#90 DeMarcus Lawrence
DeMarcus Lawrence a.k.a. “Tank” was born in Aiken, South Carolina on April 28, 1992. Lawrence is a defensive end in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys, who drafted him in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He played college football at Butler Community College before transferring to Boise State.
DeMarcus Lawrence attended Silver Bluff High School in South Carolina, a perennial small school powerhouse. Under head coach Al Lown, the Silver Bluff Bulldogs have won more than 200 games and five state titles.
Coach Lown played the relatively small DeMarcus Lawrence at tight end his first few seasons in high school. Thanks to a growth spurt in 10th grade, the 6’2” 210 pound Lawrence finally found his calling on the defensive side of the ball at defensive end and defensive tackle. Lawrence recorded 97 tackles and three sacks as a defensive tackle his senior year.
Lawrence wasn’t considered a top level recruit during his time at Silver Bluff. He did however help lead his team to a 9-3 record his senior season and was the Class AA All-Region choice.
Unfortunately, he didn’t receive a whole lot of interest from major colleges and it wasn’t just because of his size either. DeMarcus Lawrence struggled in the classroom because he didn’t take his schooling seriously. It ended up affecting the interest he received from collegiate programs.
DeMarcus Lawrence also excelled in baseball and basketball. During his final campaign of his high school career he helped to lead the Bulldogs basketball team to a 17-5 record.
DeMarcus Lawrence didn’t receive any scholarship offers to play football collegiately, but he continued his gridiron career at Butler Community College in Kansas.
DeMarcus Lawrence started off his collegiate career at Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas. Lawrence played two years at Butler before ultimately deciding to transfer to Boise State.
In 2010, he enjoyed a red-shirt season. The following season in 2011, he earned the first team J.C. Gridwire and second-team NJCAA All-American honors. The team won the Jayhawk Conference and Region IV Championships, finishing the year ranked second in the national poll. DeMarcus Lawrence was also named to the first-team All-Jayhawk Conference with 72 tackles (50 solos), the second most on the team. He also registered 12 sacks and recovered four fumbles, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
Lawrence was ranked 38th on the Rivals.com JUCO Top 50 list and after his 2011 season, he signed with Boise State in December.
Lawrence started 11 games at weak-side defensive end during his first year at Boise State in 2012. He recorded 48 tackles (24 solos), led the team and league with 9 ½ quarterback sacks, forced four fumbles that tied for eighth nationally, recovered two fumbles, and had one interception. DeMarcus Lawrence also recorded the only blocked kick for Boise State. His first year performance for the Broncos earned him All-Mountain West Conference first-team honors.
DeMarcus Lawrence started 12 games at weak-side defensive end in 2013 and finished third on the team with 72 tackles (39 solos). Lawrence ranked 10th in the nation with 10 ½ quarterback sacks and ranked third in the nation with 20 ½ stops or losses, leading the MWC. After blocking one kick the previous season in 2012, Lawrence followed that up with two blocked field goals in one game against Southern Mississippi. Based on his 2013 performance, he earned All-American second-team honors from Walter Camp and for the second consecutive season, he garnered the All-Mountain West Conference first-team accolades.
For his entire collegiate career, DeMarcus Lawrence started all 34 games he appeared in, recorded 192 tackles (113 solos), 32 quarterback sacks, 53 stops for losses, six fumble recoveries, eight forced fumbles, four pass deflections, and one interception.
Lawrence decided to skip his final year of eligibility and entered the 2014 NFL Draft, and was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round.
2014 NFL Draft
The Dallas Cowboys absolutely had to address the defensive line in the 2014 NFL Draft after waving franchise sack leader, DeMarcus Ware, and losing starters Jay Ratliff and Jason Hatcher to free agency.
The Cowboys decided to address the defensive line in the second round when they made a trade with division rival Washington for their 34th draft pick. For the 34th pick, the Washington Redskins received the Cowboys 47th overall pick in the second round (Trent Murphy) and the 78th pick in the third round (Spencer Long).
With the completion of the trade, the Dallas Cowboys decided to draft the Boise State Broncos defensive end, DeMarcus Lawrence.
