Taco Charlton, the Cowboys first-round pick in the 2017 draft, wants you to know that whether you believe in him or not, he’s going to improve next season. He doesn’t need your support, in fact, if you haven’t given it to him yet, he’s not sure he wants it. At the end of the season, he said this about all the fans that have doubted him or are even angry about him being the Cowboys pick last year.
“I would say keep the same anger. If you hated me then, keep on hating me,” Charlton said in the final week of the regular season. “I’m going to continue to strive to get there. Don’t become a fan now. I’m a person that who you see today is not who you’ll see tomorrow. I’m going to continue to get better and be a great player in this league.”
Well, if I was Taco’s P.R. guy I would counsel him to be a little more fan-friendly. Then again, fans won’t really care how surly he might sound in the press as long as he delivers sacks for the Cowboys. That’s something he came up short on in his first season.
But he might not as bad off as you might think. Among rookie pass rushers, this includes all positions like 3-4 OLBs or even interior linemen, Taco was ninth in the league in sacks.
Looking back, it’s not T.J. Watt who the Cowboys should have drafted, but Carl Lawson of the Bengals. Of course, scheme fit plays a role.
Taco wasn’t terrible in 2017, mainly because he was a much better player in the second half of the season. Through the first seven games of the 2017 season he had 0 sacks, 4 tackles and 1 assist. In the last nine games, he had 3 sacks, 11 tackles and 3 assists. Additionally, it wasn’t just in the stats that he improved, his technique, or more accurately his ability to rely on other pass-rushing moves besides the spin move, was more evident.
He began to show more of his power, something the Cowboys liked about his tall, muscled frame.
All-22: #Cowboys DE Taco Charlton's second career sack. pic.twitter.com/j7MxEGJCWT— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) December 4, 2017
He also improved in the one area that could change him as a football player, his ability to hand-fight at the point of attack. Taco isn’t a speed rusher, he’s not an around-the-edge-with-a-bend rusher. He is a tall, powerful man with good athletic traits. He needs to utilize that and keep passers from getting their hands on him and controlling him. Here’s a nice breakdown of just that.
Taco Charlton's improvement is a very good sign for him as the season comes to a close. He's flashing some ++ traits. #DallasCowboys pic.twitter.com/d0wvwkXUvo— John Owning (@JohnOwning) December 20, 2017
Pro Football Focus ranked him 75th among all edge defenders as pass rushers in 2017. (DeMarcus Lawrence was second.) It would be interesting to see where he ranked over the last nine games of the season.
For his part, Charlton has all the confidence in the world.
“I definitely grew faster my rookie year than I did my freshman year at Michigan just because I have a lot more knowledge now of what to do to basically improve at a faster rate,” Charlton said. “For a lot of defensive linemen, they’ve got to go through a learning curve. I feel with the way I’m playing (at the end of the season), if you put me back at the beginning of the season I could put up a lot of great numbers. I’ll have to wait until next season to put up the numbers I want to put up.”
How much confidence do you have in Taco Charlton for next season?
Next year Taco Charlton will get:
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