The Dallas Cowboys unquestionably have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. In ESPN’s series of ranking the top 10 players at 11 different positions Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, Tyron Smith, and Zack Martin have all been recognized as some of the very best in the league. Now, you can add the Cowboys top pass rusher to that list.
DeMarcus Lawrence was ranked as the 10th best edge rusher in the NFL (5th in the NFC).
Lawrence totaled 25 sacks in 2017 and 2018, which was more than Khalil Mack and Von Miller over that span. After signing a five-year, $105 million extension before the 2019 season, expectations went through the roof for Lawrence. If you look strictly at sacks, last season was a disappointment for him, but you have to look deeper than that.
According to Pro Football Focus, his 9.8% run stop percentage (tackles that constitute a loss) was tied for eighth in the NFL (third amongst edge rushers who played 50% of team’s snaps). Also per PFF, Lawrence’s 83.3 run defense grade was tied for sixth for all edge rushers.
Here is every TFL by #Cowboys DE Demarcus Lawrence in 2019: pic.twitter.com/CcDMosAY1c
Robert Quinn, who signed a five-year, $70 million dollar deal with the Chicago Bears, got plenty of his 11.5 sacks last season in Dallas because of the constant double teams Lawrence had to face.
Lawrence’s low sack total from a year ago hasn’t changed the opinion of him in the eyes of some evaluators around the league.
“At some point you have to go through somebody — if you can’t, the tackle will sit soft on you and speed will be mitigated,” said an NFC exec. “[Lawrence] is one of the best at using his power.”
The former All-Pro will have plenty of help along the defensive front in 2020 after the Cowboys had a pretty eventful offseason. Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe will anchor the interior as upgrades over the departed Maliek Collins and Antwaun Woods. With Aldon Smith now on the roster, a hopefully soon to be reinstated Randy Gregory, and rookie Bradlee Anae the Cowboys can throw plenty of bodies at offenses on the line of scrimmage, thus making Lawrence’s job a lot easier with more one-on-one opportunities.
“He’s not as consistent a pass-rusher as I’d like, but he’s deserving,” a veteran defensive coach said. “Can rush inside and out.”
Make no mistake about it, Lawrence is still one of the better edge rushers in the NFL.