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Charles Tapper Will Improve Cowboys Pass Rush In 2017

Brian Martin

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Charles Tapper Will Improve Cowboys Pass Rush In 2017

Ever since the Dallas Cowboys' heartbreaking Divisional Round loss to the Packers (2016), the hot topic has been how to improve their pass rush. It's completely understandable, but there are no clear answers about how to do it. I'm probably in the minority here, but I think the Cowboys' pass rush will improve in 2017 because of second-year defensive end Charles Tapper.

Unfortunately, Charles Tapper didn't get to prove what he can do for the Cowboys' pass rush last year. He pretty much had to redshirt his first year in the NFL because of a back injury he sustained in training camp.

What was initially believed to be nothing more than back tightness was eventually diagnosed as a Pars Defect injury, or what is better known as a fractured vertebrae. Unbeknownst to him, it is an injury he has had since childhood, but has never caused him any problems.

It looks as if Tapper is now 100-percent ready for the Cowboys' off-season practices. We still have the rest of free agency and the draft to get through, but as things stand right now, he gives me the most hope for an improved pass rush this in 2017.

You may have forgotten, but the Dallas Cowboys drafted Charles Tapper with the first of their two fourth round draft picks in 2016. The second of course was used to draft Dak Prescott and we all know how that turned out.

Hopefully, Tapper can follow suit now that he is 100% healthy.

DE Charles TapperWho is Charles Tapper?

Charles Tapper is a second-year defensive end out of Oklahoma. At 6'2", 271-pounds, he has the prototypical size for a 4-3 defensive end and the athletic ability to be a really good player in the NFL.

Tapper was one of the top performing defensive ends at the 2016 NFL combine. His 4.59 40-yard dash was the best among the DEs in 2016 and would've tied him for third amongst this year's draft class with UCLA's Takkarist McKinley, who is about 20 pounds lighter.

Of course, a player can't be solely judged by their 40-yard dash, especially a defensive end. But, that speed can be utilized to chase down ball carriers from behind and to put opposing offensive tackles in a difficult position when rushing the quarterback around the edge.

He is also able to convert that speed into power when he utilizes his bull rush. It often results in offensive tackles looking as if they're wearing skates.

One of Tapper's more underrated attributes as a player is his impressive wingspan.

He has 34 3/8'' arms, which allows him to set a strong edge in the running game by keeping offensive lineman from getting into his body. That arm length also comes in handy as a pass rusher. He uses it effectively by not allowing offensive lineman to get their hands on him. It really makes him a difficult player to block coming off the edge.

DE Charles Tapper

Charles Tapper will be a difference maker in 2017

You may think I'm jumping the gun a little bit by saying Charles Tapper will be a difference maker for the Dallas Cowboys in 2017, but if not for his back injury last season, he probably would've been the starting RDE.

Tyrone Crawford was forced to move from the inside of the Cowboys defense to the outside to fill that role, but that shouldn't happen with a healthy Tapper.

Charles Tapper already has the benefit of being in defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli's 4-3 defensive scheme for a year and is probably the Day 1-starter as things stand now. That redshirt year has also allowed him extra time to take advantage of the Cowboys' strength and conditioning program to redefine his body. This should allow him to be a much more effective player.

Another benefit to basically red-shirting his rookie year in the NFL is it has not only given him extra time for his back to heal, but it has also allowed him to develop a more diverse pass rushing repertoire. When watching his game film coming out of Oklahoma, you didn't really see him rush with any kind of plan and didn't really know how to use his hands as a pass rusher.

This should definitely change in his second year, which will make him a more complete player.

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I completely understand if you think that I'm being a little overly optimistic about Charles Tapper helping the Cowboys' pass rush in 2017. It is completely understandable.

He is still a somewhat unknown commodity, because we didn't really get to see what he can do in a game situation. However, I believe that he is already better than anybody the Cowboys can draft this year. He has the skill set to be a disruptive force against both the run and the pass as a defensive end.

We'll have to wait and see if the Dallas Cowboys believe as I do, but we shouldn't have to wait long to get our answer.

If the Cowboys pass on drafting a defensive end in the first couple of rounds, we can probably assume they think Charles Tapper can take the next step in his career.

Do you think Tapper improves the 2017 Cowboys pass rush?



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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19 Comments
  • Travis Diggs

    I wanna believe this but how do we know this?? What have we seen to make us believe that he will be a difference maker but then again any additions to this defensive line will be considered a difference maker because of the lack of talent already on the roster

    • Brian Martin

      Travis, I agree we haven’t seen anything from Tapper that would suggest he will be a difference maker in 2017. But, that’s basically the same type of assumption you would receive if you drafted a defensive end at 28. The only difference is that Tapper has had a year in the system and a year of NFL coaching to improve his craft.

