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 2015 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence.
Name: DeMarcus Lawrence
Experience: 1 season
College: Boise State
Key stat: For the No. 34 overall pick, Lawrence's two total sacks as a rookie might come as a disappointment. It'll help offset the disappointment that both of those sacks came on the biggest stage possible – the playoffs.
Contract Status: Signed through 2017
2014 Impact: Have to give him a great deal of credit for the way that he fought through his rookie season and with all that happened to him. It would have been easy for him to check out and lose touch with the team for those missed practices and games due to his toe injury, but he didn't. He returned and showed the promise and ability that many of us felt that he was capable of when he was drafted out of Boise State. Even then he didn't have all the answers as a pass rusher and run defender, but he worked hard daily to improve his craft. Rod Marinelli, Ben Bloom and Leon Lett did not give him an inch when it came
to his preparation and Lawrence responded well. Each week you could see the improvement in his game in the way that he played with better technique. There was a snap or two where he played like he was fooled on the play and that had to do with his lack of experience but for the most part was able to hang in there and get better each week. His pass rush improved as well each week. There is no question that he has the traits to be outstanding in this area. Worked really hard on the practice field to develop better counters moves and a plan in order to rush better. Saw an example of what he is capable of in the playoff game against the Lions as a pass rusher.
Where He Fits: Depending on what happens potentially in free agency and with the draft, there is possibility that he could be the starter at left defensive end with Jeremy Mincey still playing on that right side. Showed the ability to play the run and with more added weight could be an effective player at that spot. As a matter of fact, he showed much better ability to playing the run than he did rushing the passer. Could play either spot and be just fine.
David Helman: It's amazing the impact that a couple of games can have on a guy's stock. If the Cowboys' season had ended at Week 17, you'd chalk Lawrence up as a slight disappointment. It wouldn't have necessarily been his fault, as his foot injury held him out for eight weeks and limited his ability to make an impact. Instead, the Cowboys had a two-game playoff run where the rookie shined. He sacked Matthew Stafford during the most crucial possession of the win against Detroit, and he recovered crucial fumbles – twice, as a result of his own miscue. A week later, he was one of just a few players to have success reaching Aaron Rodgers. It was a tantalizing glimpse of why the Cowboys traded away their 78th overall pick to acquire Lawrence. As a result, it's only going to increase the hype on his second season. Given a full, healthy year in the program, the expectations for Lawrence will be sky-high.