The Dallas Cowboys’ approach to this offseason has been no secret.
They have searched for bargains in the open market, adding youthful and athletic players with presumably high upsides but very little production to this point in their professional careers.
Defensive End Benson Mayowa fits this blueprint to a “T.”
The former Seattle Seahawk, but more recently former Oakland Raider, joined the Cowboys after the Raiders failed to match the Cowboys’ offer sheet to Mayowa during free agency.
The questions surrounding the Cowboys’ pass rush and defensive end situation are clear, but the addition of Mayowa seemed to not mean much for the immediate future at first. Fans believed the team had added a rotational player who would see occasional snaps, and would have a chance to gain more playing time week by week.
Instead, Mayowa may be asked to start as soon as week one for the team, and will be forced to fill a big role for the first time during his early career in the league.
So, the team must now figure out what everyone around the Cowboys from fans to coaches wants to know, is Benson Mayowa up to the challenge?
Of course, only time will tell if Mayowa is truly ready to contribute as a consistent pass rusher this season or at anytime during his career.
We can take an educated guess about what to expect from Mayowa from his past performances, however.
After receiving only one offer out of high school, Benson signed on to the Idaho Vandals and made the most of his chance, finishing his college career with 10 sacks and 70 tackles.
It is important to note that Mayowa entered college just under 200 pounds, but left Idaho at a stout 6’3″ 240. He turned himself into the player he had always wanted to be because he had a chip on his shoulder, and this chip has followed him into the NFL.
After leaving Idaho Mayowa was once again overlooked, this time during the NFL Draft. As an undrafted free agent, Mayowa signed with the Seattle Seahawks in 2013 before joining the Raiders in 2014.
Mayowa entered the league as a 4-3 defensive end, the exact role he will be asked to play in Dallas. After joining the Raiders, however, he was asked to play as the 3-4 edge rushing outside linebacker at times as well. This speaks to Mayowa’s versatility and athleticism, showing that he is comfortable in space, but more importantly to the Cowboys, has experience playing with his hand on the ground.
With the Raiders a year ago Mayowa played 376 snaps in 12 games, averaging about 31 snaps per game. In his 30 career games played, Mayowa has only recorded two sacks.
No, that is not a good number to look at if you are a hopeful Cowboys fan, but it is the truth.
Of course, it is hard to find time in Oakland as an edge rusher with all of the high draft picks the franchise has invested into the position.
He won’t have this problem in Dallas, that much is guaranteed.
While he has gained over 40 pounds since entering college, Mayowa is still rather undersized for the position. This of course makes you wonder if he can be strong enough to take on offensive tackles in the 4-3 scheme, set the edge, and shed blockers to make plays.
What Mayowa does have going for him, however, is his arm length. Similar to his teammate, rookie defensive end Charles Tapper, Mayowa can make up for his lack of weight with a quick first step and getting hands-on the offensive lineman immediately. Because of these long arms, Mayowa can create separation from the offensive tackle and win the leverage battle at the line of scrimmage.
Mayowa also ran a 4.65 40 yard dash at the combine, which speaks more to his athleticism and comfortability in space. While Mayowa is certainly not a bruiser at defensive end, and is light for the position, his arm length and athleticism impress teams, and give him a chance in the league.
There are certainly more questions than answers with Mayowa’s game in Dallas as of right now. What we do know, however, is that he is young, long, lanky, and athletic. All qualities which defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli seems to value in his defensive ends.
Turning just 25 years old this season, Benson Mayowa will have the opportunity early in the season to claim the starting defensive end position full time while filling in for Randy Gregory and Demarcus Lawrence.
Benson Mayowa is yet another athletic edge rusher who fits the blueprint the Cowboys have laid out for their defensive linemen. Hopefully, he can fulfill the Cowboys needs from game one against New York.