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Sean’s Scout: DE Dorance Armstrong Has Upside to Fill Marinelli’s Rotation

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Defensive End Dorance Armstrong Has Upside to Fill Marinelli's Rotation

With the 116th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys bolstered their pass rush by drafting Kansas Defensive End Dorance Armstrong. Adding the productive rusher with their first of two picks in the round, using the 137th pick on Tight End Dalton Schultz, the Cowboys will go into camp this summer with legitimate competition for spots in Rod Marinelli's DL rotation.

With 10 sacks in 2016 for the Jayhawks, Armstrong certainly put up numbers worthy of a spot in the NFL, although the Cowboys will now have to figure out why the 6035 (6' 3 5/8") rusher only got to the quarterback 1.5 times last year.

Here is my full scouting report on new Cowboys DE Dorance Armstrong.

Defensive End Dorance Armstrong: Strengths

It's often said that the later rounds of the NFL Draft are about drafting prospects for their traits. As a fourth round pick, Dorance Armstrong is the perfect blend of production, NFL-ready size, and plenty of workable rush traits.

Armstrong is explosive with his first step, forcing offensive tackles off balance. From here, Armstrong will often rely on his speed and violent hands to run the arc and get to the quarterback. At his best, Armstrong will not give his blockers a large surface area to attack, playing with more than enough upper body strength to win with power too.

Armstrong is comfortable transitioning between rush moves, showing off counters and long-arm techniques that were successful for him when he gets to the level of the QB. Doing so is rarely a problem for a player with the lean build of Armstrong, who can flip his hips and snap the corner.

Armstrong1

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As a run defender, Armstrong plays with a patented Rod Marinelli motor. Armstrong excels at scraping down the line to chase the football, delivering plenty of big hits in the hole. Stacking up a red zone run against Texas Tech before stripping the ball away and creating a turnover, Armstrong was always looking to make a play for a Kansas defense that lacked talent around him.

Defensive End Dorance Armstrong: Weaknesses

As mentioned, Armstrong's production dipped following a stellar 2016 campaign. This inconsistency was part of Armstrong's game due to some recurring weaknesses on his tape.

Armstrong2

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Dorance Armstrong is an upright player that will struggle to get his pad level where it needs to be on every snap. When the 257 pound defensive end doesn't jump the snap to begin running around his man, his lower body work can be underwhelming. This takes away a lot of Armstrong's effectiveness in his long arms, as blockers can recover against a rusher that lacks fluidity when changing directions.

When Armstrong creates first contact with a blocker, he needs to be quicker in disengaging to complete the rush. The Cowboys will love the punch this rookie DE can play with, but against the likes of La'el Collins and Tyron Smith in training camp he'll need to put all of his traits together on a much more consistent basis.

It didn't feel like Armstrong had a true plan for every snap he played in college, which every great pass rusher has. There is more than enough to like about Armstrong developing this cerebral trait, but it remains part of his projection as opposed to a given strength.

As of right now, the Cowboys first pick of the fourth round is a rusher that will flash in a variety of ways - none often enough than the other to box him in as a specific type of defender. Instead, the Cowboys will need to quickly figure out which strengths of Armstrong carry to the next level, and put him in position to use them often.

Defensive End Dorance Armstrong: Summary

Physically, Dorance Armstrong resembles current Cowboys sack artist DeMarcus Lawrence well. Also testing as a better athlete in several areas, Armstrong is likely another left defensive end for Dallas to add into their rotation.

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Cowboys Defensive Ends Dorance Armstrong (left) and DeMarcus Lawrence (right).

With Taco Charlton also settling into this rotational LDE role behind Lawrence, simply making this football team may not be easy for Armstrong. A player that plenty of other teams would love to have given his upside though, I believe Armstrong does enough in his first offseason to warrant the Cowboys investment.

Armstrong is certainly a project, but one that is worthwhile for Rod Marinelli and the Cowboys, as he possesses pass rush traits that simply can't be taught at this stage - pairing them with above average strength and a high motor to earn his spot in the NFL.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: DE Dorance Armstrong Has Upside to Fill Marinelli’s Rotation" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. EverybodyTalks

    May 5, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    Great motor. Doesn’t Quite. Physical specimen. Good bend.
    Will it translate in the NFL?
    We will know soon enough!

