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20 Questions: Who Will Lead The Cowboys' Defense In Sacks In 2016?

The Cowboys have completed their OTAs and minicamp practices. The offseason is history. Training camp in Oxnard is up next in late July.

The staff writers at – Rob Phillips, David Helman, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus – are attempting to answer 20 pressing questions as the team gets ready for camp and the 2016 season. 

Today, our staff continues the series focusing on who will produce the most sacks in 2016. Last year, DeMarcus Lawrence led the defense with eight sacks.

No. 7) Who Will Lead The Defense In Sacks?

Nick Eatman: I wish I had a better answer than picking a guy that will serve a four-game suspension, but I just don't. We did see DeMarcus Lawrence go on a tear last season and if he can get anywhere close to that pace again when he comes back, he can still flirt with double-digit sacks. I don't see anyone else getting more than six, so my answer is Lawrence. I would like to give you a wildcard or darkhorse pick, but I really don't have one. Maybe Mayowa can get hot and become that speed-rusher this team needs and perhaps Tapper uses his quickness to get a few sacks. But leading the team? It has to be Lawrence for me.[embeddedad0]

David Helman: I'm going to go with Tyrone Crawford, for a variety of reasons. Firstly, he's not facing a four-game suspension – which will give him a leg up over the Cowboys' other top pass rushers. More importantly, he plays the all-important three-technique position, which has long been touted as the most crucial position in Rod Marinelli's defense. We saw how much a good three-tech can do for a defense when Jason Hatcher notched 11 sacks in 2013. Crawford is being paid $9 million per seasons to deliver those types of results, and he needs to deliver – not just because he's well-paid, but because there aren't many other options to generate pressure.  Crawford played most of the season with a bum shoulder last year, so the hope is that he'll be fully healthy in 2016. If he is, I think he's capable of seven or eight sacks – which is likely good enough to lead the team.

Bryan Broaddus:Benson Mayowa. I really do believe that the pro scouts got this player right from what I was able to see from the OTA practices and on his tape from the Raiders. He showed me the ability to capture the edge and I believe he has the ability to finish. I know the numbers don't say that now but at the end of the season I think they will. I also like the fact that he started his career with the Seahawks. Those scouts know a thing or two about edge rushers and they saw something in him that gives me some hope that he can develop.

Rob Phillips: Intriguing question because the two most talented edge rushers on this roster won't play the first four games. I think DeMarcus Lawrence found a comfort zone at left defensive end in his second year. He has the ability to capitalize on certain matchups on the left side and lead this defense in sacks again in 12 games, not 16. Due in part to the four-game suspensions for Lawrence and Randy Gregory, this defense might not have a double-digit sack leader for a third straight season. I think if Rod Marinelli could get six-to-seven sacks from five or six players, he might take that. Mayowa is one to watch: he has the most opportunity to produce as a possible Week 1 starter at right end.

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