SB Nation is unveiling their NFL Hype Week today, and they asked the NFL team blogs to post an article about who they are excited about for the 2017 season. For the Dallas Cowboys, there are plenty of possibilities. There is the sophomore season for the dynamic duo, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. All Cowboys fans are excited about the future of those two, and want to see just how much better they can get after their phenomenal rookie seasons.
Then there’s Jaylon Smith. It’s impossible to talk about the excitement of training camp without thinking about Smith and whether he is going to be healthy enough to contribute this year. We’ve all heard the positive news coming from the Cowboys front office and his teammates, but we won’t really know anything until the pads come on and he starts seeing live action.
There are other areas that generate some adrenaline. Can the young secondary become playmakers? Is La’el Collins the answer at right tackle? Will a healthy Dez Bryant become a dominant monster once again? And is Rico Gathers for real, or just a unicorn?
But there is one player in all this that tends to get overlooked. One player that has me very excited to watch, a player that could fill a key role for the Cowboys that has been missing. That is pass rusher, and the player is Taco Charlton.
His pick divided the fan base. One side wanted a player with a specific set of traits for a pass rusher, a guy who is a little smaller, quicker, with greater bend going around the edge - someone in the physical mold of a Randy Gregory, without all the baggage. That’s not Charlton. He’s a big guy, tall and with long arms, but he does move pretty well for his size. He’s been compared more to guys like Carlos Dunlap or Chandler Jones, not guys like Von Miller.
Still, there is more than one way to skin a cat. Charlton put up some impressive numbers last year against top-level competition. He already shows a decent spin move and translates his size to power relatively well. He has the physical nature and tools to dominate, but was inconsistent in college and more than one scout or analyst said the same thing - will need a coach who can get the most out of his talent.
Fortunately, Rod Marinelli is one of the best in the business. He’s cobbled together a functioning line in his time here in Dallas without a lot of resources. Charlton is a first-round resource, and someone who has the physical package to make a difference.
This isn’t an effort to re-litigate whether should we have picked Taco or not. That ship has sailed. This is an effort to say, we should be excited about the possibilities of what he can become.
This is representative of some of the things written about him heading into the draft:
Charlton is an ascending prospect with the size, length, athleticism and pass-rushing potential that NFL general managers dream of.
In 2016, he ranked third in pass-rush productivity among all draft-eligible defenders with at least 100 pass rush attempts.
While his pick was not met with universal acclaim among the Cowboys fan base, there’s no denying that he has the physical tools to be a force in the pass rush. If Rod Marinelli can bring out all his talent, and get him to be a consistent, high-motor player, the Cowboys might finally have a pass rusher to be feared. That’s got me hyped to see.