  2. Joe Conti

    May 6, 2018 at 11:17 pm

    Kansas played a 3-4 last year and he played end thats why his production dipped plus like you said he was really the only good player on their defense

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Star Blog

Could Loaded FA Safety Market Drive Down Earl Thomas’ Value?

Brian Martin

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Could Loaded FA Safety Class Drive Down Earl Thomas' Price Tag?

It's no secret the Dallas Cowboys and Earl Thomas share a mutual interest in one another. Thomas has publicly stated his desire to join America's Team and the Cowboys did their darndest to make that happen last offseason. Nothing ever materialized a year ago, but it's looking as if the stars have finally aligned and a union between the two could merely be just weeks away.

Surprisingly enough, the Dallas Cowboys may have dodged a bullet last year when the Seattle Seahawks refused to part ways with their All-Pro safety. Not only would they have had to surrender a high draft pick, but they would've also had to extend Thomas' contract. Fortunately, timing is everything and now the Cowboys might just have to do the latter.

A potential contract between the Cowboys and Thomas is of course what I want to dive in today. I'm not going to get into numbers right now, because it's nearly impossible to project any kind of contract for any safety this offseason, especially for the former Seahawk, Earl Thomas.

Earl Thomas

Free Agent FS Earl Thomas (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Right now, it's a little difficult to know who might have the advantage in contract negotiations, Earl Thomas or the Dallas Cowboys. A lot of times the one that has the leverage, however slight, is the one that gets the better of the deal. As surprising as it may be, the Cowboys might just have the advantage here and I'll tell you why.

First off, this year's market for free agent safeties is pretty stacked with starting caliber players. See below:

  • Earl Thomas
  • Landon Collins
  • Lamarcus Joyner
  • Tyrann Mathieu
  • Adrian Amos
  • Clayton Geathers
  • Ha-Ha Clinton Dix
  • Glover Quinn
  • Tre Boston
  • Kenny Vaccaro
  • George Iloka
  • Jimmie Ward
  • Adrian Phillips

Earl Thomas is obviously the headliner here amongst the free agent safeties, but having so many starting caliber players available could drive down Thomas' market value just a bit. This is especially true when you take into consideration the market for FA safeties just a year ago. It was almost a complete standstill last year, with only Kurt Coleman signing a three-year $16.5 million deal with the New Orleans Saints. Not even the "Honey Badger" Tyrann Mathieu could get more than a one-year deal.

With all of these safeties available in free agency, we could be looking at another stingy market. This of course could be good or bad news for the Dallas Cowboys, especially as it pertains to Earl Thomas. Since he is the top FA safety available, everything could once again be at a standstill until he is signed.

Earl Thomas

Free Agent FS Earl Thomas (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Of course, we all know this will ultimately come down to determining Earl Thomas' market value. There is no denying he is still arguably the best free safety in the game today, but there are concerns about his age (30) and the two lower leg injuries he's sustained in the past three years.

Even with the loaded free agent market of starting caliber safeties and Thomas' age and recent injury history, he's still likely to receive a contract that earns him $10 million annually, give or take. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he gets another four-year deal worth $40 million, $25.7 million guaranteed, with a $9.5 million signing bonus like he signed with the Seahawks back in 2014.

The Cowboys of course would probably find a four-year $40 million deal for Earl Thomas acceptable. They would more than likely frontload the contract with a lot of protection in the details. They have the cap space to make this happen and still be able to sign their own, so money shouldn't be a problem.

Now, whether or not Thomas' market value may dip a little due to all of the above mentioned reasons will be something we will have to wait and find out. Regardless, I'd be a little shocked if Earl Thomas doesn't finish his career with the Dallas Cowboys.

Do you think Earl Thomas' market value will take a little hit this offseason?



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Star Blog

Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors

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Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors

What a difference a receiver makes, right? As Dallas fans, we know the impact of a player who can shake coverage, get open, and catch the ball. How was the season going before the Cowboys pulled the trigger for Amari Cooper in the deal with the Raiders? Cooper proved to be the lightning rod and a turning point in a season that was growing increasingly dismal. Dak Prescott and Cooper went together like peanut butter and jelly, while the Cowboys stormed to a division title and a postseason berth.

