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Cowboys Made Right Choice Drafting Taco Charlton Over T.J. Watt

Let's rewind a little bit and head back to the . The were on the clock with the 28th selection in the first-round and decided to hand in their draft card with 's name written on it. This caused a lot of to go into a frenzy because the majority of them wanted T.J. Watt.

I'll admit I was guilty of being completely shocked the Cowboys decided to draft Charlton over Watt, but I had faith and the department knew what they were doing. I liked Charlton enough to give them the benefit of the doubt, despite liking Watt a little bit better.

Leading into the 2017 , T.J. Watt was a player who might have seen his draft stock rise the most. Not only did he possess a really good NFL bloodline (), but his measurable's and performance at the were among the best amongst the pass rushers.

It wasn't that big of a secret the Dallas Cowboys were targeting a defensive end with their first-round selection. Unfortunately, selecting at the backend in the first isn't the best place to find a pass rusher. But, there were going to be a few options available, most notably Taco Charlton and T.J. Watt.

We all know who the Dallas Cowboys selected, but unfortunately fans continued to whine and moan about not selecting Watt, especially after getting off to a hot start with the . Not only did he make an immediate impact, but it made the Cowboys decision to take Charlton look like the wrong one.

Taco Charlton, T.J. Watt
Dallas Cowboys DE Taco Charlton and Pittsburgh Steelers LB T.J. Watt

Well, after witnessing the way Taco Charlton has played in the and after doing some research, I'm pleased to announce the Dallas Cowboys absolutely got it right by drafting the former Michigan standout defensive end.

If you just look at Taco Charlton and T.J. Watt's first-year statistics, then Watt without a doubt had a better rookie season. Watt ended the year with 54 tackles, 7 1 forced fumble, and 1 interception. Charlton on the other hand only managed 19 tackles, 3 QB sacks, and 1 forced fumble. Based on this information alone, Watt clearly had the better rookie season. But, did he actually?

After doing a little research, I don't think Taco Charlton had as bad of a rookie season as we might  have thought, especially compared to T.J. Watt. Watt was just given more opportunities to prove himself.

You see, Taco Charlton didn't play as many defensive snaps last season as T.J. Watt. With the Cowboys, Charlton only played 399 defensive snaps (38.18%) compared to Watt's 751 snaps (76.55%). It's no wonder Watt was more productive his rookie season. He nearly doubled Charlton's playing time. With that information, if you were to double Charlton's rookie production, he would be just about on par with Watt.

I wanted to point all of this out because I believe Taco Charlton is just starting to scratch the surface of his potential. I think he will only continue to get better, whereas T.J. Watt has likely reached his peak, at least in my .

Hopefully, this will put the debate about whether or not the Dallas Cowboys should have drafted T.J. Watt over Taco Charlton to rest, at least for now. We won't know which player will end up being the better of the two until their careers finally come to an end. But, when all is said and done, I believe Charlton will be the victor.

Do you think the Dallas Cowboys got it right by drafting Taco Charlton?

Brian Martin
Brian Martin
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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Kevin Black

Let’s clear up something right now: Will McClay and the scouts wanted T.J. Watt. The coaches wanted Taco Charlton. McClay was willing to give this to the coaches because the difference wasn’t that much, but the scouts had Watt rated higher.

Let’s also be clear about position. Taco Charlton is a left defensive end, the same position that Tank Lawrence plays. T.J. Watt is a right defensive end in our defense, a position that Tyrone Crawford played last year. Crawford is serviceable as the right defensive end, sometimes called the weak side end, but Dallas still drafted Dorance Armstrong to hopefully replace Crawford because he fits the profile better. When that happened, NO ONE thought Randy Gregory would be coming back.

So, after the draft in 2018, you had two players at the right side end, sometimes called the strong side, and no definitive left side end that matched the preferred profile except a 4th round pick.

Next year you get to decide whether to play Tank Lawrence, which will stop Taco’s progress, or let him go and hope Taco plays as well as Tank did. You got lucky this year with Randy Gregory coming back and it seems Dorance Armstrong is a steal that rarely happens at weak side end in the NFL.

I’d be curious if they still draft Dorance if they had T.J. Watt in the fold though. After their careers are over, T.J. will have the better overall career stats-wise. Much of that has to do with the position he plays, but it also has to do with the talent each has. Taco will be a real good player in this league, another Greg Ellis. You’d love to have Greg Ellis on your team, but he’s no Demarcus Ware.


First paragraph: pure conjecture. Show me any proof of that.

