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Is Charles Tapper the Next DeMarcus Lawrence for Cowboys?

Brian Martin

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Is It Time To Replace Taco Charlton With Charles Tapper?

On the surface, it would seem that DeMarcus Lawrence and Charles Tapper have nothing in common with one another other than the career they have chosen and the position they play. But, if you dig a little deeper, you will notice a lot of similarities with the way they have started their professional careers with the Dallas Cowboys.

Each player has had a problem staying healthy, which has limited their effectiveness on the field and stunted their development. Both Tapper and Lawrence have had back problems and foot injuries that landed them on injured reserve. It's not the way they wanted to start their careers, but that's just the way things go sometimes.

Entering his fourth season in the NFL, DeMarcus Lawrence was finally able to get healthy and rewarded the Dallas Cowboys patience with a fantastic 2017 campaign, which earned him a trip to the Pro Bowl. The Cowboys now have their "War Daddy", but it might just be pure luck it happened at all.

Heading into the 2017 season, Lawrence was no surefire thing to make the final 53-man roster. Many fans had grown tired of his reoccurring injuries and were ready to move on. The Cowboys may have felt the same way, but they were pretty much forced to hang on to him out of pure need.

It was lucky they did, because Lawrence turned into one the best defensive ends in the entire NFL and now looks like a cornerstone player for the defense. But, the Cowboys could now use someone to play opposite him and I think that player could be Charles Tapper, who has had a similar start to his career.

Charles Tapper

Dallas Cowboys DE Charles Tapper (Paul Spinelli via AP)

Tapper is kind of the forgotten man amongst the Cowboys DEs. He was part of the fantastic 2016 draft class for the Cowboys, but has ended up on injured reserve his first two seasons in the league with a back injury as a rookie and a broken foot this past season. Pretty much the same injuries that held Lawrence back as well.

I know it's a little bit of a reach, but I think Charles Tapper could end up being the next DeMarcus Lawrence for the Dallas Cowboys. If Tapper can ever get healthy, I think it can be a difference maker.

There is no questioning Tapper's talent. He was one of the most physically gifted DEs in the 2016 draft class, his Combine numbers prove that, but I also think he is one of the best on the Cowboys roster.

I truly believe Charles Tapper would've finished somewhere in the range of 6 to 8 quarterback sacks in 2017 if he wouldn't have broken his foot. With his explosive first step, he looked really good last season in his limited playing time and finished the year with one QB sack on just 37 defensive snaps.

For comparison sake, Tyrone Crawford finished with four QB sacks on 626 defensive snaps and Taco Charlton had three sacks with 399 snaps. You can see it's not a reach to believe Tapper couldn't have done better with more playing time.

I don't know about you, but I personally have high hopes for Charles Tapper next season and I think he could be the player to start opposite DeMarcus Lawrence on the right side. Of course, all of this depends on if he can finally stay healthy for an entire season. If that happens, watch out!

Do you think Charles Tapper can follow DeMarcus Lawrence's footsteps?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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6 Comments
  • Nick Russo

    Really glad you wrote this article Brian. Since we drafted Tapper I’ve thought he could come in and be an impact DE. He played well at Oklahoma considering that he was essentially playing out of position in their defensive scheme. It was unfortunate that he had to miss his entire rookie year but coming into this past season, seeing how Tapper would perform was near the top of my list for the defense. As you mentioned, he was only able to play in two games before the foot injury sidelined him the rest of the year. But in those two games he was explosive and was able to get to the quarterback. I think that he will be an impact on the D-line if he can stay healthy.

    • oneputter

      Completely agree Nick. I was really looking forward to him contributing in year one. Was a fan of his while at OU and you’re right he played well in a scheme that was not necessarily a good fit for him all the time.

      He did show some in his limited action. We can only hope that he gets to finish a season upcoming.

  • Travis Diggs

    What have we seen from him to make us believe that

  • Corey

    I would like to think he can be a bookend to Lawrence, because he was pretty good at OU. It is just too bad he hasn’t been able to show more of what he can do because of injuries. Hopefully that will change in 2018

  • EverybodyTalks

    Still a Tapper fan.
    Thanks for the article Brian. To get a DLaw type DE from a 4th round pick is not out of the realm of possibility. I mean we were able to get our franchise QB with the 4th round pick AFTER Tapper. Hope he can remain on the roster and show us his stuff. Tapper only played 2 games and had a sack…so optimistically, in 16 games, that projects to 8 sacks..not bad!

  • Albert Smith

    I agree Brian I was amped about this season and the injury happened, really for the defense as a whole I thought it would improve. I watch a lot of film and so when many of my friends and family were in panic mode early on I told them to exercise patience which can be trying but in the end they saw the upside to our young core.

Star Blog

How Will Safeties Xavier Woods, Kavon Frazier Fit Kris Richard’s Secondary?

