IRVING, Texas – It's not just the first name of the Cowboys' second selection of the 2014 NFL Draft that'll put more focus on Demarcus Lawrence than the rest of the picks.
The comparisons to DeMarcus Ware are both inevitable and unfair for the Boise State product, who was deemed a perfect enough fit for the Dallas 4-3 defense at right defensive end that the Cowboys traded up 13 spots to get him.
But it's the latter point that'll turn all the attention on this year's draft to Lawrence. In a draft touted for its depth, the Cowboys, who needed defensive help, surrendered their No. 47 overall pick and their third-round pick at No. 78 overall to move up to No. 34 overall to grab the defensive end.
Essentially, Lawrence is the Cowboys' second- and third-round pick. For that reason, it almost makes more sense to think of him as a late first-rounder.
The deal could end up paying off in a major way. There's no point in waiting around on a group of players when there's only one a team covets. The Cowboys knew their target, and they made sure to snag the 6-3, 251-pound right defensive end, who finished with 10.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss last season.
After Lawrence, the Cowboys felt the remainder of pressure players at right defensive end dropped off dramatically.
But the cost was striking, and the Cowboys knew they paid more than what any draft board would deem worthy. Owner/general manager Jerry Jones said the Cowboys "very consciously" overpaid and stepped up to ensure they got the player they wanted and wouldn't need to run through street free agents at the position all season like they had in previous years.
"I don't want to draw on it, but we knew from yesterday morning when we walked in that we were going to overpay for Lawrence," Jones said after the draft. "What we didn't see that we could run through… and we didn't get it last year, was a right defensive end that had the potential to apply pressure. That's why it made him the premium."
The Cowboys had other defensive line options still on the board at the time of the trade, but they valued that right defensive end spot enough to make the move.
Defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman went No. 37 overall, 10 picks prior to what would have been the Cowboys' original second-round position.
The Redskins selected Stanford outside linebacker/defensive end Trent Murphy with the pick they got from Dallas at No. 47. Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy – a player the Cowboys liked, but not as much as Lawrence as a right defensive end – went No. 60 overall. [embedded_ad]
Defensive linemen Will Sutton, Louis Nix and Kareem Martin went No. 82, 83 and 84, respectively, a few picks after the Cowboys would have selected at No. 78 overall in the third round.
The Cowboys would go on to grab a player likely to backup Sean Lee at middle linebacker in the fourth round and then traded one of six seventh-round picks to move up in the fifth round for a receiver. After the Lawrence pick, the pass rush wasn't addressed again until the seventh round, when Dallas grabbed two defensive linemen in Stanford's Ben Gardner and Northern Illinois' Ken Bishop.
Rarely will a second-round pick have more pressure to perform than the first-round selection.
But when a third-round pick's traded to move up for a defensive lineman – the only one selected in the first six rounds on a team that finished last in the league in defense and lost DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher – more eyes will be on the newest Demarcus than any player in the Cowboys' draft.