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Scouting Notes: Tapper, Taco, And ‘Tre Begin To Show Who They Are

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys' Rookies To Begin Training Camp Wednesday At The Star
Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys are back, and at least in the preseason, they are 1-0. After defeating the Arizona Cardinals 20-18 on Thursday night the team was all smiles, but certain aspects of the game should still "worry" fans.

At least to a certain extent.

Of course I am not here to overreact to one playoff game, especially not the Hall of Fame game, as the regular season is over a full month away from kicking off. Still, it is useful to analyze the way the defensive ends played last night, as at least three of them are expected to be vital to the Dallas rotation this season.

Taco CharltonCowboys Minicamp: Taco Charlton Impresses At LDE, Who Emerges At RDE? 2

Let's start with the first round pick.

To be honest, Taco Charlton played exactly how I expected Taco Charlton to play. As a pass rusher, he simply isn't explosive enough to beat NFL tackles with any type of consistency. His go-to move is the spin, but the move looks neither explosive nor athletic, and the Cardinals' tackles stoned it all night.

Against the run, Charlton ended up on the ground far too often. Now, he wasn't getting blown off the ball and driven down, but he still must learn to keep his feet, be an athlete, and stay active throughout the entire play.

Of the three most "important" defensive ends which played Thursday night, Charlton was the least impressive. But, as I said, that was to be expected.

Damontre MooreCowboys' Pass Rush: Who Will Be QB Sack Leader In 2017? 2

Overall, I thought it was a good night for defensive end Damontre Moore. Despite his somewhat troubled past as a player, Moore has always flashed some rushing ability when available to play.

Back when Moore was first signed, I projected him to be a solid rotational player in a film-review piece. After last night, I am sticking to that evaluation.

At the very least Damontre Moore was disruptive in pass rush throughout the night. On first look, he seemed to play better last night than he really ever did with Seattle in 2016. He also looked functionally stronger than he was last season, and that's a very good sign.

My one issue with Moore's play is that he seems to lack a pass rushing plan at times. Too often he rushed right upfield, and though he collapsed the pocket a bit, he didn't really cause any pressure to the quarterback. As the game went on, however, Moore flashed some inside-counters a few times, which was nice to see.

Charles Tapper

Dallas Cowboys: 5 Players To Watch At Rookie Minicamp 3

31 July 2016: Charles Tapper (79)
of the Dallas Cowboys during training camp at City of Oxnard Fields in Oxnard, California. Photo by James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

The man we had all been waiting to see made some important strides Thursday night. Of three defensive ends I've discussed, Tapper had the best night.

With an explosive first step and the speed to rush upfield, Tapper pressured and collapsed the pocket on multiple occasions against the Cardinals. Like his teammates, however, he lacks a pass rushing repertoire, which he will need to develop.

He did flash a nice inside-counter move last night which led to a hit on quarterback Trevor Knight. But, overall, Tapper needs to become more methodical in his pass rush and work his hands better than he did last night.

Those two sentences can be said about all three of these guys, though. Even with that criticism, it was Tapper who had the best game and flashed the highest ceiling. With the best ability to bend the corner of the three ends, he was much less liable to get run passed the quarterback.

As he continues to develop throughout the preseason and regular season, it will be fun to see how good he can become.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and am currently a college student. Lets get going.

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2 Comments
  • John Williams

    Pretty excited to see Tapper in action. Really think he’s going to have a nice career.

  • Fatfan

    I agree on Tapper, and am looking forward to seeing him improve, and become more than his 4th Round status is expected of him. Charlton on the other hand…well let’s just say I hope he proves me wrong. I think his ceiling is average as a DE I the NFL.

Star Blog

Does DT David Irving Have a Future With the Cowboys?

Brian Martin

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Does DT David Irving Have a Future With Cowboys?
Albert Pena/CSM/REX/Shutter

The 2018 season was supposed to be a big one for Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle David Irving. It was supposed to be the year he would finally put everything together both on and off the field. Unfortunately, that's not what will happen and he will once again miss the first four games of the season due to a suspension.

Just like in 2017, David Irving will miss the first four games of the 2018 season this year because he violated the substance abuse policy once again. It's definitely not the way he probably would've liked to start off the season, especially since it's a contract year. But, it is what it is now.

It wasn't all that long ago that David Irving was performing like one of the best defensive tackles in the entire NFL. He absolutely dominated last season and ranked right up there at the top in quarterback sacks amongst the defensive tackles. He finished with seven QB sacks in just eight games. That's nearly a sack a game.

There is no denying how talented David Irving is and how he can impact a game when he's on the field. Unfortunately, it's the off the field stuff that has probably kept him from receiving a long-term contract from the Dallas Cowboys so far. This latest incident might have shut that door completely.