Sean Martin

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How Will Safeties Xavier Woods, Kavon Frazier Fit Kris Richard's Secondary?
(Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Unfortunately, David Irving's most recent four game suspension is the main story for a Dallas Cowboys team finished with OTAs and mini camp, left only to wait for training camp now. I've chosen to focus on the players that were on the field for the offseason program, that will continue to contend for starting jobs in Oxnard. Standing out from a lackluster group of safeties, for a Kris Richard led secondary that is off to a fast start, are safeties Xavier Woods and Kavon Frazier.

Joined by Jeff Heath, Tyree Robinson, Jameill Showers, and Marqueston Huff, the Cowboys are lacking a dominant force at safety to pair with their young and talented group of cornerbacks. With the likes of Chidobe Awuzie, Byron Jones (the former safety), and Anthony Brown already improving under Richard, the Cowboys hope is that the same will apply to this group of safeties.

It's still entirely too early to know how the Cowboys want to deploy their safeties this season, but the only players that have shown their strengths and weaknesses over any period of time are Heath, Frazier, and Woods. This is sure to cause an uphill battle for the fringe players looking to push this trio of versatile safeties.

Jeff Heath has appeared in 77 games over five seasons with the Cowboys. Frazier and Woods combined? Just 24 games, with 16 of them making up Woods' rookie season a year ago. This makes finding a potential role for both players vital to the Cowboys.

How Will Safeties Xavier Woods, Kavon Frazier Fit Kris Richard's Secondary? 2

Dallas Cowboys S Kavon Frazier (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Safety Kavon Frazier

Working mostly as a special teams player through two seasons in Dallas, Kavon Frazier has patiently awaited his opportunity to spark the Cowboys defense as a sixth round pick of 2016. Doing so in a memorable week 13 win over the Washington Redskins, Frazier earned an increased role as an enforcer on defense.

This is a player whose straight line burst and power is ideal for a ST starter, and when Frazier connects coming downhill on defense, the results can be catastrophic for an opposing offense.  Surely these are traits that will remind Kris Richard even slightly of his Super Bowl winning "Legion of Boom" defenses.

The distinction between Frazier being a part-time player or one maximizing his potential to start deep in the Cowboys secondary is an important one. Limited in coverage, Frazier may be at his best when conceding snaps to another safety on the Cowboys roster with more of an all-around game -- which the Cowboys can only hope Xavier Woods continues to be.

Safety Xavier Woods

Xavier Woods may not have the pure stopping power that Kavon Frazier possesses, but as a fellow sixth-round pick there is more than enough to like about what Woods brought to the Cowboys in 2017 out of Louisiana State. With 14 interceptions and six forced fumbles out of college, Woods slid in the draft enough for the Cowboys to trade up for his services.

The team wasn't cheated out of their investment in Woods last season, giving him the "Byron Jones treatment" as Woods lined up all over the field. It was Richard that came to Dallas and almost immediately moved Byron Jones down to cornerback, seeing a better use of his natural size and skills there.

Doing the same for Woods -- while keeping the natural FS free to react -- should be next up on Richard's offseason to-do list. This is a player with sideline to sideline range, enough athleticism to cover down in the slot, and the functional strength to compete in the box.

Amidst this uncertainty for both Frazier and Woods, early reports out of the Cowboys practices thus far have Jeff Heath specifically matching up against the tight end. This is an ideal role for Heath, and one that could compliment Woods very well.

How Will Safeties Xavier Woods, Kavon Frazier Fit Kris Richard's Secondary? 1

Dallas Cowboys CB Anthony Brown, S Xavier Woods, Jeff Heath

Regardless of where Heath is on the field, Woods should be able to coexist with him as a similarly instinctive safety.

There is also the possibility that both Heath and Woods struggle to handle these "starting" responsibilities, leaving the Cowboys with very little trusted depth at safety. If there is an area Woods needs the most improvement in, it is the angles he takes against the run to consistently make stops, a weakness also potentially mitigated by the Cowboys improved linebacker play (investing the 19th overall pick at the position).

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Between Frazier and Woods, it feels safe to say the Cowboys must find a starter for a secondary that could still achieve great things in 2018. The Cowboys are entering this season with a loaded group of cornerbacks, all capable of making a safety's job relatively easy, especially while learning under Richard.

Such can be the hope for a raw player like Frazier and, in a sense, Xavier Woods. The second-year player in Woods is a great unknown for the Cowboys right now, as he'll remain that way for some time before next month's training camp.

With this, we'll have much more time to sit around and continue pondering what certain position groups will look like once meaningful Cowboys football graciously returns. I've written before that I'm paying close attention to this team's group of wide receivers, and you can add in the secondary players they'll be competing against too.