Watt plays OLB, and most scouting reports coming out pointed out he was a better in a 3-4 than as a 4-3 DE. Comparing him to Ware is a joke, right? A first ballot HOF? The best at his position in the NFL? TJ Watt will likely have a decent career as will Charlton.

Kevin Black

It’s not conjecture. It’s been reported several times, most recently by Fish.

I don’t see where I compared T.J. Watt to Demarcus Ware. You are extending the comparison of Greg Ellis and Demarcus Ware to something I never did.

My opinion was that Watt will have a better career than Taco at the end. That Taco’s career will be more like Greg Ellis. That’s it.


So it’s Fish’s conjecture. He didn’t document his sources.

Kevin Black

If you want to say it’s conjecture, go ahead, but Fish will tell you that privately, that’s what happened. They won’t say it publicly so it doesn’t ruffle any feathers. Still doesn’t change the fact that’s how it happened.

No, I’m implying that Taco will be more like Ellis than Ware. And I said that’s not bad. I just think T.J. Watt’s career would be better, but since he’s not here, there no way to truly compare since he’s in the 3-4 and Taco is in a 4-3. Ellis had a lot of sacks in his career due to longevity and we can’t add that to equation. Taco will be as good as Ellis, but there’s no guarantee he will be in the league that long. If Watt and Taco have the same length of careers and play the same number of games, Watt will be about 20% better.


Taco Charlton’s hair alone this preseason is proof enough Dallas should have drafted Watt.

Timothy Tabor

If you actually believe this your an idiot! TJ Watt is the next Clay Mathews! Taco won’t even reach the numbers Watt did as a Rookie! Wait and watch!


In a 3-4/hybrid defense, Watt is clearly better. We run a 4-3, and in this system, Taco will end up the better piece for us

Sam Iam

This article is a weak assessment of the situation considering the draft process and choices available at the time. Looking back I’d rather have someone like the TE Njoku over either. We’d have a lot less noise this year about the gaping hole in the TE spot this year, if they had him. DE was a modest need , Taco wasnt the best available player.


This is what I was going to say. With getting Gregory back and signing Ealy, Njoku would be infinitely more helpful at this point

Fred Miller

The Cowboys knew he wasn’t the best player available. I did read they wanted a DB but fealt the remaining talent at DE was thin and there were plenty of talented DB’s remaining so they drafted Taco.

Chuck Wright

Despite claims, don’t think we really know until this year. clearly Watt a better year 1 player. Which one grows from their rookie year?


The only thing clear is that Watt got more playing time. If you equal out the time, Taco is the better 4-3 DE


You can’t just double Taco’s stats because of his volume of snaps and say he’s better. Sadly, there is no analysis in this article, just base conjecture. Even knowing what percent of Taco’s snaps were in passing situations vs. a base D would help, but we don’t have that.

As much as I liked TJ (before the combine even), I don’t see a 4-3 DE as a natural fit. Not saying he wouldn’t succeed in Dallas, but he’s in a better system for his size and skill set.


I wasn’t saying Taco was/is better than Watt. Who’s better is irrelevant. I was saying that given equal playing time, Taco projects to be just slightly worse/basically on par with Watt. What is clear, however, is that Watt is a 3-4 player while Taco is a 4-3

Sexcdex Xfact

I too was caught up on the hype & Taco didn’t have as much starting time in Michigan than Watts college career

I simply don’t know how TJ would fit in our scheme, but taco has only 1 yr starting experience

So I knew Taco had a higher ceiling in all likelihood

I’m more confident in Will McClay’s ability but still equally skeptical with our coaching ability

Just hope projects like the Rico Gathers experiment doesn’t get scrapped prematurely

Rico is a different challenge for our FO & coaching
I’m hopeful that Dallas trust the same first mind synopsis with Gathers as they have with Gregory, D Law, Taco, Dak,

He’s just too good despite his rawness NOT to invest a bit more patience & effort to strike oil “Mr. Jones, sir”

That’s your language prior to football
Continue to prime the Rico Gathers pump

The dividends won’t disappoint you not your fans

Tamzombren Lauderdale

Watt wasnt drafted bc he doesnt fit our scheme, he’s more suited 2 b EXACTLY what he was drafted 2 b, a 3-4 OLB, he could not hold up as a NFL 4-3 DE, he’s to small & would suffer against the run !


I’m not sure if I completely agree that TJ couldn’t make it as a 4-3 DE, but you at least provide better insight than the article did. Watt is certainly better off in a 3-4.

Tamzombren Lauderdale

Fair enough !

Chris S.

This aged well

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