What are the Cowboys top five needs heading into the draft?
1. Defensive Tackle
Lastly, the No. 1 need ahead of the 2019 NFL Draft for the Dallas Cowboys is at defensive tackle — with the three-technique remaining their biggest hole on the roster. This position was supposed to be filled in 2018 by David Irving, but things went south in that department last year.
Irving managed to play in just two games and has since been suspended by the NFL for not reporting to drug tests. He then released an Instagram video bashing the league’s anti-marijuana policy. He’s also had some choice words in regard to Jason Garrett since he left Dallas. Looking beyond all that noise, the Cowboys are still in need of a player to generate a pass rush in the spot vacated by Irving.
The good news is, they did fine without him a season ago. They also have more depth at defensive end, which could allow Tyrone Crawford to slide inside and fill the void until they find a young prospect to take over. There are many options in the draft that make sense here which could include Gerald Willis, Kingsley Keke, John Cominsky, or Charles Omenihu. They could also consider Zach Allen from Boston College, but adding him would likely require a trade up.
Who should the Cowboys target on Day 2? Pro Football Focus thinks a certain safety would fit nicely.
A poor 2017 season and a mediocre start to 2018 had some people wondering if we’d ever see another dominant season from Amari Cooper, but after a tremendous final eight weeks with the Cowboys, most fans will tell you that he was well worth the first-round price tag. The Cowboys’ first pick will come in the second round at no. 58 overall and considering that they were heavily involved in the pursuit of safety Earl Thomas for most of the offseason, adding a guy like Maryland’s Darnell Savage would add a player with burst and speed, and a player that might just be the best coverage safety in the class.
Now, some D-Law news. The deal is done and now it’s time to reap the rewards.
Re-signing Lawrence is obviously a huge boost to the Dallas pass rush – but for more than just the obvious reasons. The Cowboys traded a sixth-round draft pick to Miami for Robert Quinn last week. At the time, there was speculation that the team was insuring itself against a Lawrence holdout, but now it’s evident the Cowboys will be employing Pro Bowlers on both sides of their defensive line in 2019. Lawrence unquestionably returns as one of the leaders of this defense for the foreseeable future.
In addition to his Pro Bowl level of play, Lawrence established himself as a presence in the Cowboys’ locker room by setting the tone for a pass rush that billed itself as the “Hot Boyz.” Now, all the primary components of that pass rush are back – in addition to Quinn, who has 69 career sacks to his name. After a brief impasse, it sounds like all systems are go for D-Law and the Dallas defense.
Tank will be getting his shoulder surgery next week.
Lawrence has scheduled the surgery for Wednesday, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. The Pro Bowler will need three to four months for rehab, so the Cowboys faced something of a deadline to get a deal done for Lawrence to undergo surgery and return in time for at least part of training camp.
Film room: Bag secured! Why Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence is worth the mega money - John Owning, SportsDay
Owning does a great job explaining why Lawrence is worth every penny, including his ability in stopping the run.
Equally effective against run and pass
Lawrence is the unique defensive end who can be equally effective against the run and pass. Since 2017, Lawrence is sixth in the NFL in sacks (25) -- ahead of star pass rushers such as Von Miller (24.5), Khalil Mack (23), Frank Clark (22) and Yannick Ngakoue (21.5). He’s also eighth in quarterback hits (49), per Pro Football Reference.
In that same time span, Lawrence is ninth in tackles for loss (41). In 2018, Lawrence finished fourth in run stops (28) and second in run-stop percentage among edge defenders with at least 200 snaps against the run. He beat out Pro Bowl talents such as Mack, Miller, Chandler Jones and Cameron Jordan in both categories.
Lawrence possesses the strength, base and hand technique to consistently stymie -- or even displace -- blockers at the point of attack before shedding to pursue the ball carrier, and he possesses the quickness to knife into the backfield to make splash plays against the run.
On top of that, Lawrence may be the best backside run defender in the entire league.
The Cowboys have done wonders to bolster their defensive line this offseason, but things are starting to get a little crowded.
In all, it will be hard to justify keeping more 10 total defensive linemen on the team. Besides the aforementioned seven ends, the Cowboys also have some decent depth at defensive tackle. Antwaun Woods, Christian Covington, and Maliek Collins may be the only locks, but Daniel Ross is someone the team is also excited about.
And let’s not forget they still have the draft ahead of them.
With 11 players expecting to make the roster and no more than 10 spots available, someone’s going to be disappointed. Further, the NFL Draft is still on the horizon and defensive tackle doesn’t just look like a strength in this draft, but a target of Dallas’. Whoever the Cowboys pick is going to bump someone off the roster. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good problem to have. On a team that values a steady rotation on the D-line, depth is must. But when Dallas is making their selections later this month in the draft, you can bet they’ll be asking themselves if said draft pick is going to be a better player than the guy he’s about to bump off the team. This question is easily answered if it’s a first round pick, but not so easy to answer the further down the draft you go.