The Cowboys viewed Lawrence as the best remaining defensive end in the 2014 NFL Draft and a player that could play as the LEO (left end) or the right defensive end in the Cowboys’ 4-3 scheme.
DeMarcus Lawrence’s professional career didn’t get off to a very good start in 2014. The rookie defensive end fractured his right foot in training camp and had to start the year on injured reserve.
Lawrence’s first appearance on the field as the right defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys was in week 9 against the Arizona Cardinals. Unfortunately, the lost time affected his performance on the field and he finished the regular season with just 11 tackles and zero sacks.
Lawrence did play a significant role in the wild-card playoff game against the Detroit Lions on January 4, 2015.
DeMarcus Lawrence nearly made the play that would have ended the game with the Cowboys leading 24-20, with just about two minutes remaining in the game. Matthew Stafford fumbled deep in Detroit’s territory, but instead of just falling on the ball, DeMarcus Lawrence decided to scoop the ball up and try to score. Unfortunately, Lawrence fumbled and Detroit recovered the ball.
Lawrence would however redeem himself on the ensuing drive. Detroit was facing a 4th and 3, with a minute left in the game. The Lions were nearly in field-goal range, but DeMarcus sacked quarterback Matthew Stafford causing a fumble. Lawrence wisely fell on the football this time and didn’t try to advance it, thus sealing the game for the Dallas Cowboys.
In preparation for the 2015 season, DeMarcus Lawrence transformed his body with the help of the Cowboys’ strength and conditioning program, in hopes of being better prepared for the season.
With the addition of Greg Hardy, DeMarcus Lawrence was moved to left defensive end and would end up having a bigger impact than he did as a rookie. His improved physical presence and pass rushing skills continued to develop on a weekly basis. He had a streak of at least one sack in each of the last seven games, and finished the season with a total of eight. He also finished second on the team with 31 quarterback pressures and 56 tackles.
In January 2016, DeMarcus Lawrence had back surgery that ended up being more serious than expected. DeMarcus Lawrence was penalized the first four games of 2016 due to violating the league’s substance abuse policies.
The total value of DeMarcus Lawrence’s rookie contract is $5,506,648 and is fully guaranteed to make $3,895,138 of that. DeMarcus Lawrence will make an average of $1,376,662 per season over the entirety of his four-year rookie contract.
He is entering the third year of this contract and will make $920,604 and have a cap number of $1,501,813 in 2016. In 2017, Lawrence will make $1,170,906 and will have a cap number of $1,752,115.
He hasn’t really done much to warrant a second contract from the Dallas Cowboys, but if he can keep his nose clean and continue to progress, he could become a fixture on defense for years to come.
Cowboys Defense is Ready to Win Now, Time for Offense to Prove the Same
The Dallas Cowboys lead the NFC East at 1-1, and have a favorable schedule ahead of them. With such an inexperienced roster, early season growing pains were expected, and likely should be still as the team comes off their first win to play in Seattle on Sunday.
Through a season opening clunker in Carolina and hard-earned divisional win against the Giants, the Cowboys have exceeded already high expectations on defense.
With the currently 0-2 Seahawks, Lions, and Texans awaiting Dallas, the time is now for Scott Linehan's offense to hit their stride. It will take more than a five week assessment to determine if the Cowboys are truly playoff contenders for 2018, but it could take even less than that for Cowboys Nation to realize this team is fighting an uphill battle at QB and WR.
Following Dak Prescott's 64-yard touchdown pass to Tavon Austin against the Giants, the Cowboys punted on four of their remaining seven drives. The Cowboys did a better job mixing up their early down play calling to remain ahead of the chains for most of the night, but even still their execution was lacking. Finishing three of ten on third downs, the Cowboys didn't sustain the type of originality on offense that earned them an early cushion.
Thankfully, the Cowboys turning back the clock to 2016 on a clinching touchdown drive of 14 plays would be all the defense needed. Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott would both convert a pair of first downs on the ground. The Cowboys took a 20-3 lead, and more importantly the game clock down to 5:45 with an eight minute and 23 second march.
As such, the Cowboys offense is an enigma. With the return of Brice Butler, the team is currently carrying seven wide receivers and four tight ends.
