Dallas Cowboys Defensive Ends: Start, Bench, Cut

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - JANUARY 05: (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - JANUARY 05: (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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Taco Charlton

The Opening Argument:

The 2017 first round pick has the height, length, and weight to become a fantastic defensive end. With 34 1/4″ arms, he makes it very difficult for offensive lineman to win at the point of attack. The 6’6″, 277 pound frame make it even harder as he has the strength to match opposing offensive tackles.

Coming out of Michigan, Taco didn’t play starting minutes until his senior year. While there was talent ahead of him, he was more than capable of supplanting those ahead of him because of his athleticism and talent.

After being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, he fell behind DeMarcus Lawrence, who had his breakout season, and Tyrone Crawford. Coming in infrequently as a third option, he put together a good finish. A finish that was seen as encouraging for a guy who was talked about poorly in the media for most of the season.


As an athlete, he doesn’t possess outstanding straight line speed. However, his first step burst or explosion is sublime. This sets him up nicely especially when he’s rushing to the outside of the tackle.

He possesses long arms and they have proven to be effective. He uses these arms to jab and swipe and bull rush. Compared to Hyder, Charlton has shown more creativity in his pass rushing. This creativity combined with instincts can be turn into something special. While Charlton doesn’t have poor instincts, they are a work in progress.

Something Charlton did well in college that has translated to the NFL is his run stopping game. He is good at tackling running backs in open space and has shown he can beat offensive tackles by slipping through holes or by pushing offensive tackles away from him. His run instincts would help him be an every down edge, however, this is entirely dependent upon him fixing some other problems.

Lastly, for a 6’6″. 277 pound guy, Taco bends really well. When pass rushing, If he gets to the outside against a tackle, he has the bend to reach and grab the quarterback. Outside of his straight line speed, Taco’s general athleticism is good enough to help turn Charlton into a legitimate edge threat in this league.

The rebuttal:

The most obvious issue is his attitude. His attitude prevented him from returning to the field after rehabilitating from his injury. His attitude kept him out of meaningful reps and games. His attitude prevents him from being disruptive every single play. His attitude was the reason his college tape suffered. Last season, the rumor was he felt entitled to playing time as opposed to earning the time.

I believe Taco could benefit from gaining good weight. As it stands, he’s lean for his size. Adding muscle should help him bring consistency to his first step as well as his contact balance. When rushing to the inside he gets stuck and starts spinning around. Generally this would be attributed to pad height, but Taco has shown the ability to slip through cracks and swipe away from his opponents. Building some lower body strength would make this a lesser occurring problem .

This leads me to his consistency. His attitude and athletic deficiencies will cause him to take plays off or become a non-factor on a specific snap. When given a limited opportunity to produce, it is pivotal players make the most of their opportunity. His inconsistency as a pass rusher makes it increasingly hard to play him.

Perhaps the biggest issue with Taco is he doesn’t have a defined position. If he gained some pounds, he’d be big and athletic enough to play inside as a 3 technique. If he loses some weight, he he’d be a more explosive speed rusher but his contact balance would be significantly worse.

As it stands he suffers from poor body control. If he loses weight while competing against bigger men, Taco doesn’t stand a greater chance at winning.


Taco could have the JJ Watt body type, but unfortunately he would need to put on a significant amount of muscle. Taco has athletic deficiencies that make it hard to believe he will be an All-Pro like some were expecting him to be coming out of college. I do believe if Taco gained some muscle and got his mind right, he could have an awesome 3rd year campaign.