.