This year’s NFL draft could have been so simple for the Dallas Cowboys, owners of the fourth overall pick. In two weeks with the potential of a quarterback now going off the board with each of the first two picks.
The Cowboys are in a position would have taken the Dallas Cowboys hostage, not one making them grimace when the time comes to match need with availability. The Cowboys can not ignore this need for a stop gap defensive lineman.
Randy Gregory why didn’t you behave. Your suspension for violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy has mucked up this entire situation. Yeah, it’s only four games certainly not an eternity, but a quarter of the NFL season. Worse the suspension presents a unique dilemma for the Dallas Cowboys.
Per @NFL drug policy, Randy Gregory failed 4 tests. 1st at combine — in the program. Then 2-gm fine, then 4-gm fine, then 4-gm suspension
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 19, 2016
It’s not as if he had just one slip up in the NFL’s drug program. Gregory was entered into the NFL’s substance program once selected with the 60th pick of last year’s NFL Draft since he tested positive for marijuana at the Scouting Combine. He has screwed up multiple times to earn this season opening four game suspension, leaving him in the position of being banned for 10 games if violating the policy another time.
The word trust is a huge word and is magnified in the NFL. The Cowboys feel this need to cover themselves at defensive end, a position that seems to have always haunted the team ever since “Too Tall” became too old and Cowboy great Harvey Martin also became an unreliable burden that was in the 1980’s. This is 2016.
In the 55-year draft history of the Dallas Cowboys, 10 times they have used a first-round pick on a defensive end, and in Ed “Too Tall” Jones’ case, he was the first pick in the NFL 1974 draft. They hit on Ed, and if we excuse his one-year dalliance with boxing in 1979. Jones is still tied for the club record for seasons played (15), owns the club record for most games played (224) and most consecutive games started (203).
It was nearly 30 years later until the Cowboys hit on another defensive end, selecting DeMarcus Ware with the 11th pick in the 2005 draft. In nine seasons Ware became the club’s all-time sack leader (117).
When it comes to stop gap defensive ends that pretty much is it. The Cowboys have spent 42 draft choices on defensive ends. In past two years defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence who was taken in the second round from Boise St. is showing that he might be another gem the Cowboys found in later rounds..
So here we are again. We need to draft a defensive lineman. The Cowboys have Lawrence, though coming he is coming of surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back, he’ll hold down one starting position. Well, that’s why they took the gamble on Greg Hardy last year, but all signs indicate that he is out the door. Also we gambled on Gregory, whose status at this point resides in a state of limbo of sorts.
So that brings us to this draft. Many draft experts and media folks think the Cowboys will select Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa. Bosa seems talented but another guy who isn’t perfect when it comes to character issues.
After Bosa, the pickings at defensive end grow slim in the first round. There is defensive end Shaq Lawson from Clemson. He looks more like a weak-side defensive end in a 4-3 and DeForest Buckner from Oregon is more of a bulky 3-4 DE. Lawson finished this past season with 12.5 sacks and 24.5 tackles for losses.
Noah Spence, a pure pass rusher but how do you qualify taking a guy high in the first round after he ran into trouble at Ohio State. He banned from the Big Ten for testing positive for ecstasy far too many times, while you have Gregory still on the roster.
We have to do better than last year’s 31 sacks, and without Hardy, the total of players returning from last year’s team reduces that to 25 sacks. Only five teams last year had fewer sacks than the Cowboys’ 31, representing 6.5 fewer than the league average.
If the Cowboys are going to do a better job of closing out games, an Achilles heel too many times last year, they will need to increase the pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Oh, by the way, the Cowboys will play 11 games this season against quarterbacks finishing this past season in the top 17 of passer efficiency.
So what are the Cowboys to do. Simple draft a defensive lineman with good character. A good pass rush will put less pressure on our secondary and hopefully add more sacks in the upcoming season.