The Dallas Cowboys May Not Be Drafting a Pass-Rusher

Jul 29, 2016, Oxnard, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones (left) and owner Jerry Jones at press conference at the River Ridge Fields. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 29, 2016, Oxnard, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones (left) and owner Jerry Jones at press conference at the River Ridge Fields. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dallas Cowboys have a significant need in the pass-rush department yet their EVP Stephen Jones has indicated they may not be drafting one.

This past season ended much like the 2014 season ended – with Aaron Rodgers picking the defense apart in the divisional round of the playoffs. It’s clear: The Dallas Cowboys then and the Dallas Cowboys now, have issues rushing the quarterback when facing above average offensive lines.

Similarly, the off season tasks have not changed from 2014 either – find a pass-rusher. While there’s no question the Cowboys will be actively looking for a pass-rusher in the draft, there’s no guarantee they will actually draft one.

When asked if the Cowboys plan to draft a pass-rusher, executive vice president Stephen Jones had this to say,

"“Well, we’ve been wanting to improve on that for several years now. We’ve taken some shots at it. A couple years ago we did and it didn’t work out. We’re playing good sound defense but obviously that’s our #1 objective, is to continue to try to get pressure on the passer.”"

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"“Whether that’s the first pick, the second pick, or the third pick – I can’t tell you how the draft is going to turn out,” Jones said. “I think that’s how you make your biggest mistakes, is to say ‘We’re going to pick for need. We’re going to take the best defensive end in the draft, not the best player in the draft when our turn comes.’ So we’ll just have to see how all that plays out. But obviously it’s something that goes without saying: We’re very focused on trying to improve our pass-rush.”"

The reality bomb that the younger Jones just dropped on us is important to understand. The Dallas Cowboys do not plan on drafting for need therefore if a pass-rusher worthy of selection doesn’t fall to them, they will draft the best player available.

Case in point: Last season

At roughly this time last year the Dallas Cowboys found themselves in a dire situation. Already sub-par in rushing the passer, the Cowboys seemingly lost its top three pass-rushers. Greg Hardy left to go be a terrible person somewhere else. DeMarcus Lawrence failed a drug test and faced a suspension. Randy Gregory, big surprise, faced a suspension as well.

To say the Cowboys needed a pass-rusher last off season is a bit of an understatement.

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Yet, the Cowboys selected a running back in the first, an injured linebacker in the second, and a girthy defensive tackle in the third. It wasn’t until the fourth round that the Cowboys finally picked a player at the position of their greatest need.

Stephen Jones simply told us that the same situation could play out again and the Cowboys may end up with little or even nothing as far a pass-rushing talent. Let that sink in for a moment.

Without much scratch to use in free agency, and options drying up by the day, it’s unlikely they’ll lure any sure-fire upgrade. That’s why the Cowboys best chance at improving the pass-rush probably resides from within.

But options will exist and Will McClay, largely tasked with finding secondhand NFL talent at bargain prices, will set out to find this season’s Benson Mayowa (who actually led the Cowboys in sacks last season).

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The pass-rush can’t be put off until the draft — that much has been made abundantly clear. There’s no guarantee a pass-rusher will be found and there’s no guarantee if one is found that he’ll be impactful. That’s why pass-rush remains a developmental priority, a free agent priority, and a draft priority this off season.

Because if something’s not done to successfully improve the pass-rush, we may see the same sad ending that we’ve seen twice before.