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High Low

High Low: Depth issue at EDGE drives 2024 draft need


FRISCO, Texas — As the seconds tick away and the 2024 NFL Draft continues to barrel toward the Dallas Cowboys, they have several positions that will need to be addressed with their seven current picks, with a likely chance to increase that number of selections a time or two before the event is in the books.

Though not as entirely worrisome as positions like linebacker, offensive line and running back, the reality of what the Cowboys lost in free agency at defensive end can not be ignored.

Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler both followed Dan Quinn to the Washington Commanders and that's a lot of rotational (and special teams) firepower that has to be replaced behind Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence.

The brand-new series "High Low" dives into it, with each edition to follow focusing on a different position group leading up to draft week.

Odds: High

Micah Parsons: I spoke about Parsons briefly in the linebackers segment of this series, but it's no secret he's the definitive pass rusher for the Cowboys. That means you can continue to count him primarily in the EDGE group going forward, as he bookends the defensive line opposite DeMarcus Lawrence. Parsons is hot off of a 2023 season that saw him rack up a league-leading 99 quarterback pressures (it was actually far higher if you extrapolate for holding penalties that went uncalled) and a career-high sack tally (14) — an unreal 40.5 sacks in only three seasons. Any attempt to relegate him to mostly off-ball duties would be criminal activity.

DeMarcus Lawrence: Time and again, Lawrence proves he can be timeless in his level of play. The 31-year-old is now a four-time Pro Bowler after earning the honor again in both 2022 and 2023, and he shows no signs of slowing down. He's also one of, if not the, best run defender off of the edge in the entire NFL, and that's a tough skill to find in a dominant pass rusher. He provides a superb complement to what Parsons brings to the table, continually.

Sam Williams: This is the point of the depth chart in which question marks begin to quickly arise, not that there aren't any regarding Lawrence — though his are centered around the fact he'll require another contract extension very soon — but the departure of both Fowler and Armstrong loom large here. Williams has some freakish abilities off of the edge, but it feels as if he's still a bit raw and requires refinement; and that is especially true when tallying his number of penalties that sometimes swings contests in the wrong direction. Heading into the all-important third year, Williams will be expected to become a breakout player.

Junior Fehoko, Durrell Johnson: Though Fehoko's first year in the NFL was met with the harsh reality of just how difficult it is to earn game snaps, having not taken the field once in 2023, the fact is he's got a more-than-solid skill set and an elite motor that the Cowboys will try and fine tune to make him an impact rotational talent, at minimum, next season; and his ability to play inside or on the edge bodes well for him. Johnson has a steeper hill to climb after joining the club as an undrafted free agent last year, but his presence at leaves presents an opportunity for depth/insurance.

You have to love what the Cowboys have atop their defensive end depth chart, to say the very least, but there are too many questions to be answered now beneath the top two spots for Dallas to avoid using a 2024 draft pick at the position — though it could be a late-rounder.

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