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BTB Mailbag: Revisiting the Taco Charlton vs. Kevin King debate w/ special Chidobe Awuzie appearance

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The popular debate before last season was why Taco and not Kevin King at 28? Well, let’s revisit that plus Chidobe Awuzie’s role in it.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys-OTA Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

We got a great question posed to us in the mailbag from BTB user Landon K about revisiting the Taco Charlton vs. Kevin King at 28 debate:

“Any way you could profile your thoughts on Kevin King vs. Chido going into year 2? Constant criticism of Taco is that King was there, but Chido looks like he has the opportunity to be elite. Would also be interesting to know what was left at DE when Cowboys went on the clock in the 2nd, because you have to love the Taco pick in combo with Chido if it was bare at his position by the late 2nd.”

Before we tackle this one, let’s remember that the biggest part of the debate comes from the fact that the Cowboys had Kevin King ranked higher on their board than Taco Charlton. The reasoning for why the Cowboys selected Taco instead of King was because they felt better about the cornerbacks that may be available in the later rounds than what they were going to potentially see at pass rusher.

“IF” the Cowboys would have taken Kevin King at 28, what pass rushers would have been available at 60? Here’s the 10 guys drafted after pick 60:

Edge Rushers Draft Selection (Team) Games Tackles Sacks Pass Deflections Forced Fumbles
Dawuane Smoot 68th, JAX 16 15 0 0 0
Jordan Willis 73rd, CIN 16 25 1 0 0
Chris Wormley 74th, BAL 7 5 0 0 0
Daeshon Hall 77th, CAR 1 0 0 0 0
Tim Williams 78th, BAL 8 6 0 0 0
Tarell Basham 80th, IND 15 7 2 0 1
Derek Rivers 83rd, NE 0 0 0 0 0
Trey Hendrickson 103rd, NO 12 13 2 2 0
Carl Lawson 116th, (CIN) 16 10 8.5 0 0
Deatrich Wise 131st, (NE) 16 16 5 1 0

The two guys drafted in the fourth round, Carl Lawson and Deatrich Wise, are two of the top performing rookies at their position. Let’s compare their numbers to Taco Charlton’s:

Player Draft Selection (Team) Games Tackles Sacks Pass Deflections Forced Fumbles
Carl Lawson 116th, (CIN) 16 10 8.5 0 0
Deatrich Wise 131st, (NE) 16 16 5 1 0
Taco Charlton 28th, (DAL) 16 21 3 1 1

If there is an argument to be made, it would be why did the Cowboys not take Carl Lawson? Well, the answer was because they were worried about his injury history. Lawson had missed the entirety of his sophomore year due to an ACL injury and only played seven games the next season due to multiple injuries.

As a rookie, Lawson led all pass rushers with 8.5 sacks and was second on his team in sacks. Deatrich Wise was third on the Patriots in sacks with 5.5, the leader was Trey Flowers with 6.5. Taco Charlton placed fourth on the Cowboys with three sacks, ahead of him were DeMarcus Lawrence at 14.5 sacks, David Irving at seven sacks, and Tyrone Crawford at four sacks. So, did the Cowboys miss on Carl Lawson? Well, it’s safe to say that everyone in the league passed on him at least once and the Cowboys weren’t interested with his injury history.

What role does Chidobe Awuzie play in this debate? A big one.

Moving on, we have to connect Kevin King to Chidobe Awuzie and determine what Awuzie’s role in this is. Here are the two compared by each of their rookie seasons:

Player Draft Selection Games Tackles Pass Deflections INT Forced Fumbles
Kevin King 33rd, (GB) 9 27 5 0 0
Chidobe Awuzie 60th, (DAL) 10 25 7 1 1

Kevin King and Awuzie’s numbers are similar in comparison. King and Awuzie also both dealt with injuries last season although King’s season ended in week 13 on IR. King had dislocated his shoulder multiple times, trying to play through the injury, but finally succumbed to it in December. He had offseason surgery for his shoulder and should be good to go by training camp. Awuzie had little nicks and scrapes at the beginning of the season but came on strong to end his rookie campaign.

Overall, maybe we’re partial but Chidobe Awuzie had a better rookie season and will head into 2018 as the Cowboys top cornerback with Byron Jones playing opposite of him. For the Packers, Kevin King will be in the mix with Davon House.

Verdict: The Cowboys did the right thing in taking Taco Charlton and Chidobe Awuzie

Analysis: There are certainly gripes to be heard about taking a different pass rusher but the combination is the key. Knowing what we do about how the Cowboys felt in regards to T.J. Watt and Carl Lawson, it makes sense to side with the Cowboys on the combination they ended up with. Besides, Taco Charlton outperformed all but Jordan Willis in tackles with 21, was fourth in sacks, and notched a forced fumble. Awuzie had two less tackles than King but made more plays on the ball. What the Cowboys were able to do at cornerback by taking the pass rusher first outweighs taking Kevin King at 28. It actually even goes further than that.

When you think about Taco Charlton’s year two potential combined with the fact that three other 2017 draft picks (Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Xavier Woods) are all primed for starting roles, the Cowboys most certainly got it right.