Now, imagine all of that times two… maybe even two and a half if Antonio Brown could be had from the Steelers. Scary right? We understand there’s only one ball to go around but that didn’t stop Kevin Durant from joining the Warriors, did it?

As of this writing, the best online sportsbooks like Intertops, are dealing Dallas as the seventh of 16 choices to win the NFC championship at odds of 12-1. Imagine how those odds would shrink if Brown wore a Cowboys uniform next season, giving Prescott the luxury of not one upper echelon wideout but that plus an elite receiver. Hut, hut, hut and a few clouds of smoke later the Cowboys would be moving the chains or celebrating in the endzone.

Brown and Cooper would be a devastating combination with Ezekiel Elliott coming out of the backfield. Brown was made for Dallas, it gives him an even grander stage than the one he shared with Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh.

Despite the fact that the 'Boys haven’t won a Super Bowl since Barry Switzer was roaming the sidelines in the mid-90s, America’s Team still resides in Dallas. But we need a game-changer and Brown is just such an athlete. But what do we give in return and will that cost be worth whatever productive years Brown has left after this one? Let’s not forget that the mercurial Miami native will be 31 when the season begins and men who make a living with their legs don’t get better at that age. But Brown is so good and so unique that, even if he drops half a click, he's still amongst the best in the game.

That level of talent is hard to replicate and it could be the missing piece which allows Dallas to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender next season and the year after.

However, up to this point, we’ve been very good at dreaming of a Brown to Dallas trade but haven’t quite worked out the details. It takes two to tango and if we expect to get the Steelers’ attention we need to give them something valuable in return. Dallas surrendered their first-round pick (27th) this season when they traded for Cooper so that’s no longer an asset.

Pittsburgh would be vying for a first-round pick (and likely more) for Brown's services but some have speculated Dallas would consider dealing rookie-standout Leighton Vander Esch.

Wait... what? We know, you’re clutching your pearls, and the words are stuck in your gasp. We get it. The kid was a home run this past season, leading the Dallas defense in tackles and earning a Pro Bowl invitation in his inaugural NFL season. But this would be a Faustian deal.

The Cowboys give up a player who is poised to be a stud for years to come for a playmaker in Brown that could render a Super Bowl in the immediate future. Brown's expiration date will surely turn his milk sour sooner rather than later, but in the here and now, Antonio Brown could be the bell cow who leads the Cowboys to the promised land before he’s put out to pasture.

Just something to think about...



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Star Blog

2018 In Review: CB Anthony Brown Bounces Back

Kevin Brady

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Anthony Brown's Resurgence A Great Sign for Cowboys Defense
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

To say it's been an up-and-down start to the career of young cornerback Anthony Brown would be an understatement.

As a sixth round pick in 2016, everything Brown contributed during his rookie season was a plus. Due to injury he was asked to step into a greater role as the season went on, and he performed well enough to make the front office comfortable allowing multiple veterans to walk for nothing in free agency the following Spring. Brown looked like a legitimate starting cornerback in the league, and when Dallas brought in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis during the next draft, the young secondary seemed set.

Then 2017 happened. And Anthony Brown struggled. Really struggled.

These struggles, coupled with the emergence of both Lewis and Awuzie during their own rookie seasons, made Brown's status heading into 2018 rather uncertain. Some wondered if they would trade him for a day three pick, others thought Brown could even end up being cut. Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown were slated to compete for the nickel cornerback job in training camp, and as it turned out, all Brown needed was that one extra chance to compete.

Brown won the job outright during the preseason, and began 2018 as the starting nickel. A fan favorite, most thought Lewis would reclaim his rightful spot on the depth chart sooner or later, but Anthony Brown's play (and Kris Richard's preferences) kept Lewis on the bench for much of the season.

Simply put, Anthony Brown balled in 2018, and was the Cowboys' second best corner for most of the year. By the end of the season Chidobe Awuzie had regained form, but Brown and Byron Jones were the most consistently reliable corners on the roster all of 2018.

Brown tallied 44 tackles, 2 sacks, and an interception in 2018, and finished third on the team in pass breakups with 8. As the slot corner Brown had an excellent season, especially for a former sixth round pick.

Now he enters a contract year, and with the Cowboys having so many guys to pay over the next two offseasons, he could find himself as an unrestricted free agent in 2020. And if he can keep up his play from last year moving forward, he could be in for a nice payday that Spring.



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