Last season, free agent find, Benson Mayowa, had a career year and led the Dallas Cowboys in sacks. Who will be the surprise standout this season?
The Dallas Cowboys are making a habit of finding treasures from other teams’ trash. Perhaps “trash” is too harsh a word, but there’s no denying the Cowboys’ recent track record of finding underappreciated pass-rushing gems in free agency.
The Cowboys, specifically Will McClay, started the trend when they brought in George Selvie in 2013. Selvie was signed off the free agent heap and led all Dallas defensive ends with seven sacks (a group that included DeMarcus Ware).
On year later McClay found a 31-year-old role player named Jeremy Mincey in free agency. Mincey went on to collect six sacks on the season, leading all Cowboys in 2014. In 2015, it was Greg Hardy who got the nod. Despite being a despicable character in the locker room and in general life, Hardy collected 6 sacks in 12 games and led the Cowboys in pressures in the games played.
So who’s going to follow in the footsteps of Selvie, Mincey, Hardy, and Mayowa?
Last season Will McClay pulled another rabbit out of a hat when he brought in a young and raw Benson Mayowa. As we all know, Mayowa led the team with six sacks last season, a career best, all while only starting six games.
So who will be this season’s ‘Benson Mayowa’?
At only 25-years-old, Benson Mayowa has the potential to repeat his success from 2016 and possibly lead the team once again. His career is clearly on the up-swing and he’s proven his ability to produce in a rotation.
The only question is if last season was a statistical anomaly. Pro Football Focus seems to think so. They rated Mayowa as only the 77th edge rusher in the NFL, specifically dinging him in pass-rush ability. He created very few pressures on the season and his sack numbers were not supported by snap-for-snap production.
More from Dallas Cowboys
- Why the Dallas Cowboys wisely decided against signing Dalvin Cook
- West coast, Texas coast, burnt toast: Cowboys don’t need more runs
- Brandin Cooks will change the way defenses play the Dallas Cowboys
- Why the Dallas Cowboys defensive X-Factor is EDGE Sam Williams
- Dallas Cowboys: 3 head coach options if McCarthy fails in 2023
Young journeyman, Demontre Moore, was brought in as a possible edge solution in 2017. After once being considered “a steal” when drafted by the Giants four years ago, Moore has managed to log only 68 total pressures for his career. To say his production doesn’t match his ability is a bit of an understatement.
His physical skills are real and if he stays healthy and responds well to competition, he has a chance at duplicating, or even building on, his 2014 season where he had six sacks. Given his size, 6’4” 250lbs, he’s probably limited to the right side. But at only 24-years old, he still has time to develop and realize that vast potential that once had New Yorkers excited.
While Will McClay brought in a few other established players to possibly take the role as 2017’s Benson Mayowa, Lenny Jones offers himself as the ultimate dark horse candidate. The former undrafted free agent was signed by the 49ers and bounced around the NFL last season. Now he comes to Dallas in his second year and has been turning some heads. Said Bryan Broaddus,
"“I didn’t know much about Nevada defensive end Lenny Jones but I will need to do some further research on him…He was able to work out with the rookies this weekend and I will have to say that he stood out with the way he came off the ball. There was an explosive first step to his game…Jones and the LSU defensive lineman Lewis Neal were by far the quickest and most successful in beating the blocker.”"
If Lenny has a good lean on the edge (and/or counter moves) to go with that explosion he showed Bryan, he could actually carve out a significant role on this Cowboys defense.
Currently the team is devoid of a prototypical right edge rusher, and while Taco Charlton seems destined to log most of the snaps there, he will likely move inside on nickel passing downs.
What do you think?
So who’s going to follow in the footsteps of Selvie, Mincey, Hardy, and Mayowa? What we know is that someone is bound to step up and produce a career year on the edge, we just aren’t quite sure who that man is.
Who do you think? We know Taco and Irving are going to get their opportunities so no picking them. But which lesser-regarded player is going to step up and carry on the tradition? I can’t wait for training camp…