  • https://www.facebook.com/PoliticalRealities/ LD Jackson

    I think there is every reason to be optimistic about Charles Tapper and his contribution to the Dallas Cowboys. Yes, he is an unknown quality because he has yet to play in an NFL game, preseason or otherwise, but indications were that he was progressing nicely in training camp until he was sidelined with his back. As a Dallas and and Oklahoma fan, I am excited to see what he can do at the next level.

    • Brian Martin

      LD, I agree with everything you said.

      • https://www.facebook.com/PoliticalRealities/ LD Jackson

        I wish there was a way to confirm how Tapper’s back is coming along. You don’t see him mentioned a lot here, or in the Cowboy Forums.

        • Brian Martin

          You and me both. He seemed to think he was 100% ready to go before the Cowboys placed him on IR last season. So hopefully the extra time will allow him to heal up even more.

  • Russ_Te

    A strike for a quality RDE in Round 4 would be a strike indeed. I think you have to figure in a learning curve for Tapper at best, whereby Lawrence is far ahead of him for 2017.

    It’s true Lawrence could still flip sides and Irving could still work both LDE and DT, but I’m guessing the plan for now is to put some chips on Irving turning the next corner in his game. If he does that, that is my LDE down in / down out. That puts Lawrence back at RDE, where I think he can contribute QB pressures at times & play the run well.

    One element in this that can turn things upward is – like Irving – the improvement curve of Maliek Collins. We know he has the physicality to be a great DT. If he is on the rise and Lawrence is at RDE, we’ll get pressure from that side.

    I’d rather get a premiere prospect in here for RDE of course, but if they are gone and the CB’s are not, then IMO adding an impact CB is the shortest route to defensive upgrade this year.

    • Brian Martin

      Russ, everything you say is true. I however think Irving is better when he plays on the inside. His length and quickness off the ball give interior offensive lineman fits. The point I was trying to make is that I don’t know if DE is as big of a position of need as everybody seems to think. I’m sure the Cowboys want to find a dominant pass rusher, I just don’t know if there will be one available in the draft. All off this will work itself out in the off-season practices.

  • dallas1966

    Can’t wait

  • Connie Pratt Wilkinson

    i think we had above average pass coverage last year and that helped the below average pass rush. I dont believe carroll is as good as carr and we have done nothing to improve our pressure on opposing qb,s. so one or the other needs to be addressed at some point or a great defensive coordinator will take the fall for an inadequate general management job.

    • Brian Martin

      I honestly think our secondary is about the same. I think we will add more talent to the secondary and pass rush through the draft, which will hopefully help the defense.

  • John Williams

    I’m in. Wasn’t a fit in OU’s 3-4 yet was still a productive End player for them. I’d like to see him get a bit lighter so he could use his speed and athleticism a bit more. There are enough guys who have the power game, Tapper could be the guy that rushes with speed.

    I think he will make an impact this year.

    • Brian Martin

      I don’t know if he needs to get lighter. He’s already a 4.5 40 guy at 270 pounds. That’s a rarity. That should help him hold up against the run and allow him to chase down running backs. I’m really looking forward to seeing what he can offer.

      • John Williams

        With his back history, it would help him to shed even 5 to ten pounds and would still leave him with enough size to play the RDE spot. Could only help with his jump, agility, and finishing.

        • Brian Martin

          I imagine that with basically a year in the strength and conditioning program, we will see Tapper with a remade body. I’m sure the staff focused on strengthening his back and getting him to where they think he needs to be to perform at his best.

          • John Williams

            They’ve had a lot of practice with Back/core strengthening with Romo. I’m really looking forward to training camp to see if he can push for a starting spot.

          • Brian Martin

            You can also add DeMarcus Lawrence. He has had back issues as well. I think a lot of us are really looking forward to training camp. There are high expectations for 2017

          • John Williams

            Looking forward to the competition that will be had for EDGE Snaps between Lawrence, Tapper, Irving, Moore, and their draft pick.

          • Brian Martin

            I agree. It is definitely going to be one of the camp battles everyone will be paying close attention to

Star Blog

Should the Dallas Cowboys Trade for These 2 Oakland Raiders?

John Williams

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Should the Cowboys Make a Trade for These Oakland Raiders?

The trade deadline on October 30th will be here faster than we know. It's the final opportunity that NFL teams will have an opportunity to make a significant upgrade to their roster. And if you're a frequent reader of the Dallas Cowboys, then you know that the Dallas Cowboys could use some help, especially on the offensive side of the football.

On Thursday, Marcus Mosher from The Raiders Wire on USA Today posed a hypothetical trade involving the Dallas Cowboys. In his scenario, he has the Dallas Cowboys trading for Wide Receiver Amari Cooper and thinks that Cooper could net the Raiders a top 75 draft selection.