Tell us what you think about "How Will Safeties Xavier Woods, Kavon Frazier Fit Kris Richard’s Secondary?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Star Blog

No, Cowboys Shouldn’t Cut David Irving

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys' Pass Rush: Who Will Be QB Sack Leader In 2017?
Jeff Hanisch / USA TODAY Sports

For the past five years, Dallas Cowboys fans have gone through painful offseason stories regarding upcoming suspensions for defensive players. It doesn't matter how much talent the front office is able to find through the Draft, there's always one player that ruins what feels like a successful offseason. This time, for the second consecutive year, David Irving is the player to let Cowboys Nation down.

On Friday it was announced that Irving will serve a four-game suspension after violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

Understandably, a lot of Cowboys' fans want to see Irving released by the franchise that has preached the "Right Kind of Guy" philosophy while failing to establish such a thing. It's disappointing to see such a talented player limiting himself  by not "wanting it" bad enough and by making mistakes like this repeatedly.

However, even if it's a very frustrating situation, the Cowboys shouldn't cut David Irving. 

First of all, Irving's hit against the cap space is pretty minimum and nothing to be concerned at all. After being handed a second-round tender earlier in the year, #95 was set to earn $2.91M during the season. With a four-game suspension ahead of him, that number will be even lower.

We're talking about a guy who in eight games managed to get to the quarterback seven times in 2017 and consistently pressured opposing signal callers. Not to mention he's going to be just 25 years old when the season begins.

For the Cowboys, David Irving has the talent needed to average one sack per game. All of this for less than three million.

Irving has proven by now that he's not worth a long-term extension. That much is clear.  In order to get one of those, a player must prove his availability.

Talking specifically about 2018, though, I'm sure the Cowboys will be better off if they count on Irving for the final 12 games of the season. The team counts with pretty decent depth at the position with Maliek Collins, Datone Jones and Jihad Ward, but Irving has the potential to end the season with double-digit sacks.

The team gains nothing by releasing Irving. The team will not even be "sending a message" if they were to release #95. Maybe if the team had consistently sent this kind of "messages" over the years it would make sense.

However, we know this team sticks with their players and supports them in moments like this. They have done just that with Randy Gregory and it seems like it will pay off soon.

Whether we're mad at Irving's actions or not, the truth is letting him go wouldn't be wise at all. The Cowboys are not paying him big-time money, he's young and he'll be productive on the field when the defense needs him to.

We're talking about a football team that wants to make a run for the Lombardi Trophy. They can't be letting starting-caliber players go just like that. They need all the help they can get and even though his situation is far from ideal, David Irving will play a big role on defense.

Tell me what you think about "No, Cowboys Shouldn’t Cut David Irving" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Star Blog

Should Cowboys Add Another Safety Before Training Camp?

Brian Martin

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Should Cowboys Add Another Safety Before Training Camp?

The Dallas Cowboys are extremely thin at the safety position. Fact. They haven't really brought in anyone to upgrade the position from last season. Fact. I just wanted to point that out because there's a lot of discussion as to whether or not the Cowboys need to add another safety before training camp.

I don't know where you stand on this debate or how I feel about it personally, but it's definitely something that needs to be discussed from the Cowboys end. It is the one position where there is a lot of unknown and inexperienced. If one of their current safeties were to go down with an injury and miss any time, the whole defense would suffer.

As things stand right now, Jeff Heath is the only one who will reprise his starting role on the backend of the Cowboys defense. Behind him are Xavier Woods and Kavon Frazier, but knowing exactly how they fit in at this moment is completely up in the air.

Unfortunately, that's the top three safeties for the Dallas Cowboys heading into the 2018 season. What's even more bothersome is their fourth might be an undrafted rookie, Tyree Robinson. I don't know about you, but I find that very concerning. But, maybe Kris Richard, the defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator, knows something we don't.

Kris Richard

Dallas Cowboys DB Coach Kris Richard

Fortunately, Kris Richard was recently asked if he had any concerns about the safety position on the "Doomsday Podcast" with Matt Mosley and Ed Werder. He said he had "none".

"I'm confident. I feel really good at this point in time and it's because the level of character of our guys," he said. "We're going to get better. That's the deal because our guys are young, focused, I think the hunger's there. I love the look in their eyes. I love how everyone is buying in, is focused and paying attention to detail. It makes a difference when guys care. It makes a difference when each one wants to teach one. We're trying to build something special. We want to be tribe-like. We want to be more than a team."

It certainly sounds like Kris Richard is excited about the Dallas Cowboys current safeties. Of course, he would never just come out and say that this group is terrible or he wished they'd add Earl Thomas another available safety. That's just not how things work. He's here to coach up the guys on the roster and not worry about personnel moves.

I don't know about you, but I know I would feel a lot better if they had one more experienced safety who could come in and compete for a starting job. Maybe someone like Tre Boston or Kenny Vaccaro, who are still unsigned. Maybe make that trade for Earl Thomas? That's a dream that just won't die.

Regardless, the Dallas Cowboys need to do something to address their depth at the safety position. I don't know what their plans are moving forward, but hopefully they have a contingency plan in place. It's just smart business.

Do you think the Dallas Cowboys need to add a safety before training camp?



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