DeMarcus Lawrence had a great season last year. His 14.5 sacks was the most for a Cowboys player since another pass rusher named DeMarcus was roaming around chasing quarterbacks. The success of the 2017 season has put Tank on the map and he has emerged as one of the elite edge rushers in the game. Or has he? According to NFL.com, Lawrence did not make the cut on their list of top 10 pass rushers heading into the 2018 season. That doesn’t seem right, so which players did make the list:
Von Miller, LB, Broncos - 10 sacks in 2017, six seasons with 10+ sacks
Aaron Donald, DT, Rams - 11 sacks in 2017, averages almost 10 sacks a season
Khalil Mack, LB, Raiders - 10.5 sacks in 2017, averages 10 sacks a season
Everson Griffen, DE, Vikings- 13 sacks in 2017, three seasons with 10+ sacks
J.J. Watt, DE, Texans - injured the last two years, but has three seasons with 17+ sacks
Cameron Jordan, DE, Saints - 13 sacks in 2017, three seasons with 10+ sacks
Chandler Jones, LB, Cardinals - 17 sacks in 2017, four seasons with 10+ sacks
Cameron Wake, DE, Dolphins - 10.5 sacks in 2017, five seasons with 10+ sacks
Melvin Ingram, DE, Chargers - 10.5 sacks in 2017, two seasons with 10+ sacks
Calais Campbell, DE, Jaguars - 14.5 sacks in 2017, only season with 10+ sacks
Actually, that’s a pretty good crew of havoc-wreaking pass rushers. They did list Lawrence as a guy who barely missed the cut along with fellow snub Joey Bosa, who's had 10+ sacks in each of his first two seasons in the league. Were they right to leave Lawrence off the list?
Tank’s 2017 season was great, but it was the only 10+ sack season of his four-year career. Granted, both the 2014 and 2016 seasons were hindered by injuries (and a suspension in 2016), but Lawrence still has to build his resume if he wants to stack up against these other guys. If Tank wants to get on the list, he’s going to have to prove he can do it again. And the Cowboys front office must share that same sentiment as they have not yet committed to him long term. Lawrence will be playing under the franchise tag price of $17.1 million unless the two sides strike up a deal before the July 16th deadline.
Make no mistake about it, Lawrence was a flat out beast last year. His performance was enough to make you want to go out and make sweatshirts. His effectiveness in the run game made him a valuable player on all three downs. And even when he didn’t come away with the sack, he was in the backfield constantly harassing the quarterback.
Von Miller and DeMarcus Lawrence produced pressure at the highest rate among edge defenders in 2017 pic.twitter.com/ud2KLh1LRA— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 7, 2018
This was fabulous to witness, especially with the Cowboys throwing a young secondary unit on the field last season. Thanks to the play of Lawrence, he helped keep those rookie DB’s afloat.
Lawrence is loved by the Cowboys coaching staff and he has all the measurables of a Rod Marinelli edge rusher. That might explain why the team loves rookie Dorance Armstrong so much. The similarities are uncanny.
Demarcus Lawrence vs Dorance Armstrong pic.twitter.com/5LAuOU6wS6— [a fan] (@DCBlueStar) April 29, 2018
With Armstrong and last year’s first-round draft pick, Taco Charlton, the Cowboys have some young blood to compete on the outside. Should Tank regress, the opinion of who will be the team’s most disruptive pass rusher could change come this time next year. But that is getting ahead of ourselves, and right now - Lawrence is the most dominant defensive end on the team even if he didn’t make the NFL’s top 10 list. And Tank has made note of this snub and is using it as motivation.
Guess I have my Motivation Monday. https://t.co/nDqq8EfeZZ— DeMarcus Lawrence (@TankLawrence) May 8, 2018
Whether or not Lawrence deserves to be mentioned with these elite pass rushers, it is really satisfying that we are even having this discussion. To finally have someone as dominant as Tank on the edge is a welcome sight for a Cowboys defense that has struggled to get to the quarterback in seasons past. The only question is - will it continue?