This Cowboys linemen is one of the most disruptive players in the NFL

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 08: Aaron Rodgers
ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 08: Aaron Rodgers /

David Irving has proven to be one of the best players on the Dallas Cowboys defense. How good is he? We assess…

The Dallas Cowboys haven’t had many bright spots to this disappointing 2017 season. Expected to be Super Bowl favorites, the Cowboys find themselves long-shots to even make the playoffs these days. Despite the disappointing position Dallas is in, there is good news to report from this season as well. One of those “good news stories” is the progression of third-year pro, David Irving.

Irving, 24, has quietly been having a career season. Overshadowed by teammate DeMarcus Lawrence, Irving has proven to be every bit the disruptive force Lawrence is and he may even prove to be better.

How Good is David Irving?

It’s impossible to mention David Irving without first mentioning his physical dimensions. At 6’7” 290 lbs, Irving is a giant amongst giants on the line. Blessed with length, balance, and athletic ability, Irving is an anomaly.

Typically, players as tall as him have major leverage issues in the NFL. If they can overcome the inevitable high center of gravity, they are forced to play the edge where they won’t get bullied by stouter stronger linemen who usually operate in the middle.

David Irving is averaging .833 sacks per game over the last 12 games played. Projected for the course of a full 16-game season, that equates to over 13 sacks.

But David Irving defies logic and is a force both in the middle and on the edge.

He’s every bit as strong as the interior offensive linemen he faces, and he has an uncanny knack to use his leverage to stand strong and his length to control opponents.

In the last twelve games played, David Irving has a total of 10 sacks. He also has eight pass deflections in that same period.

That’s two more passes defensed than veteran (and literal pass defender) Orlando Scandrick has gathered in his last 12 games. Throw in the impact Irving makes in visually blocking passing lanes, tripping up runners, and hurrying passers and you have one of the most disruptive players in the NFL.

I’ll say it again; David Irving is one of the most disruptive players in the entire NFL.

Impact on the team

David Irving’s impact goes well beyond the stat sheet. His versatility to play both the edge and the interior makes him one of the most valuable commodities on Rod Marinelli’s defense. His impact provides a trickle-down effect to the rest of the team. Since teams are forced to double-team him, he opens up opportunities for other Cowboys linemen to make plays.

Did anyone else notice how little impact the Cowboys pass rush has produced since David Irving has been out?

The Dallas Cowboys sack statistics have fallen off a cliff in recent weeks. The past two weeks David Irving has been out, all sack production has grinded to a screeching halt. In the month of December, Dallas has exactly ZERO sacks. Without Irving on the field, opponents have spent majority of their time doubling DeMarcus Lawrence and no one else on the field has made them pay for it.

More from Dallas Cowboys

That’s why DeMarcus “Tank” Lawrence has no sacks in Irving’s recent absence and only two sacks in the past five games.

Opponents can key on him.

Sure, Tank caught opponents by surprise early in the season when Irving was suspended. Teams didn’t double Lawrence and he made them pay.

When Irving came back in October, teams had to pick their poison. The result was one of the most productive sack months in years. Irving tallied five sacks in just three games and the team totaled whopping 14 in a month that featured a stat-stunting bye week.

13+ sack season?

David Irving is averaging .833 sacks per game over the last 12 games played. Projected for the course of a full 16-game season, that equates to over 13 sacks. That’s among the best in the NFL in the interior. Factor in his disruption in the middle of the pocket, swatting balls and closing passing lanes, and you possibly have the most disruptive force in the NFL.

With post-concussion symptoms still present, it’s likely the Cowboys will have to take on the Seahawks without him yet again. Hopefully DeMarcus Lawrence and company can find a way to get it done without him. But whether they can or can’t, it’s undeniable the impact David Irving makes on this defense.

Next: How Sean Lee is going to be tough to afford next season

We’ll be discussing David Irving heavily in coming weeks since the third-year pro is set to become a restricted free agent this winter. He’s a player everyone should be talking about but very few are.