The Dallas Cowboys have more depth at the defensive end position than any time in recent memory. That’s a good thing by the way. The only thing we really know about the Cowboys DEs right now is that DeMarcus Lawrence will start on the left side, but who starts opposite him in 2018 is completely up in the air.
The Dallas Cowboys have no shortage of candidates this season to start opposite Lawrence on the right side. It’s a good problem to have, but someone’s going to have to separate themselves from the pack if they want to earn that honor.
This of course will be an important position battle to watch once training camp gets underway. D-Law will without a doubt receive a lot of extra attention this season and for good reason. Someone needs to be able to take advantage of that on the opposite side, but who will it be?
I’ve decided to list the candidates in descending order to share with you who I would choose to start opposite DeMarcus Lawrence this season. Please for free to use the comment section at the end of the article to share any thoughts and opinions you may have on this topic.
Dorance Armstrong Jr.
Out of all of the Dallas Cowboys defensive ends, Dorance Armstrong Jr. is the most similar to DeMarcus Lawrence when it comes to size and athletic ability. If you were to look up their measurable’s and combine results, you would find out that they are nearly identical.
Now, Armstrong may look the part and have the same kind of athletic ability as Lawrence, but I think we can all agree it would be a huge leap for him to start as a rookie. I think the best we can hope from him his first year in the NFL is to become a good rotational DE and a top special-teams performer.
Randy Gregory might be the most physically gifted defensive end on the entire Dallas Cowboys roster. If not for his off the field problems, he probably would’ve been drafted in the top 10 and already established himself as one of the best pure pass rushers in the NFL. But, we all know that’s not the case.
If/when Gregory gets reinstated to the league, he could play a big role for the Cowboys defense. I don’t personally think he will be ready to start since he’s been away from the game so long, but he could be a really good pass rush specialist. I think it would be too much to expect for him to start opposite DeMarcus Lawrence this season.
I don’t know about you, but I really want to see what Charles Tapper can do when given an opportunity. He has the skill set to become a starting defensive end in the NFL, but just can’t stay healthy enough to prove it.
Tapper unfortunately is fighting an uphill battle to make the final 53-man roster. The Cowboys depth at the DE position could make him the odd man out when all is said and done. But, if he can stay healthy throughout training camp and preseason, he has a chance to create a role for himself, although probably not as a starter.
I think we can all agree that Taco Charlton didn’t really live up to his first-round draft status last year, but he did continue to progress as a player as the season went on. He has all of the physical tools you look for in a starting defensive end in a 4-3 scheme, but physical gifts will only get you so far.
If Charlton can pick up where he left off last year, he could be in the running to compete for the starting gig opposite DeMarcus Lawrence. It’s not completely unthinkable that such a thing can happen, but he’s really going to have to set himself apart from the other DEs. I think that might just be a little too much to ask of him right now, but at least he’s continuing to show that he’s developing.
Despite a lot of fans dislike for Tyrone Crawford, he has been one of the better defensive end/tackles the Dallas Cowboys have had these past several seasons. His ability to play all along the defensive line has been pretty valuable, even though he hasn’t really lived up to his contract.
If I were to guess right now, I would pencil in Tyrone Crawford as the starter playing opposite DeMarcus Lawrence when the 2018 season gets underway. He has the coaching staffs trust and that can’t be overlooked. He is better playing against the run then he has as a pass rusher, but he’s no slouch either.
Although there hasn’t been a lot of talk about Kony Ealy so far since he’s joined the Cowboys, he could be the defensive end to start opposite DeMarcus Lawrence. The Dallas Cowboys have tried to acquire him more than once, so you know there is an interest/infatuation with the player.
Ealy has bounced around a few teams in his young career, but all it takes is finding the right fit to finally live up to your potential and flourish. I think he could be the perfect fit in Rod Marinelli’s 4-3 defensive scheme. I believe he might be the only player who could steal the starting gig away from Tyrone Crawford right now.