On defense, the Cowboys are expecting reinforcements in Xavier Woods, Randy Gregory, and David Irving to further bolster this aggressive, blitzing unit in the coming weeks. For the offense, Dallas must make the most out of the unknown depth they have, without any drastic change in style around the corner.
The Cowboys record under Prescott proves they're at their best when Dak is efficient. The ceiling for a new-look Cowboys offense built for Dak is not as high for this reason. Through just two weeks, it's clear that the Cowboys offense will be as good as the sum of its parts - instead of relying on any individual talents.
Cowboys' record when Dak Prescott ... Doesn't throw an interception: 20-4 Records at least a 100.0 passer rating: 15-1 Commits no turnovers: 18-1
After a strong preseason from rookie Wide Receiver Michael Gallup, the third-round pick has played less than half his team's offensive snaps through two games. Cole Beasley has seemed to regain his connection with Prescott, snagging a team high nine catches so far. Terrance Williams has been a non-factor, and the same is surprisingly said about FA acquisition Allen Hurns.
Regardless of what the Cowboys do over the coming weeks, a few narratives and lingering questions about the team feel evident. With the defense set to tee off against the Seahawks sub par OL this week, Rod Marinelli's unit will still likely not receive the credit it deserves heading into week four.
With the task at hand being maintaining their standing atop the division, the Cowboys must also be out to prove they can sustain success without a consistent passing game.
All of this to effectively say, the Cowboys are going to Seattle expecting to control the game on defense. To finish off Russell Wilson in his home opener (already at 0-2), it will take a sharper performance for a full four quarters on offense too.
A win at the Seahawks might not mean as much as it has in past seasons, but in improving the Cowboys record to 2-1 on the way back to AT&T Stadium, it could be all the confidence they need to understand the NFC East is theirs for the taking while continuing to truly find their identity.
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Snap Judgments: Cowboys’ Linebacker Depth Stands Out in Win
The Dallas Cowboys evened their record at 1-1 with their 20-13 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday night. The Cowboys linebackers had a huge impact on the outcome of the game and it wasn't just the guys at the top of the depth chart either. America's Team got contributions from guys at the bottom of the depth chart.
What a difference a year makes.
The Dallas Cowboys worked hard this offseason to fix the linebacker depth that failed them in the 2017 season. When Sean Lee or Anthony Hitchens -- or both -- were sidelined with injuries, Jaylon Smith, Damien Wilson, and the rest of the linebacker group struggled to keep up with opposing offenses. Specifically, in games against the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers the major depth inadequacy was revealed.
One year later, the Dallas Cowboys have a linebacker corp that allows them to go five deep with Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, Joe Thomas, and Damien Wilson all making considerable contributions for the Dallas Cowboys in Sunday nights victory.
Here are the final snap counts for the five linebackers that played a defensive snap against the Giants.
- Jaylon Smith - 57 (84%)
- Sean Lee - 41 (60)
- Leighton Vander Esch - 28 (48%)
- Damien Wilson - 17 (25%)
- Joe Thomas - 14 (21%)
Jaylon Smith led the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night with 10 tackles (seven solo) and played really well roaming sideline to sideline and making plays. He was tasked with the difficult assignment of containing New York Giants Running Back Saquon Barkley and allowed four catches for 41 yards in his coverage area. Smith was credited with three stops or plays that result in a "loss" for the offense (per Pro Football Focus). Smith led the team in snaps for the second straight week.
Sean Lee had a better game on Sunday night than he did in week one. PFF credited him with four stops, four tackles and an assist. Lee allowed two catches for 24 yards on two targets to Wayne Gallman and Evan Engram. Lee pulled his hamstring at the end of the game and was held out the rest of the way for precautionary reasons. He'll be an interesting name to watch on this week's injury report. Age catches up with everyone, but hopefully Sean Lee can stave it off for at least another season.
Rookie Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch saw a big bump in his snap count from week one (17) to week two (28). The rookie played well too. As many players seemed to struggle with tackling Saquon Barkley, Vander Esch was able to bring down the number two overall pick on several occasions. Vander Esch had seven solo tackles in his second career game.
Damien Wilson was the surprise player of the night. He had three tackles on the night, including one on special teams, a sack, and a forced fumble. Though his time on the field might have been short, his impact was certainly felt. His forced fumble led to a field goal that gave the Dallas Cowboys a 13-0 nothing lead. Wilson was also credited with two stops on the night.
