Dallas Cowboys: Will the Cowboys focus on defense in the draft?

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 08: Da'Ron Payne
ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 08: Da'Ron Payne /

 The Dallas Cowboys hold the 19th pick in tonight’s draft, but will the team select a defensive player to improve this unit?

After recording 14.5 sacks, 58 combined tackles, creating four forced fumbles, and ranked second in the NFL in sacks last season. So far this offseason the Dallas Cowboys retained a key pass rusher as they placed the franchise tag on defensive end, Demarcus Lawrence.

As great as Lawrence performed in 2017, the Cowboys need to see the sack artist duplicate last season’s success or exceed expectations. This production is rarely seen and the second round pass rusher has been known to struggle at times. Lawrence once tallied one sack in nine games, now that is pretty rough.

Lawrence does have some injury history behind him and has served suspensions in the past. This is likely why getting a long-term deal done has been so difficult. The Cowboys are hoping Lawrence can dominate and become that much needed “War Daddy” Jerry Jones has desperately desired.

But with the jury still out on Lawrence-and to some extent, the entire defensive line-will the Cowboys draft a defensive lineman with their 19th overall pick?

If the Dallas Cowboys decide to go defense, here are two players worth drafting to bolster up their defensive front.

With David Irvin only signed for a year and Tyrone Crawford playing mediocre at best, Payne is worth the selection. He will be a difference maker sooner rather than later.

Harold Landry, DE, Boston College

If there is a sleeper in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft, it is Harold Landry. The defensive end out of Boston College is flying low under the radar, while other defensive linemen are garnering all of the attention.

Landry is a stud, setting a single-season sack record with 16.5 sacks during his junior year. The guy is an absolute terror to opposing quarterbacks. The only reason Landry didn’t duplicate his sack total from 2016 is that he missed four games this past season because of a nagging ankle injury.

Even though he missed four games because of an injury, Landry’s projections are all over the place, anywhere from 7-32. Standing 6’2, weighing 252 lbs, and running a 4.64 in the 40-yard-dash, Landry has the speed and quickness to make a difference coming off of the edge.

Landry blew past blockers on his way to sacking quarterbacks on a regular basis in college. Blessed with a quick first step and a burst of speed, Landry resembles Atlanta Falcons edge rusher Vic Beasley. Landry is a day one starter and a player who can easily record 5-6 sacks as a rookie.

Basically, Landry is a top-10 talent that can have an immediate impact on Dallas’ pass rush. Another impressive trait about Landry is that he’s hard to handle with one on one. If he is there, Dallas should take him and not look back.

Da’ron Payne, DT, Alabama, Jr

Like Landry Da’ron Payne is another magnificent player that’s projected to go late in the first round, but he is capable of being selected much earlier.

Although Dallas is not necessarily in need of a defensive tackle, it never hurts to draft one of Payne’s skill set. The massive defensive tackle is 6’2 and weighs 311 lbs.

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Built like a tank, Payne is quick, has good penetration, very powerful, a good tackler, difficult to handle one-on-one, and is really good against the run. Payne tallied 102 tackles at Alabama, 53 last season and recorded three sacks along the way.

Payne will improve his pass rush skills with the right coaching and development. Scouts say Payne is a late bloomer, but he has all of the tools you desire in a defensive tackle.

With David Irving only signed for a year and Tyrone Crawford playing mediocre at best, Payne is worth the selection. He will be a difference maker sooner rather than later.

Next: Dallas Cowboys: Who will the Cowboys select?

With the 19th selection, Dallas has so many options to choose from. Since there is a strong possibility that either Landry or Payne will be available when Dallas selects its pick, why not draft that hidden gem and terrorize the NFC East for several years to come?