The Dallas Cowboys have put a lot on the shoulders of their second-round pick Demarcus Lawrence before he’s even played a meaningful down in the NFL. Thanks to departures of defenders like DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher, injuries and moving up in the draft, the Cowboys have put pressure on Lawrence to produce immediately.
Lawrence is quick and agile with the ability to get around defenders. He can get to the quarterback as well as make plays in the backfield. He also possesses the ability to move laterally and pursue the ball down the field. He has the potential to one of those guys who’s always around the ball making plays.
While at Boise State Lawrence had 20 sacks, 120 tackles and 34 tackles-for-loss in two seasons. The bad part of his story is that he faced multiple disciplinary issues while in college. Lawrence claims they were childish mistakes and he is a different person now.
As far as the Cowboys are concerned they better hope that’s the case, because they are short on other alternatives. They would then have to look to journeyman Jeremy Mincey to play a more significant role rather than be a rotational player. Anthony Spencer likely won’t be available until Week 7 because of likely stint on the PUP list.
The loss of Ware puts the Cowboys behind the eight ball. Ware did a lot and was a leader who always made the big play. However, last season his sack total plummeted to only six. Many use that as the benchmark for Lawrence. However, Ware was an all-time great in Dallas. Lawrence is going to be tied Ware for the rest of his career. They share they same first name and position, and he is trying to to fill his void. It’s only natural for the perception to be that he must replace the sack machine.
I don’t think emphasizing one category is fair when gauging his effectiveness. Everyone will be able to tell if he’s doing a good job. If he’s doing his job he will be around the ball. He’ll be a pest to the opposition and may get a sack, tackle for loss or a forced fumble. He could also draw false-start penalties, clog the middle or set the edge.
Fair or unfair, this is the situation Lawrence finds himself in. Hopefully he will mature in his role, but he will definitely provide playmaking ability for a defense that is in desperate need for a bright building block. Fans hope he can fill Ware’s shoes, but only time will tell.