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.
Who do you think starts opposite DeMarcus Lawrence in 2018?
Malik McDowell Is Well Worth The Risk For The Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are reportedly brining defensive lineman Malik McDowell into The Star this week for a visit, as they decide whether or not to potentially sign him for the 2019 season.
McDowell is a former second round pick of the Seattle Seahawks, who fell to day two because of what scouts call "off the field" or "character" concerns. McDowell did not last long with Seahawks, as he was released in 2017 following an ATV accident in which he reportedly suffered "extensive brain and eye trauma" according to Charles Robinson.
None of us know much about who Malik McDowell is as a person, or what concerns their really should be with his health. But what I do know is that on tape at Michigan State, McDowell was a top 5-10 player in the 2017 draft class. He was a stud, and has the traits to continue to be a stud in the NFL.
The 2017 NFL Draft is chock full of talented, athletic, and productive defensive linemen. While most of the draft pundits have focused on EDGE rushers thus far, the defensive tackle class also possesses some of this year's top NFL prospects. Arguably the best of those defensive tackles is Michigan State's Malik McDowell.
Back in 2017 I wrote a full scouting report on McDowell, detailing why he earned such a high grade on my board. McDowell is a versatile linemen who is explosive off the ball, powerful and rangy against the run, and a skilled pass rusher who plays with a high motor. What more could you really ask for?
"McDowell is a patient pass rusher at times, setting up the blocker how he likes and then beating them with ease. McDowell’s ability to swipe hands off helps him greatly, but his quick swim is his most effective pass rush move.
On this play he uses that swim to perfection, forcing the center to power down to the right before swimming back to the other side."
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
When the Spartans went to a three man pass rushing front, McDowell moved to the EDGE often and made plays with his quick, active hands and impressive swim move. He was much more impressive on the interior, however, and could be a direct replacement for David Irving as an explosive and powerful 3-technique for the Cowboys.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
I love that the Cowboys are bringing McDowell in for a free agent visit. His price will likely be low, as he is yet to play in an NFL game over the last two years, but his ceiling remains very high if he is healthy. It's rare for a player with his college production, natural ability, and measurables to completely fail in the NFL.
Maybe all McDowell needs is a second chance to get his head right and prove that he belongs in the league. Maybe he flames out quickly and can't get on the field due to "off the field" stuff. Or, maybe he simply isn't healthy enough to contribute as an NFL player. Regardless, for the price he'll likely command, McDowell is well worth the risk if the Cowboys are willing to take it.
Though Not A Direct Beasley Replacement, Randall Cobb Would Bring Value To Cowboys’ Offense
When the news broke Monday that veteran wide receiver Randall Cobb was visiting the Dallas Cowboys, most immediately assumed he would be a logical replacement for the departed Cole Beasley.
When you take a look at the film and each of their skillsets, however, you quickly see this is likely not the case.
While Cobb would be able to play in the slot as a receiver for the Cowboys if he signs, his value extends much further than just a slot receiver. Where Beasley makes his mark with precise route running, short area quickness, and 3rd down reliability, Cobb is much more of a threat after the catch. He's not the route runner that Beasley is, and really isn't an upgrade over Beasley as a receiver, but Cobb would be able to help the Cowboys' become more diverse in their offensive schemes.
Similar to Tavon Austin, Randall Cobb can be used in pre snap motion and jet-sweep packages, as well as a traditional running back. A college quarterback, Cobb's versatility is what makes him so attractive to NFL teams. Cobb would actually fit more of the Lance Dunbar "scat back" role of sorts for the Cowboys than that of the Cole Beasley slot receiver role. His versatility, however, allows him to carve out a lane within the offense which they haven't quite had before.
Another area Cobb could help the Cowboys is when the play breaks down. With experience in the Packers offense playing with arguably the greatest improviser we've ever seen in Aaron Rodgers, Cobb would be able to help Dak Prescott down the field when he breaks the pocket and the play is off schedule.
