Pick & Role: Always Needing Pass Rush, Cowboys Have Plan For Armstrong

FRISCO, Texas – Heading into the NFL Draft, the Cowboys had some positions that definitely needed to be addressed, such as linebacker, safety and guard. Other areas like running back, quarterback and cornerback seemed rather secure for the moment.

And there are always some in between positions that seem covered for now, but could always use an upgrade, and that's where defensive end would fall.

Yes, the team drafted that position in the first round last year with Taco Charlton. And yes, they issued a $17 million franchise tag to DeMarcus Lawrence. And yes, they signed Kony Ealy in the offseason as well.

For 2018, the Cowboys could be in good shape at end, but that's why drafting the positon made sense, simply because things could look vastly different in 2019.

Lawrence is on a one-year deal, as is Ealy. Charlton's deal has four more, including this year, but the Cowboys are still figuring out just how much he can contribute.

Tyrone Crawford is currently playing end, but like many other players on the roster, doesn't have long-term security, considering his cap hit will be over $10 million next year.

So if the right fit came along, the Cowboys would certainly jump at the chance to upgrade the pass-rushing position.

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Fourth-round picks have always been intriguing, mainly because teams typically have the longest time to evaluate the round. Even before the three-day format, the fourth round was usually the start of Saturday's picks, as it was again this year. So teams have overnight to really study the best players available on the board. In fact, the Cowboys nearly jumped back into the late third round to snag Dorance Armstrong, meaning they would've had to trade another pick to get there.

Instead, they waited until their original spot in the fourth to select Armstrong, a player many draft experts had listed as a third-round prospect.

In fact, his junior year probably was the worst statistically of his three seasons, as he garnered just 1.5 sacks. Most of that was attributed to the numerous amount of double-team blocks he faced in 2017 as Kansas' top defensive player.

In 2016, he had 10 sacks and 20 tackles for loss, making him an All-Big 12 performer and prompted the coaches to name him the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year in the conference.

While he didn't get the sacks off the edge he desired, Armstrong did prove to be a solid run stopper, making 63 tackles his junior season.

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On this team, Armstrong needs to make sure he's in the top eight. Typically, the Cowboys use an eight-man rotation on game days, with about four ends and four tackles. Some of them can play both spots, which can vary the numbers that go to the game.

But Armstrong can make sure he's in that mix if he can continually get to the quarterback in pass-rushing situations. With Lawrence, Ealy, Crawford and Charlton already in the mix, Armstrong will have his work cut out for him. Don't forget about Charles Tapper, who has battled injuries the last two years and Datone Jones, who signed with the team late last season.

But fourth-round picks still carry enough weight to garner reps. If Armstrong can make the most of them, or at least show constant progress such as Charlton did last year, he should have no problems providing some depth to a much-needed position.

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