Amari Cooper is a good wide receiver, but he's not a receiver I would trade a top-75 pick for. Cooper is a player that has a lot of talent, but has struggled with drops and inconsistency. Even now, with the Raiders he's having a hard time getting consistent opportunities.

Cooper's second on the team in targets, but third on the team in receptions behind a tight end and a running back. Cooper's also third on the team in yardage behind the two guys that I'd be way more interested in trading for; Tight End Jared Cook and Wide Receiver Jordy Nelson.

Yes, these guys are on the wrong side of 30, but they are guys that have been around a long time and can help your offense this season. Both would be upgrades at the position, even at their advanced NFL age.

Jared Cook - Tight End

You've heard the adage, "if you can't beat em, join em." Well, this is the reverse of that. "If he always beats you, acquire him."

That's what Oakland Raiders Tight End Jared Cook is to the Dallas Cowboys. Point of evidence.

Game Winning Jared Cook Catch Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys

Uploaded by Kafin Walker on 2017-01-16.

That remarkable catch by Jared Cook still haunts me and many of you in Cowboys Nation. It was a perfectly thrown ball by Aaron Rodgers and Cook made an incredible catch along the sidelines that led to Mason Crosby's game-winning field goal at the end of regulation.

Jared Cook's Oakland Raiders team isn't going anywhere this season. They're already four games back of the AFC West leading Kansas City Chiefs and the AFC is looking deeper than it has in recent years. The Raiders and the Indianapolis Colts are the only teams in the NFC with less than two losses. That means there are 14 teams with better records than Jon Gruden's Oakland squad. This week the Raiders face a Seattle Seahawks team that beat the Dallas Cowboys and lost by only a couple of points to the undefeated Los Angeles Rams.

Cook has been one of the better tight ends in the NFL this season and would be a veteran presence that the Dallas Cowboys could add if they felt like they could make a run at the playoffs.

At 31, Cook is averaging six catches and 78 yards receiving per game. He'd give the Dallas Cowboys someone they could run on post, corner, and seam routes to challenge safeties deep. Something that they're lacking from the tight end position at the moment. Cook is leading the Oakland Raiders in targets, receptions, yards, and is second on the Raiders in touchdowns in 2018.

No offense to Geoff Swaim, who's been surprisingly good this year, but Jared Cook makes this offense better. He allows you to make Rico Gathers your TE3, which would allow Rico to continue learning the game without the responsibility of being a primary target on certain pass plays.

Jared Cook is in the last season of his deal, so you wouldn't have to be committed to him beyond 2018. The perfect rental who could step in and play pretty quickly.

Jordy Nelson - Wide Receiver

I know this team is allergic to adding veteran players, especially veterans over 30, but Jordy Nelson is another name that they should take a long look at.

At 33 years of age, Nelson leads the Raiders in receiving touchdowns and is second on the team with 15.9 yards per reception. He's also third in receptions and second in yards.

His numbers -- 20 receptions for 317 yards and three touchdowns -- would lead the Dallas Cowboys in all receiving categories.

Nelson's still got some juice left and he's always been a good route runner with good hands.

Here are some highlights from Jordy's week three performance against the Miami Dolphins.

Jordy Nelson Can't Be Stopped w/ 173 Yards & 1 TD vs. Miami!

Check out Jordy Nelson highlights, racking up 173 yards receiving! The Oakland Raiders take on the Miami Dolphins during Week 3 of the 2018 NFL season. Subscribe to NFL: http://j.mp/1L0bVBu Check out our other channels: NFL Vault http://www.youtube.com/nflvault NFL Network http://www.youtube.com/nflnetwork NFL Films http://www.youtube.com/nflfilms NFL Rush http://www.youtube.com/nflrush #NFL #Raiders #JordyNelson

Nelson doesn't have any guarantees left on the deal he signed this past offseason so if you cut him in the 2019 offseason, you'd get zero dead money added to your 2019 salary cap, but would get $7.2 million in savings.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Because of their age and the fact that they'd likely be one-year rentals, I don't imagine that you'd have to give up much more than a fifth round pick for either of these guys. And while I don't think the Dallas Cowboys would take a look at trading for either veteran, it's something they should do if they have aspirations of making the playoffs in 2018.

The Dallas Cowboys offense could use a boost.

What's the most you'd be willing to offer for either Jordy Nelson or Jared Cook?

 



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Cowboys’ Issues Are Deeper Than The Division Race

Kevin Brady

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Are The Cowboys' Players Unhappy With Their Playbook?
Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News

Yesterday, Inside The Star staff writer Jess Haynie posed an interesting question: "could the wide-open NFC East help Jason Garrett's job security?"

