Tyrone Crawford’s Signing Key to Improving Dallas Cowboys’ Pass Rush

The Dallas Cowboys have signed fourth-round draft pick Tyrone Crawford to a four-year deal worth approximately $2.675 million. Crawford is the fourth of Dallas’ seven draft picks to sign a contract after fifth-round pick Danny Coale, sixth-rounder James Hanna and seventh-round selection Caleb McSurdy all signed on Monday. That leaves first-round pick Morris Claiborne and fourth-rounder Kyle Wilber as the only two unsigned draft picks on the Cowboys’ roster.

Contrary to popular belief, defensive end was the Cowboys’ weakest position in 2011. Yes, Dallas’ cornerbacks were bad, but that was partially due to horrendous defensive end play. Kenyon Coleman and Jason Hatcher put virtually no pressure on opposing QBs, who shredded the Cowboys’ secondary. In fact, Dallas turned in the worst performance in franchise history against the pass in 2011.

Even so, the only change the Cowboys made at the position this off-season was adding Crawford in the draft. Crawford’s performance at the NFL level remains to be seen, but it won’t take much to unseat Coleman and Hatcher as the starters on the depth chart. Likewise, third-year pro Sean Lissemore should be a starter this season and he’s a potential breakout candidate if that happens.

Realistically, Crawford and Lissemore could be the Cowboys’ new starting defensive ends by mid-season, which should be the case if Crawford is halfway decent as an NFL player. First of all, they can’t be any worse than Hatcher and Coleman were last season and second, their promotions might motivate the elder players to improve and challenge for their spots back.

Crawford’s signing was inevitable, but his drafting was key for a Cowboys team that struggled heavily to defend the pass last season, both in the secondary and in the trenches. The addition of Crawford was a small step, but at least it was in the right direction.

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