David Irving

Dallas Cowboys DT David Irving

Quite a few Dallas Cowboys fans, including myself, thought the organization made a mistake by placing just a second-round tender on David Irving this offseason. A lot of us believed some other team would jump at the chance of surrendering a second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft to secure his services. Surprisingly enough though, that didn't happen.

The Cowboys gamble paid off and David Irving will once again be a member of the team this season. But, beyond that his chances of sticking around doesn't look too good.

David Irving has become his own worst enemy. On the field he is one of the best pass rushing defensive tackles in the entire NFL. His name could be mentioned in the same breath as the Los Angeles Rams Pro-Bowl DT Aaron Donald, who should break the bank as soon as he receives his next contract.

I don't think it's a stretch to put Irving in the same company as Aaron Donald. He's that good when he's on the field and might just be a little bit more versatile. The sad thing is he can't be trusted, which will hurt negotiations when looking to sign a long-term contract after the 2018 season.

Teams know Irving can't really be relied upon to play an entire season. The Cowboys after all have given him every chance to prove himself, but time and time again he has let them down. This latest suspension might be the last straw.

It's one thing to keep a talented player around when they aren't costing a lot of money. But, it's another when you're investing big money in someone you can't fully trust. After all, actions speak louder than words. That could be why the Cowboys risked placing the second-round tender on Irving in the first place.

I personally have a hard time seeing David Irving sticking around after the 2018 season. I'm not against it, but there are more proven players who need to be locked up long-term and they don't come with the same kind of risk. Irving's future with the Cowboys doesn't look too good in my opinion.

Would you be on board with the Cowboys signing David Irving long-term?



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Sean’s Scout: How Cowboys DTs Handled David Irving’s 2017 Absence

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: How Cowboys DTs Handled David Irving's 2017 Absence

For the second consecutive season, the Dallas Cowboys will be without the services of Defensive Tackle David Irving for their first four games. When Irving has been on the field, he's been a disruptive force at the all-important under tackle position, something the Cowboys can only hope he'll continue to be for at least 12 regular season games in 2018.

In his absence last year, the Cowboys allowed 107.5 rushing yards per game and another 231.75 through the air. While these numbers aren't far off from the team's final total of 104 rushing yards and 214 passing yards allowed per game, Irving's presence was surely missed on Rod Marinelli's defense.

I put on the tape to study how the Cowboys handled Irving's prior suspension, primarily watching the likes of Stephen Paea, Brian Price, Maliek Collins, and Tyrone Crawford play in rotation at defensive tackle.

With Paea no longer in the league and Collins dealing with another broken foot that expects to sideline him through most of training camp, the Cowboys will have to find a mostly new approach at DT starting next month in Oxnard.

Here is what I took away from the players still on the roster for 2018 that will have their chance to step in for David Irving.

DT Maliek Collins

DT4

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Any talks of the Cowboys maintaining a high level of play at defensive tackle without Irving has to start with Maliek Collins. Drafted as the starter at 3T-DT in 2016, Collins flashed incredible potential at this position despite missing most of camp as a rookie.

Last season, Collins was forced to play more as a one technique (1T) once Irving returned to the lineup, making up for the loss of both Paea and Price. Using his strength and stocky frame well as a 1T, Collins filled in admirably at this new spot -- though some fans still believe he was held back from developing further as a pass rusher.

When I watched Collins in the first four weeks of 2017 on tape, I didn't see the same technician of a pass rusher at the 3T position. Particularly in week one against the New York Giants, Collins struggled mightily with his pad level. This made is easy for interior offensive linemen to knock Collins off-balance, where he's effectively removed from the play due to a lack of recovery speed.

Collins best plays were produced when he was able to quickly shoot a gap to get up the field, or play with his hands above his eyes in overpowering his blocker to flow down the line. These are all desirable traits for a 1T tackle, which the Cowboys played with two of for the majority of snaps in weeks one through four.

Rod Marinelli was able to make a combination of Collins and Stephen Paea work on the interior. Similarly to Collins, there were flash plays from Paea, but overall this duo struggled to push the pocket much more than expected.

Keeping contain and creating penetration were two areas the Cowboys played at a below average level without David Irving last year.

DT2

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Just how much they'll allow Maliek Collins to change this, depending on the position he lines up at, will go a long way in how well the Cowboys are prepared for this season's dilemma of not having #95.

DT Tyrone Crawford

I can see why Tyrone Crawford was a fan of moving out to the right defensive end position later in 2017, after watching his limited reps at DT from the start of the season. This is a team captain, veteran player that's always competing on every single snap.

With that said, Crawford took a beating when trying to rush against double teams and get up the field. If Crawford's initial rush move is stopped, he has a hard time freeing himself up to make a play, getting drawn into his blocker's frame.