Joe Thomas has been a good player for the team off the bench as well. Though he only had one tackle, it was good enough to be credited with a stop. He's a player that can play both the WILL and MIKE linebacker spots. As the fourth or fifth linebacker on the depth chart, Thomas is a great role player.
Other Snap Count Notes
- Taco Charlton may not have started, but he played 84% of the team's defensive snaps. That number is up from 73% in week one. Charlton had a sack, a hit, and a hurry as well as three stops on the night.
- Cole Beasley and Allen Hurns led the wide receiver group in snap percentage from week one to week two. The big difference at wide receiver was seeing Michael Gallup take the third most snaps on offense instead of Deonte Thompson. Thompson still had the bigger impact with four catches for 33 yards on five targets including two for first downs.
- Geoff Swaim was the far and away leader at tight end in snaps with a 94% snap count. Only the offensive line and Dak Prescott had more snaps on the night than Swaim. He's the TE1 for the team, though he didn't have an impact in the passing game.
- Rico Gathers only played five snaps, but there was concerted effort to get him the ball as he had two targets in his five snaps. He may not have come away with a catch, but it's a start.
- Jourdan Lewis continues to be the odd man out on defense. He only played one snap.
- Dorance Armstrong saw a snap jump from week one to week two going from 28% of the defensive snaps to 40% of the snaps. He had two hurries and an assisted tackle.
Why Cowboys Need Tavon Austin More Involved Offensively
Two games into the 2018 season and I'm still not quite sure what to make of the Dallas Cowboys offense. To me, there is a void of playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. With the exception of Ezekiel Elliott and maybe Cole Beasley, there is a lack of consistency that is really hurting this offensive unit. Changes need to be made or someone needs to step up in a hurry.
Enter Wide Receiver/Running Back Tavon Austin.
Just looking at Tavon Austin you would probably put him in the category with Cole Beasley, a small/diminutive WR who should strictly be playing out of the slot. That's typically where the smaller WRs get placed in the NFL because teams would like you to believe that due to their diminutive stature, they can't succeed on the outside.
Well, guess what? The passing game is changing around the league and we're starting to see more of these smaller/quicker WRs earn more prominent roles. The reasoning is these types of receivers are generally known to be better route runners, who are more capable of creating separation on their own.
The Dallas Cowboys must be buying into this philosophy because during the offseason they pretty much revamped the entire wide receiver position with that thought at least in the back of their minds. They didn't bring in a lot of "undersized" WRs, but they did focus on adding pass catchers who can run better routes and create separation on their own.
Wide Receiver Tavon Austin is one of those pass catchers Dallas brought in to improve their passing game. Austin really hasn't been utilized as much as I thought he would in the first two games, but he is starting to look like a dynamic weapon the Cowboys can't ignore much longer.
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Last Sunday night against the New York Giants, the Dallas Cowboys finally decided to utilize Tavon Austin's speed in the passing game. The result, a 64 yard touchdown pass from Quarterback Dak Prescott.
Austin's speed to stretch the field both vertically and horizontally is something the Dallas Cowboys need to incorporate more of into their offensive game plan. Forcing opposing defenses to have to cover more of the field should create more opportunities for big plays in both the running and passing game.
Stretching the field vertically with Austin's speed will open up things up underneath in the passing game. It takes at least one, possibly two defenders out of the play, leaving nine to defend against 10 Cowboys offensive players. That benefits Ezekiel Elliott in the running game and the other WRs running those underneath routes.
Stretching the field horizontally mostly helps the running game, which is great news when you have a dynamic running back like Zeke. Utilizing Austin's speed on jet sweeps or reverses forces the edge defenders from crashing down on inside runs. It also forces the linebackers to hesitate more because they have to respect the threat of both an inside or outside run.
Against the Giants, Tavon Austin turned three touches into 94 total yards, two receptions for 79 receiving yards and one rushing attempt for 15 yards. Imagine if the Cowboys were to give him about 10 touches a game. It seems like such a simple thing, but I think it could have a huge impact (for the better) for the entire offense.
Do you think the Dallas Cowboys need to get Tavon Austin more involved?
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