The Dallas Cowboys locked up All-Pro Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence last April when they signed him to a five-year 105 million dollar extension with 65 million guaranteed. Lawrence faced a lot of criticism for his 2019 campaign due to him only producing five sacks, but you have to dig deeper than that. He constantly caused havoc at the line scrimmage, so much so, that he finished third in the NFL amongst edge rushers in run stop % (tackles that constitute a loss) that played at least 50% of their team’s defensive snaps, per Pro Football Focus.
DeMarcus Lawrence finished 3rd in run stop % (tackles that constitute a “loss” for the offense) among edge defenders who played at least 50% of their defense’s snaps, per PFF. #Cowboys
Here is every TFL by #Cowboys DE Demarcus Lawrence in 2019: https://t.co/CcDMosAY1c
Also, Robert Quinn, who led the Cowboys with 11.5 sacks in 2019, wouldn’t have had that production without Lawrence taking on so many double teams and allowing him to get more one-on-one opportunities. So as you can see, Lawrence’s value goes way beyond sacks.
During free agency and the draft, unlike previous offseasons, the Cowboys buffered the interior of their defensive line.
The first domino to fall would be Gerald McCoy who signed a three-year deal for 18.3 million back in March. The former six-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro will be the Cowboys starting 3-technique in 2020. One thing you can pencil in for McCoy since 2012 is he’ll have at least five sacks rushing from the interior which means he’ll draw a lot of double teams. His versatility is probably his biggest asset as he can produce from there different spots along the defensive front.
Dontari Poe, who was McCoy’s teammate with the Carolina Panthers in 2019, would also join the Cowboys roster on a two-year deal worth up to 10 million. Poe is a near 350-pound anchor that will presumably takeover 1-technique duties. Even with his massive size, he can take snaps at defensive end in a 3-4 set. This makes signing him even more valuable seeing as the Cowboys are going to more of a hybrid scheme with multiple defensive fronts although their base will still be a 4-3.
Neville Gallimore, who the Cowboys drafted with the 82nd overall pick in the third round, is another added piece on the interior. His explosive first step, power, and pursuit skills will have him on the field a lot as a rookie. Much like McCoy and Poe, Gallimore is extremely versatile with the ability to play both the 1-technique and the 3-technique.
All the different ways the Cowboys can use McCoy, Poe, and Gallimore can cause a lot of chaos for offensive lines inside which will allow Lawrence to dominate coming off the left edge. As mentioned earlier, Lawrence’s value can’t be measured purely on sacks. However, with a much more effective interior defensive line Lawrence could see his sack totals go back to double-digits, and with him always being a terror against the run, 2020 is setting up to be monstrous for number 90.