The Dallas Cowboys started off their season a disappointing 2-3, but despite this rough start, they are right in the thick of things in the NFC East. The defending champion Eagles, who most expected to run away with the division, are now just 3-3. The lowly New York Giants are probably done at 1-5, and the Washington Redskins looked pathetic on Monday night, dropping to 2-2.

This division looks average at best, though I still somewhat expect the Eagles' talent to take over at some point and allow them to make a run. Still the Cowboys are alive, and if they can pull off the upset at home this Sunday, they may even be in first place come Monday morning.

So, Jess fairly asks, could this help Jason Garrett and the Cowboys' coaching staff keep their jobs? After all, it's rare you see an owner change coaches after remaining competitive within the division throughout most of the prior season. And given Jason Garrett's relationship with Jerry Jones, it might take an awful season to see any real change occur.

Here's the thing: this team could win the division at 9-7, and it would still be time for changes. Incompetence of others does not mean that you are competent, even if you are competent in comparison to those others.

The Cowboys have players openly questioning play calls, alluding to lack of trust in the quarterback, and pretty consistent drama swirling around the locker room. Yes, some of that is the media created Cowboy drama we always see, but there is disfunction within the organization without a doubt.

As a franchise the Cowboys need new blood in the building. To be honest, they could use a general manager separate from the Jones family name, but that is very unlikely to ever happen. So we focus on the coaching staff, specifically on the offensive side of the ball where the Cowboys have struggled the most.

Dallas is 29th in passing yards, 28th in passing yards per attempt, and tied for 26th in passing touchdowns through five weeks. Plainly put, they're horrible, and bringing back an offensive minded head coach and/or offensive coordinator who oversaw this terrible passing offense is counterproductive.

Regardless of where the Cowboys stand within this average division, they need to look themselves in the mirror this offseason. They need to be seriously comparing themselves to teams like the Rams (and not by lying to themselves like Jerry Jones did), not the 1-5 Giants.

The Cowboys should be striving for more than just being the best of a group of average football teams, and if that means cutting ties with Jason Garrett, then so be it.



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Opposition Outlook: Versatile T.J. Yeldon Too Much for Dallas Cowboys?

John Williams

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Opposition Outlook: TJ Yeldon Will be a Problem for the Dallas Cowboys

If you haven't heard the news yet, then let me be the first to tell you. Jacksonville Jaguars Running Back Leonard Fournette has been ruled out of this week's matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the Jaguars. Don't let his absence fool you, though, T.J. Yeldon is a back that can hurt the Cowboys in many ways.

T.J. Yeldon was the Jaguars second round pick out of Alabama in the 2015 NFL Draft and was expected to be a featured back for them. That never really materialized and the Jaguars then went out and selected Fournette early in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Yeldon is now more of a passing game back for the AFC South contender, but with Fournette out, he's getting an opportunity in a full-time role. He's not at all the same back as Fournette, as Yeldon has much more ability in the passing game.

Already in 2018, Yeldon's caught 22 passes for 194 yards and three touchdowns, which is more than any Dallas Cowboys wide receiver this season. T.J. Yeldon's averaging 8.8 yards per reception to go along with his 4.4 yards per carry on the season.

He's averaging 90 total yards per game on 16 touches and a touchdown a game. Even when Fournette was active in weeks one and four, Yeldon still received 17 and 21 touches in those games.

He's not at all an afterthought in the Jaguars offense and shouldn't be as the Dallas Cowboys defense prepares to stop them in week five.

Here's how he ranks among running backs with at least 24 targets:

  • Tied for second in receiving touchdowns.
  • 11th in receiving yards.
  • 14th in reception percentage.
  • Eighth in targets
  • 10th in receptions
  • Fourth in yards per reception
  • Seventh in yards after catch
  • Fifth in yards after catch per receptions.
  • Sixth in receptions that led to a first down.
  • Second in drops.
  • He has the 10th highest quarterback rating among running backs when targeted.

T.J. Yeldon isn't the best back in the NFL, but as a dual purpose back, he's really good. He's 15th in the NFL in total yards and for two of those games he was sharing the load with a former top five pick.

The Dallas Cowboys have been really good against the run this season. They've allowed the 11th fewest rushing yards and their 3.4 yards per carry allowed ranks tied for second in the NFL. Where they've struggled is with running backs in the passing game.

Through five weeks this season, they've allowed running backs to go for 47.6 yards per game. In weeks one, two, and five, they allowed 66 yards receiving to Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, and Alfred Blue.

If there's an area where the Jaguars can exploit the Dallas Cowboys defense, it will be in targeting T.J. Yeldon in the passing game. Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, and (hopefully if he plays) Sean Lee will be enough to slow him down and make Blake Bortles take chances down the field.



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