Cowboys defense belongs to DeMarcus Lawrence in every way now

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

DeMarcus Lawrence is one of the best two-way defensive ends in the NFL. In a league where pass rushers get most of the praise, but are rarely good against the run, the Dallas Cowboys’ defender has made a name for himself doing both during his seven years in the league.

The sack totals of the past few years might not match the top tier DE’s, but Lawrence’s work as both a high-level pressure create and run stopper makes him one of the elite defensive lineman in the league. For the Cowboys, Lawrence has easily been their best defensive player and a leader for the last handful of seasons.

Our 2021 Player Profile Countdown continues with the new elder statesman of the defense, No. 90 DeMarcus Lawrence.

Background Details

Position: DE Age: 29 Height: 6-5 Weight: 265 pounds Hometown: Aiken, South Carolina High School: Silver Bluff (Aiken, SC) College: Boise State Draft: Second round pick in 2014 (34th overall)

Pro Stats

2020 Stats Games Played: 16 Tackles: 58 Sacks: 6.5 Interceptions: 0 Forced Fumbles: 4 Career Stats Games Played: 96 Tackles: 300 Sacks: 45.5 Interceptions: 1 Forced Fumbles: 15 Awards Won

  • 2x Pro Bowl (2017, 2018)

  • Second-Team All-Pro (2017)

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Player Profile

The Cowboys' defense has not been pretty for the last few seasons, but Lawrence continues to play well. Lawrence has locked down one of the defensive end positions for the defense since his second season. In that offseason, Lawrence underwent back surgery that in the wake of he ended up testing positive for a banned substance and being suspended four games. Since that season, he's been firmly entrenched as the defense's leader, including in sacks three of the last four seasons. Dallas traded up for Lawrence in the 2014 draft and after a bumpy start, he has become the best pass rusher the team's had since DeMarcus Ware. Lawrence put together back-to-back double-digit sack seasons in 2017-2018 but has yet to get back to those numbers while becoming the center of attention for most opposing offensive coordinators. It hasn't stopped Lawrence from staying among the best defensive ends in the game, though. However, after signing the highest defensive contract in Cowboys history in 2019, more sacks were expected. Lawrence hasn’t delivered on those numbers, which has been a source of contention among many fans. A new defensive coordinator could mean a return to the sack totals that would appease the fan base. Last season under Mike Nolan, Lawrence was asked to rush standing up, as a 3-4 edge player and while it could be tangential, he suffered a new series of lower-half ailments that slowed him down. Dan Quinn's arrival should bring a new outlook for the defense even as he talks of continuing a hybrid-front approach. Ironically, Quinn's never had a double-digit sack contributor since Chris Clemons in 2010 when Quinn was the Seahawks Assistant HC and DL coach, but he's never had an edge player with the talent of Lawrence. The pairing of Quinn and Lawrence looks like a perfect fit. Lawrence will also get a running mate in the prime of his career in Randy Gregory this upcoming season. That's something Lawrence hasn't had the luxury of since he's entered the league and it could result in Lawrence returning to double-digit takedowns. For the past two years, Lawrence has paved the way for other pass rushers to shine. With Quinn arriving and the presence of Gregory, Lawrence may now be afforded more opportunities to get to the quarterback. Lawrence can help turn around the defense’s fortunes. The Cowboys began a remake of the defense this off-season as the unit needed talent to help build around its best players, and Lawrence stands at the top of that list. Lawrence is not only the best defender on the Dallas defense, but he's also their leader. With Tyrone Crawford and Sean Lee retiring, it's up to Lawrence to guide this new defense if they are going to get back to a respectable level in 2021.

You can chat with or follow Ben on twitter @BenGrimaldi. This profile is part of our countdown series to the regular season.

1

1