The Dallas Cowboys came into the 2014 NFL Draft with a need for pass rushers. Their targets in the first round, Anthony Barr and Aaron Donald, were long gone when they are on the clock. At the end of the first round, there were a few quality first-round pass rushers still available. Dallas needed an instant pass rusher and they traded their second- and third-round picks to move up and put themselves in better position to select Demarcus Lawrence or Kony Ealy. The second-round went on to be Lawrence and it was certainly a smart move.
The Cowboys didn’t re-sign Jason Hatcher and they released DeMarcus Ware to create cap space. That being said, the Cowboys needed to come out of the draft with an instant-impact pass rusher. By selecting Lawrence, the Cowboys will have a starting-quality player to play opposite of Anthony Spencer. Now, Cowboy fans will be watching Lawrence get after the quarterback instead of Jeremy Mincey.
In 2014, Dallas’ defensive line will be formidable. The presence of defensive line guru Rod Marinelli only helps too. As of now, the starters are (from left to right) Lawrence, Henry Melton Tyrone Crawford, and Spencer. Add in Mincey, Ben Bass, Terrell McClain, and Ben Gardner as backups, and you can see this group has a ton of potential. The Cowboys’ defensive line last year was ravaged with injuries. This year’s group looks much better and it also has much more depth. The days of relying on new defensive linemen each week hope to be over.
Lawrence has all the tools to turn into a three-down player in the NFL. He is undersized at 251 pounds, but Lawrence will have the chance to put on weight with an NFL weight room and an NFL conditioning program. Two indicators of successful pass rushers in the NFL are big hands and long arms. Lawrence has 11″ hands and he has 34″ arms. Lawrence will give offensive linemen migraines if the Cowboys use him correctly. The potential is there in Lawrence to become a premier defensive end in the NFL. It is up to Marinelli and Leon Lett to get the most out of Lawrence. Luckily, Marinelli and Lett are two of the best at what they do.
Stay tuned for our grade on fourth-round pick Anthony Hitchens.