It remains unknown if Randy Gregory will be reinstated to play RDE for the Cowboys this season, but the team also feels good about rookie Dorance Armstrong and FA signing Kony Ealy at this spot. This depth, paired with their immediate need at 3T, means that Tyrone Crawford could be a likely candidate to kick back inside.

DT3

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The Cowboys won't have to worry about Crawford not doing everything he can to make an impact at this spot, but the difference from his reps to David Irving's will be noticeable should this be the Cowboys plan.

DT Brian Price

Brian Price finds himself in an interesting position for the 2018 season, re-signed by the Cowboys after losing 2017 to injury after just eight games. Price is solely a 1T-DT, which as previously mentioned is a spot that feels occupied by Maliek Collins.

Still a potentially valuable piece of the Cowboys rotation up front, it's hard to imagine Brian Price giving the Cowboys any of what they'll be missing from Irving. These are simply two completely different players.

DT1

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Price did impress on tape from the first four weeks of the season, disengaging quickly to play with impressive range for a bigger "nose tackle" type.

The Cowboys priority at DT without Irving should be tightening up against the run, something Price undoubtedly helps them with.

 ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

We've heard plenty of great things about newly acquired DT Jihad Ward, a converted defensive end from the Oakland Raiders, as a player that was unavailable to the Cowboys last season. With his new defensive coordinator being a fan, Ward has a chance to turn heads at 3T while allowing the rest of the Cowboys DTs to slide into place.

There's a reason David Irving is worth the setbacks he's caused the Cowboys, and it's because athletic DTs like him that get to the quarterback at a high rate are so hard to find. This is evident by the fact that the Cowboys defensive line, as currently constructed, features sufficient depth at 1T but lacks 3T players behind Ward.

Putting this much pressure on a player traded for on the third day of the draft is never ideal roster building, but Ward could potentially be aided by both Tyrone Crawford and Maliek Collins as the Cowboys patch things together against the Panthers, Giants, Seahawks, and Lions to open 2018.

Other options further down the roster include Datone Jones, Daniel Ross, Lewis Neal, and Richard Ash.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: How Cowboys DTs Handled David Irving’s 2017 Absence" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Tavon Austin, the Cowboys Best Playmaker Not Named Ezekiel Elliott?

Brian Martin

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Tavon Austin, Cowboys Best Playmaker Not Named Ezekiel Elliott?

If I were to ask you right now who will end up being the Dallas Cowboys playmakers in 2018, what would be your answer? I don't know what my answer would be other than Ezekiel Elliott, but one player does kind of stick out above the rest, wide receiver/running back Tavon Austin.

The Dallas Cowboys acquired Tavon Austin from the Los Angeles Rams during the 2018 NFL Draft. It was a move that was met with some skepticism from many fans, but I for one like the trade.

A lot of NFL teams are overvaluing draft picks, especially later in the draft. The Dallas Cowboys only gave up a sixth-round draft pick to acquire Austin. It's unlikely anybody else drafted there would contribute this season, but Austin surely will.

It really looks as if the Dallas Cowboys have a clear plan for Tavon Austin this season. That's really a good thing considering all of the unknown with the rest of the offensive playmakers.

It's still a little strange to think about how much turnover the Dallas Cowboys have on the offensive side of the ball. Dak Prescott will pretty much be throwing to an entirely different group of wide receivers this season and will have a new tight end as well. Right now, it's a little scary to think about all of that change and whether or not it will be successful.

Ezekiel Elliott and Tavon Austin

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott and WR/RB Tavon Austin

Luckily, the Cowboys still have Ezekiel Elliott, who will once again be the engine that propels the entire offense. He is really the Cowboys only playmaker who we know will without a doubt find success this year. Despite having a down year in 2017, for good reason, he is still considered one of the best running backs in the league.

We should find that comforting considering all of the unknown about the rest of the offense. No one really knows what they are getting from Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, or any of the other WRs. Cole Beasley of course may be the most reliable receiving target, but I wouldn't exactly call him a playmaker.

When I think of a playmaker, I'm envisioning someone who can take over a game by themselves. Ezekiel Elliott is more than capable of doing that, but I don't know if there is anybody else on the Cowboys roster who would fall into that category.

Tavon Austin may not be someone who can solely take over a game, but I think he could be the next best thing. He is a dangerous player any time he touches the ball due to his speed and elusiveness. He can hurt a defense in so many different ways and that should get you a little bit excited.

Unfortunately, we don't really know how the Dallas Cowboys or offensive coordinator Scott Linehan plan to utilize Austin's unique skill set just yet. Linehan doesn't have the best track record of being able to get the ball in the hands of his best playmakers, but hopefully things will change this year.

I may end up being in the minority here, but I'm going to predict that Tavon Austin ends up being the Dallas Cowboys best playmaker, not named Ezekiel Elliott, this season. I think he can make a difference as a receiver, running back, and on special teams as well.

What do you think about WR/RB Tavon Austin as a playmaker?



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