(Editor's Note: With the offseason in full swing, the focus is now shifting to the 2016 season, where the Cowboys have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL. Not only do the Cowboys face five playoff teams but many of the top players in football. So the writers of DallasCowboys.com have ranked the Top 50 players expected to be on the field this season, including the Cowboys. Today, we continue the list with Cincinnati defensive end Carlos Dunlap.)
Name: Carlos Dunlap
Position: Defensive End
2016 vs. Cowboys:Dunlap and Cincinnati's fearsome defense figure to be one of the toughest tests of the early season. The Cowboys welcome the Bengals, who have made four-straight playoff appearances, to AT&T Stadium on Oct. 9 for a Week 5 showdown.
What's the Deal: He might not be a household name across the league, but Dunlap has gradually developed into one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. His sack totals have increased every year since 2012, all the way to 13.5 this past season – which was fourth-best in the league and a single-season record for the Bengals. Working alongside All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins and fellow defensive end Michael Johnson, Dunlap helps anchor one of the most ferocious defensive lines in the league.
Expect This: Typically, you'd expect a team's best pass rusher to line up at right defensive end, matching up with the left tackle. It won't be Tyron Smith who's assigned to Dunlap, however. Dunlap usually plays on the left side, which likely means he'll factor as one of the toughest assignments for Doug Free this season.
Previous Meetings: Dunlap played but did not start in the Bengals' most recent meeting with the Cowboys, back in 2012. He played 50 defensive snaps, notching a half-sack and three total tackles in the process. Trailing, 19-10, late in the fourth quarter, Tony Romo helped lead Dallas to 10 unanswered points, with Dan Bailey kicking a game-winning field goal as time expired. Dunlap was still in college at Florida in the last meeting before that – a 31-22 Cowboys win in 2008. That game was played at Texas Stadium, and the Bengals' top players at the time were Carson Palmer and T.J. Houshmandzadeh – just to give you an idea of how much the league has changed in eight years.
Bryan Broaddus Scouting Report:
- Lines up as a left defensive end. Nice initial quickness off the snap. Will extend his hands to control the blocker.
- Some stiffness in the way he moves but can close ground once he sees the ball. Hard guy to fool with play action, aware. Can hold the point. Rangy and long. Lateral movement is good.
- Works well in the twist game. Can get around the pick to free himself. Hard to move when he closes down. Can capture the corner. Good at getting rid of the blockers' hands. Can get a surge when he puts his head down and pushes on the blocker. Can redirect once he gets up the field. \
- Good use of the spin move on the pass rush to buy him space. Quick up the field. Nice use of the arm-over move.
- Dunlap is no match for tight ends that try to block him in pass pro, but he works well down the line to find the ball. Shows range in his movement. Knows how to play with leverage. Can set up blockers with his pass rush.
- He is in the backfield plenty, and he would have more sacks if he would finish just a bit better. Has a knack for going a little deeper than quarterback. He will play as a drop end in certain coverage situations.
- He shows the ability to retrace his steps and get back in on the tackle. Not as good as a player when he has to slide down inside the tackle, needs to be wide to work well. He has trouble when he rushes down the middle. He tends to get held up on blocks. Aware to get his hands up in the throwing lanes.
- Will not be an easy matchup for the Cowboys to deal with – have to account for the way he rushes the passer and plays the run.