SAN BERNADINO, CALIF.
When the pads finally come on, who do you think will make an impact as far as the linebackers are concerned?
Bryan: The linebacker that I am looking forward to seeing once we get to Oxnard is rookie Will Smith. In shorts and helmets, he doesn't appear to be the best looking athlete when it comes to movement but when I studied his film at Texas Tech, he was always around the ball and in the piles. He is a slippery player that is quick to read and react so when the bodies start to fly around, I really like his chances to show up and make some plays and earn a spot on this roster.
David: It's probably got to be Justin Durant. He almost seemed like a forgotten member of the defense until Sean Lee went down, and now he looks like the favorite to start in the middle. Injuries limited him to one of his most disappointing pro seasons last year, but the Cowboys need him to step up and play like he was capable of in Detroit. Is he up to the task? And more importantly, can he stay healthy and give the defense a reliable option.
When I look at DeMarcus Lawrence I can't help to think of Jason Pierre-Paul of the New York Giants. Is this comparison fair?
Bryan: I understand where you are going here but physically there are differences in the two players. Matter of fact, about two inches and 20 pounds and that is when Pierre-Paul was coming out of South Florida. There is surely room for Lawrence to grow and I believe that he will much like DeMarcus Ware did while he was here. Where Lawrence is very similar is in the arm length and his ability to extend those arms and play with that leverage. There were several snaps when matched up with Tyron Smith that he was able to control him with his length and some surprising power which is something that I had observed before when Pierre-Paul had played Smith in the past. I don't think you are far off base here.
David: I'll allow it based on the premise of pure athleticism. I'm not sure if they look that similar in body type, but if Lawrence excels early in his career it might just be because he's an incredibly gifted guy – because he's still got a lot of developing to do. All that said, I feel pretty leery about comparing Lawrence to a guy who has chalked up a 16.5-sack season. But he's certainly a guy Lawrence should aspire to.