*Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players' impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2016 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence.)*
Name: DeMarcus Lawrence
Position: Defensive End
Experience: 2 seasons
College: Boise State
Key stat:As it stands right now, Lawrence is the only Dallas defensive end under contract for 2016 who has recorded an official NFL sack.
Contract Status:Signed through 2017.
2015 Impact:Other than Sean Lee, Lawrence was the best defensive player on this roster. He was moved to left defensive end last spring, and the moved not only proved beneficial to the team but to him as well. It's a natural position for him in this scheme due to his ability to play with power at the point of attack, but also provide a pass rush off the edge in those situations. When the focus was on Greg Hardy and Randy Gregory, Lawrence went about his job with little fanfare. But as the season wore on, it was clear who the better of the players was. Where I wasn't sure about the move was whether Lawrence would be able to handle having the ball pounded at him consistently. There was little college film where he had to play that way. He was a right side defender and was used to being more of a chase player. Where Lawrence really developed was during that period of his rookie season where he missed time with his toe injury. Those weeks off the field allowed him to develop his body strength to handle the position the way he has.
Where He Fits:I think he will continue to play at the left defensive end spot, but he could be moved to the other side if the front office drafts a guy like Joey Bosa. I could see Lawrence as a better fit there due to his experience as an edge rusher from that side and the fact that Bosa looks more comfortable on the left side in the way he plays. Bosa is not a quick-twitch athlete like you would see in Lawrence or even Randy Gregory. Lawrence could fill a couple of different spots if that is the direction the front office chooses to go.
David Helman: It's funny to think that if you had asked me about DeMarcus Lawrence in October, I'd have told you the Cowboys were getting a disappointing return on a guy they traded up to get. Fast forward to the end of the year, and he's the team leader in sacks and was a genuine force that opposing offenses had to account for. All of that said, there's so much room for him to grow, and it's going to be fascinating to see what the Cowboys do with him going forward – especially given that he's coming off a minor back surgery. He obviously flourished at left defensive end and handled the physical nature of that position well. But what the team does to address the pass rush could determine a lot for him. Will they bring back Greg Hardy or add another defensive end, allowing Lawrence to stay on the left? Or will they shift Lawrence to the right side and allow him to be the anchor of their pass rush going forward? I think he'll be fine either way, but this offseason feels important for determining his role going forward.