As cut-down day slowly approaches the Dallas Cowboys, many players are competing for their right to be a part of the 53-man roster that will battle it out on the field once regular season begins. Undrafted rookies and veterans alike will have to “earn the Star.” That includes former first round draft picks. Usually, those are basically locks to make the team, but that shouldn’t be the case for Cowboys Defensive End Taco Charlton. Not only has his career been disappointing so far, but he’s got plenty of competition heading into the season.
Younger defensive ends have been impressing in camp, which makes us wonder if Charlton’s time in Dallas could come to a premature end.
From the moment he was drafted in 2017, criticism has surrounded Charlton’s career. Two seasons into it, the Michigan product has done very little to prove doubters wrong. With only four sacks to his name and only eight tackles for loss, Charlton hasn’t even earned his fair share of playing time.
In 2017, he lined up for 38.18% of the defensive snaps and in 2018 he did so 39.16% of the time. From one season to another, he couldn’t do enough to earn significant playing time. Regardless of the fact that in 2018 Randy Gregory made his comeback to the team, that’s simply not what you’re looking for out of a first round pick.
Heading into 2019, little has changed for Taco Charlton. To this day, he hasn’t given enough flashes to promise Cowboys Nation a successful future. Improvements have simply not been there for the young pass rusher. Or at least, we haven’t heard about them… and trust me, we would’ve.
Now, I’m not talking about the first preseason game against the 49ers (which by the way, even led to some Charlton praise, including from none other than Bryan Broaddus) but the offseason as a whole.
For those of us who were not really Taco Charlton enthusiasts on draft night of 2017, there are even fewer signs of life as we sit here in August of 2019.
Often, I wonder whether it’s the fact that Taco was a first round pick that’s led to a relatively strong job security. A first round draft pick is a very important asset for any NFL team and it might be tough for front offices to move on when a mistake is made. At this point, I’m convinced Charlton has been the one “bust” the Cowboys’ front office has drafted in recent years. For a first rounder, he’s done very little for the Dallas Cowboys.
When a team misses on the first round, it’s a big loss. However, it can turn into an even bigger loss if the front office doesn’t simply move on and tries to force something that’s not really there. For the Cowboys, this is a problem to avoid.
The team has quite a lot of depth on the defensive line to not consider moving on from Charlton. Younger guys have turned enough heads in training camp and preseason to question who will be on the team when the cuts start to take place.
Dorance Armstrong has impressed many in Cowboys Camp and could be poised for a breakout year if he keeps it up.
Jalen Jelks, although a seventh rounder, showed some flashes in the first preseason game and one has to wonder if there’s upside there. His first preseason play resulted in a QB sack. If there is upside in him, even a project like him could call for a roster spot over Charlton if the coaching staff believes there hasn’t been considerable improvement from #97. Both Jelks and Joe Jackson have been great at camp.
Kerry Hyder, who’s only 28 years old, could also be a serious contributor to this team. He arrived as a free agent and also had a few nice moments in the preseason opener versus the 49ers. Hyder was decent with the Lions when he played as a 4-3 DE and his fit in Dallas could revamp his career.
Taco Charlton isn’t making this roster without a serious fight. The Cowboys have plenty of young depth to simply hand him a 53-man roster spot. Charlton has to show he’s got the attitude, work ethic and most importantly upside for the team to keep him around.
Otherwise, despite being a first round pick, his time in Dallas could come to an end. Remember, missing on a first round selection is tough, but sticking to it and trying to make something out of nothing can result in worse results. Personally, I would be far from shocked if he doesn’t make the cut. We’ll see if the team decides to give him another year.