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Did The Dallas Cowboys Improve At Defensive End In 2017?

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From what they lost to what they gained, how did Dallas do with the defensive ends?

NFL: Dallas Cowboys Rookie Minicamp Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

[After an incredible rise from worst to first in 2016 that saw the Cowboys ride the backs of two outstanding rookie campaigns to 13-3 and a changing of the guard, we have to examine the roster. From 1 to 53, we only have one question?

Have the Dallas Cowboys improved?]

Keeping it rolling with the defensive side of the ball, let’s take a stroll through the defensive ends on the roster and what change has taken place at the position.

Last Season:

DE Tyrone Crawford – (started 14 games, 28 tackles, 4.5 sacks)

DE Jack Crawford (started 10 games, 25 tackles, 3.5 sacks, signed 3-year deal with Falcons worth $8.8M, $3M GTD)

DE DeMarcus Lawrence – (started 3 games, played 10, 11 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF)

DE David Irving – (started 2 games, played 15, 17 tackles, 4 sacks, 4 FF)

DE Benson Mayowa – (started 6 games, played 13, 25 tackles, 6 sacks, 1 FF)

DE Ryan Davis (played 9 games, 4 tackles, signed 2-year deal with Bills worth $2.2M, $100K GTD)

DE Randy Gregory – (suspended 10 games, played 2 games, 9 tackles, 1 sack)

DE Charles Tapper – (drafted 4th round ’16, IR for the season with Pars Defect in Back)

This Season:

DE Tyrone Crawford – (TBD move back to DT?)

DE David Irving

DE Demarcus Lawrence

DE Benson Mayowa

DE Randy Gregory – (Suspended for 2017 season)

DE Charles Tapper

DE Damontre Moore (4th team in 6 years, played 4 games for Seahawks in ’16, 7 tackles, 0.5 sacks, former third-round pick)

DE Taco Charlton (drafted 28th overall, started 11 games, 40 tackles, 13.5 TFL, 10 sacks, First-Team All-Big Ten)

The other day, we posted a piece about figuring out the rotation of the defensive line and that will be the key to all of this. Will Tyrone Crawford remain as a left side defensive end or will he pair with Maliek Collins and move back to the three-tech position? Crawford always gives maximum effort but he’s been slowed by shoulder surgeries in each of the last two years.

David Irving really made a strong push last season and by all accounts deserves to get more playing time in 2017. He’s been putting in work all offseason long training and pictures have surfaced of him looking incredibly jacked and ready to roll. Irving has played all over the line but the coaches really liked what they got from him on the outside to close out the season. Irving is one guy that has shown the ability to take over games and that’s got expectations skyrocketing for this season.

The case with DeMarcus Lawrence is the same as always, will he stay healthy enough to make an impact? He’s coming off his second consecutive offseason surgery for continuous back issues. With that said, he’s the Cowboys’ most accomplished edge rusher. If he can stay healthy, he could make a leap this season and show more of his playmaking ability he showed in his first two seasons. It’s a contract year for Lawrence, he’ll have to really show out to get an extension to stay in Big D.

Mayowa might have started out very slowly but getting benched lit a fire under him and he really performed well to close out 2016. Mayowa certainly has a fit as a rotational right end and he did lead the team in sacks despite only starting six games. Charles Tapper is a guy that the coaches and scouts are high on for upside in 2017. There is a little trepidation about his Pars Defect in his back, which he’s had since birth. Tapper has athleticism and showed speed and explosion in college. Will he be able to translate that to the NFL?

Damontre Moore will have an uphill battle just making the team and his chances are slim at best.

Taco Charlton is the most interesting because you could make a case that he is already the best pass rusher in terms of pedigree. With Taco, a lot of folks out there still focus on what the Cowboys’ didn’t do instead. Let’s focus on what they did do. The Cowboys took the highest-rated pass rushers left on the board.

Taco’s a one-year starter? Big deal, so was T.J. Watt. Charlton has improved his skills with each year in college and played on a pretty solid defense at Michigan that had seven defenders drafted (T-1st with Alabama). He’s got some consistency things to work on but what prospect just comes out of college a finished product? Whether its pro comps to Chandler Jones or Justin Tuck, none of that matters. Taco Charlton is just a good football player who is about to get some of the NFL’s best coaching with Rod Marinelli and Leon Lett, if he has the potential, those two guys will certainly find it.

Conclusion: You have to feel excited about the prospects of Irving, Tapper, and Charlton being three young talents with a ton of untapped potential. There are a lot of moving parts in this equation and you hope that guys will step up and make critical plays. Dallas has some great coaches and they certainly upgraded the talent pool. After leading the league in sacks to close out the year in the last month, the hope is that they’re turning the corner. It’s not about finding a double-digit sack artist as much as it’s about getting the most out of the rotation. Did they get better? In terms of the talent level, Taco is an upgrade over the departed Jack Crawford and Tapper should give you much more than anything Ryan Davis contributed.

Poll

Did The Dallas Cowboys Improve At Defensive End In 2017?

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  • 94%
    Yes
    (2715 votes)
  • 5%
    No
    (152 votes)
2867 votes total Vote Now