IRVING, Texas – Say what you will about the concept of destiny, but the Cowboys’ movements in the second round of the NFL draft certainly seemed predetermined.
At the very least, it makes for an eerie story. Two months after releasing the franchise sack leader, DeMarcus Ware to free agency, the Cowboys paid a pretty penny to select what they hope will be their premier pass rusher – a kid named
If that coincidence wasn’t enough, Lawrence, a native of Aiken, South Carolina, is a lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan and now has the rare opportunity to replace a player he grew up emulating for his favorite team.
“Words can’t even explain it,” Lawrence said. “It’s just really a blessing to become a Cowboy – you’ve wanted to be a Cowboy all your life and now you get to put on that blue and that silver. It’s amazing.”
The comparisons to Ware were bound to come, regardless of the ironic similarities in name. This coming season will be the first time in a decade someone other than Ware will anchor the right side of the Dallas defense. If there’s anyone who understands the gravity of that, though, it might be Lawrence. The Boise State standout said he has spent plenty of time trying to mirror and learn from his predecessor’s game.
“I know it’s some big shoes to fill, but I’m going to work my butt off and give it my all,” he said. “I’m going to do all I can to become the best and one day fill those shoes.”
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, and Lawrence himself, won’t let the comparisons extend beyond that, however. Regardless of any coincidences, Garrett said the Cowboys were willing to trade up for Lawrence because of what he can bring to the defensive scheme.
“It’s interesting that they have the same first name, but that’s not what we’re in the business of doing,” Garrett said. “We feel like we have an opportunity in the draft to look at the landscape of players who can help us become better in the scheme we’re playing. We want to choose players who are our kind of guys; who fit into our scheme the best, and we felt this guy was the guy on board who best did that for us.”
The fact that the Cowboys traded up to acquire a player with an off-field history speaks volumes about how well they think he can fit their defensive scheme. Lawrence was suspended three times at Boise State for unspecified rules violations – the details of which he didn’t clarify.
“It was just me growing up, adjusting really, to the college life,” he said. “Coming from a small town, as any college, I had a lot of adjusting to go through.”
Ware developed a sterling, face-of-the-franchise reputation during his time in Dallas, which invites more comparisons. But Garrett said the Cowboys were satisfied Lawrence had moved past his issues – otherwise he wouldn’t be joining the roster.
“Our scouts do such a good job with all these players, understanding where they came from and the circumstances behind any incidents they may or may not have,” he said. “We are very thorough discussing those things, and we get our arms around them, or else we wouldn’t have them on our board.”
The comparisons will persist, regardless -- that’s part of football. The newest Cowboy isn’t interested in fueling them, though. Whether or not it was destiny that brought him to Dallas, Lawrence intends to carve his own legacy from here.
Asked whether he’d consider sporting No. 94 -- Ware’s old number -- upon joining the team, Lawrence chuckled.
“No, no – I’m my own Demarcus,” he said. “I don’t like to try to be nobody else, I’m going to be me. And I’m going to do it well.”