I am worried about how big of step back the defense might take next year if Tank is not on this team. Obviously his on-field production will be difficult to replace, but I think the loss of his leadership and presence in the locker room might be equally big if not bigger. I know this is somewhat dependent on the compensation for him, but do you think there is any chance of the defense repeating the success from last season without him on the roster? - TOMMY CALDWELL / EATONTOWN, NJ
Bryan: There is no question that not having Lawrence would be a big blow to this defense. It would be even bigger if they had not added Robert Quinn to the mix. Quinn still has the ability to grab double-digit sacks in this scheme and that’s the reason I believe they went after him. If that’s the case, the defense has a chance to remain consistent to what we’ve seen in the past.
Rob: The Cowboys want to get a deal done, and they do have Lawrence’s rights, so to me, it’s premature to start theorizing about having to replace him. The shoulder issue adds a layer of complexity. But I think they need him if they expect to be better than last year. And I think they know they need him. Quinn is a very good player, but the goal should be to improve the pass rush around Lawrence.
A team builds scouting reports on lots of players it will never have on its roster. Do these reports get used when building a game plan? For instance, would the Cowboys do a scouting report on Kyler Murray with the idea that they might find something useful when they have to play him during his career? - CHRISTOPHER KEATING / MASON, TX
Bryan: That’s a really good question. Those thoughts and ideas of a player do stay with them throughout their career. There are things you can plan for, but the Pro Scouts who do the advance work will come up with more ideas of how the player is currently playing and that becomes the real focus.
Rob: Interesting question, because the vast majority of these pre-draft scouting reports are on players who will never be Dallas Cowboys. I’ll defer to my scouting colleague, but my guess is that once a prospect builds up a solid bank of NFL film, that’s the primary way to scout him as an opponent.