Is it possible that Taco time has come and gone in Dallas?
The Cowboys’ offseason moves haven’t helped Taco Charlton feel more comfortable on this roster either. Not only did the Cowboys extend their best defensive lineman, DeMarcus Lawrence, to a longterm contract worth a boat load of money, they also traded for defensive end Robert Quinn just a few weeks ago. If all goes right and both players are healthy, Lawrence and Quinn will anchor the Cowboys’ best pass rushing unit in 2019. Charlton, however, will be on the outside looking in. And despite his first round pick social status, this “benching” of sorts will be well deserved.
I don’t think Taco Charlton is trash, bad, or a waste of a roster spot whatsoever. In fact I think if motivated, and believed in, it’s possible that Charlton can develop into a starting caliber defensive end. While he might not ever be the explosive pass rusher that Cowboys fans wanted in the first round of that 2017 draft, he can be a productive player in this league. It just likely won’t be in Dallas. Charlton needs a change of scenery, a chance to start over with a franchise that won’t hold him to first round pressures or expectations. A chance to compete for a starting job rather than being buried on the bench.
The Cowboys are not in the business of letting star talent get away and now that Tank has been re-signed, the question begs - who’s next?
5. Lawrence is the first contract domino to fall, but surely not the last. So, who’s next? The Cowboys have had early discussions this offseason with representatives of their other Pro Bowlers who are eligible for new deals: Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott and Byron Jones. Undoubtedly they’d like to keep all of them long-term. Lawrence was the most important domino because of the franchise deadline. Now the Cowboys can turn their attention to the others. The timing and the order remain to be seen, but one thing is clear: The Cowboys very rarely let their best get away.
How the Cowboys finally signed DeMarcus Lawrence, and who they’re focused on next - Calvin Watkins, The Athletic
With the Lawrence deal done, the focus will shift to a couple of the team’s offensive playmakers.
Prescott should get at least a $100 million-plus contract extension from the Cowboys at some point this summer. Dallas will have plenty of space to add Prescott’s new money to the salary cap in 2020. According to Over the Cap, the Cowboys have an NFL-high $116.4 million in cap space.
And let’s not forget the recently acquired present from the Oakland Raiders.
The two best wide receivers in the game, Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown, were traded this offseason after years of discontent and distractions overshadowed superior play. Cooper is the opposite of Beckham and Brown. He’s a quiet soul, which is a welcome addition to the Cowboys’ locker room after years of Bryant’s outbursts and Cole Beasley’s and Terrance Williams’ grumpiness. He’s also 24 years old, making it likely he’s still playing well through the end of his coming deal. Cooper also brings more versatility to the position, something Bryant could not accomplish during his time with the team.
How much Dak ends up costing could be swayed by a potential new deal from another mobile quarterback with a track record for winning football games.
The fourth-round draft pick has been the biggest bargain in the league even after his meteoric rise to the starting job in Dallas. But he’s clearly worthy of being compared to the best-paid QBs for how they’ve started their careers.
If Wilson signs a new deal making him the highest-paid QB, the entire quarterback market gets a bump up. Rodgers is no longer an outlier and it makes the next tier down, with Matt Ryan at $30 million (on average), Kirk Cousins at $28 million, Jimmy Garappollo at $27.5 million and Matt Stafford at $27 million an even more viable landing spot for the games young star QBs who haven’t achieved the success the guys at the top have. Prescott certainly slots as a better player than the last three, and inflation could have him in competition with Ryan’s salary number.
In case you missed it...
Poll: With DeMarcus Lawrence paid, which Cowboys player should be next for a long-term deal? - RJ Ochoa, Blogging The Boys
Who do you think should be the next priority? RJ polled the BTB community so make sure you lock in your vote.
The case for Dak Prescott
Honestly there is no case that makes more sense than Dak as far as who deserves to get paid (although Zeke certainly is a strong argument). The reason Dak wins out in this respect though is because he’s done what he has for the Cowboys on a fourth-round rookie contract. By and large he’s been paid the least for his contributions. What’s more is Dak plays the position of quarterback. The one that plays for the Seattle Seahawks, Russell Wilson duh, wants to get paid and that could have an impact here.
When it comes to this position whoever’s next is typically who gets paid the most. If/when Wilson gets paid, Dak is likely going to want to beat that (who wouldn’t?). This is the first offseason where the Cowboys can in fact even give Dak a long-term contract. It makes sense that he would be their next focus in this regard.
Tweet of the Day
Congratulations are in order for Cowboys quarterback Mike White. He tied the knot on Saturday!