So often last season we talked about how the Cowboys offense is reliant on remaining on schedule, staying in front of the chains and not having to force the ball downfield. Unleashing the Mississippi State version of Dak Prescott, where he can improvise and use his legs to create big plays, tends to be when this offense is at its best, however.
Randall Cobb won't be a Pro Bowler if the Cowboys sign him, and depending on the money he receives, it might not even be a lock that he makes the final roster. But Cobb would be an exciting addition to a Cowboys offense which has lacked "creativity" over the last few seasons, and is looking to reinvent themselves to a certain extent.
A receiving corps headlined by Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, with versatile weapons such as Cobb and Tavon Austin behind them, is a pretty good one to head into draft day with.
Signing Cobb would keep the Cowboys from "needing" to take a wide receiver early in the draft, and would allow them to easily shed Allen Hurns if a receiving weapon did fall to them at 58th overall.
Should Cowboys Inquire About Trading for 49ers DL Solomon Thomas?
When it comes to making trades, the Dallas Cowboys are typically the buyer and not the seller. They proved that last season when they acquired Tavon Austin, Jamize Olawale, and Jihad Ward via trade and could be looking do the same once again this offseason. That's why today I want to talk about the Cowboys putting in a call to the San Francisco 49ers to inquire about potentially trading for Solomon Thomas.
New 49ers Defensive Line Coach Kris Kocurek is rumored to be evaluating Solomon Thomas' film in order to determine his fit and future with the organization moving forward. This is no easy task. In his two years in the league they've tried Thomas at DE and DT, but unfortunately the former No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft has yet to find his footing at either position.
Being a man without a position doesn't bode well for Solomon Thomas, especially after the 49ers acquired Defensive End Dee Ford from the Kansas City Chiefs last week via trade. The 49ers are suddenly stacked along the defensive line. That's not all though, things could actually get worse for Thomas.
To further complicate matters, the 49ers could use their second overall pick in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft on the either Nick Bosa or Quinnen Williams. If that's what indeed happens, someone is going to be the odd man out. If you haven't guessed it yet, I think that player could be Solomon Thomas.
As a former high first-round draft pick, Thomas would count $7,678,468 against the salary cap in 2019 and $8,958,213 in 2020. That's probably more than the 49ers want to pay for a rotational/backup defensive lineman. And cutting him this season would create $16.6 million in dead money, so a trade is the logical solution.
With all that in mind, it wouldn't surprise me if San Francisco put Solomon Thomas on the trade block any day now. He is only two years into his four-year rookie deal and comes with a fifth-year option as a former first-round draft pick. That means if a team does trade for him they have him under contract for essentially three more years.
If you add all of this up, it makes a lot of sense for the Dallas Cowboys. They need defensive line help and Solomon Thomas needs a fresh start. The Cowboys would get a young versatile defensive lineman and the 49ers get to dump his contract while also receiving some compensation in return. It's a win-win for all parties concerned.
I know what you're thinking though. What would the Cowboys have to give up in the trade? Well, it might not be as much as you think.
Fortunately, Thomas' failure to make an impact his first two years in the NFL favor the buyer, in this case the Dallas Cowboys. He has only four career quarterback sacks, three of which came in his rookie season. Stats of course don't always tell the entire story, but game film does. Unfortunately for Thomas, he can't escape his poor play.
I believe it wouldn't take more than a 2019 fourth-round draft pick to get Solomon Thomas away from the 49ers. Remember, just last season the New England Patriots sent a third-round draft pick to San Francisco and received Offensive Tackle Trent Brown and the fifth-round pick in return. Brown was a more proven player and was in the last year of his contract.
I don't know about you, but I kind of like the idea of Solomon Thomas in a Dallas Cowboys uniform. If anybody can tap into his potential, Rod Marinelli can. Giving up a 2019 fourth-round pick is well worth the gamble in my opinion.
Do you think the Cowboys should inquire about trading for Solomon Thomas?
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