When teams turn in your draft card in the first round, you’re looked at as an impact player with an immediate return on the investment, sounds good right? Unfortunately, things don’t always pan out in that manner, such is true with the underwhelming start to the career of Taco Charlton, the 28th pick in the 2017 NFL draft.
Taco’s size and athleticism got him into the league, and with those traits came a lot of expectations, which the Dallas Cowboys are still waiting to see. Charlton appeared in all 16 games his rookie year but was unable to crack the starting lineup, and his production wasn’t much to swoon over either, with only 19 tackles and 3 sacks.
2018 started with some promise as Charlton had a sack and a fumble recovery in the teams first home game against the Giants in week 2, but that would be his only sack of the season. Even though he managed 7 starts, a shoulder injury limited him to only appearing in 11 games, not ideal when you’re still trying to live up to being a first-round selection.
Surgery to fix the nagging shoulder injury was successful in late January and had Charlton on track to be at all of the team’s offseason activities, that was until a setback that occurred in May. He posted a picture on Twitter showing himself in a walking boot just after having arthroscopic surgery on his ankle. With an expected recovery time of 6-8 weeks, he’ll be on track for training camp later this month. This is critical considering his missed OTA’s and mandatory minicamp. There’s no shortage of confidence from Charlton, though, saying this post surgery. ” Another minor setback but we working to get back right over here, no let(ting) off the gas, ” Charlton said. Underperforming is one thing, but once you add an inability to be available to your teammates, your chances of proving yourself become that much harder and frustrating to deal with.
Unless unfortunate circumstances arise, the Cowboys have their starters at defensive end with DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn. Kerry Hyder was brought in during free agency to provide some veteran experience to the group. Randy Gregory is often unavailable himself with what seems to be regular suspensions, but once on the field, he has proven to have a lot more upside than Charlton. Lastly, there’s Joe Jackson, the defensive end from Miami the Cowboys took in the 5th round, who is looked at as another potential building block for the defensive line.
So where does that leave Taco? If 2019 is as disappointing as his first two years, it could be his last in a Cowboys uniform. Some say the NFL really stands for “Not For Long”. Having said all that, if Taco Charlton doesn’t want that to be his destiny, this upcoming season has to be treated as the most important of his career.