(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 Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon.)
Name: Olivier Vernon
Team: New York Giants
Position: Defensive End
Experience: 4 seasons
2016 vs. Cowboys: Vernon will make his debut for the Giants on the very first Sunday of the season, at 3:30 p.m. against the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. The return date between the two division rivals is Dec. 11 at MetLife Stadium.
What's the Deal: Vernon became one of the newest -- and the most-handsomely paid -- members of the Cowboys-Giants rivalry in the spring, when New York signed him to a five-year, $85 million contract with $52.5 million in guarantees. The former Dolphins pass rusher was one of the marquee defenders on the free agent market after tallying 7.5 sacks during his contract season in Miami. The Giants spent a lot of money revamping the unit back in March, as Vernon w $62 million cornerback Janoris Jenkins and $46 million defensive tackle Damon Harrison.
Expect This: The Giants obviously still have long-time playmaker Jason Pierre-Paul, but Vernon was brought in to bolster a pass rush that hasn't been up to snuff since the Giants' most recent Super Bowl run. Pierre-Paul has more name recognition, but the bottom line is that it's unclear how the Pro Bowler will bounce back from the 2015 fireworks accident that sidelined him for most of last season. It's a solid bet that Vernon will man the right side of the line for the Giants. Given the money he's being paid, it'll be expected that he helps this pass rush produce for the first time in several years.
Previous Meetings: The Cowboys' Week 11 meeting against the Dolphins was a showcase outing for Vernon, and it certainly helped him earn a substantial paycheck during the offseason. Vernon bullied Tyron Smith – which doesn't happen often – and finished with five tackles and a sack. He created pressure and forced plays on several other occasions, although the Cowboys got out of Miami with a 24-14 win. That was Vernon's only game against Dallas during a four-year stint with the Dolphins. As a member of the Giants, it's safe to say he'll be getting far more familiar with the Cowboys going forward.
Bryan Broaddus Scouting Report:
- Outstanding athlete who plays with a sudden first step. Can quickly diagnose a play after controlling an opponent, then attack the ball. Quick reactions. Reactionary athlete. Feels pressure and reacts on the move.
- Long arms and big strong hands to control the blocker. Good contact balance. Can anchor down at the point of attack. Has the power to walk a blocker back into the quarterback.
- Good lateral quickness to close the off tackle or bounce outside to run the play out of bounds. Hard man to block. Keeps blockers off his body. Plays square to the line of scrimmage with good knee bend.
- Good overall quickness, agility, and balance. Always attacking the blocker. Can break his man down with moves. Has start-stop quickness. Can get his man to lunge or extend then work right around him. Keeps the blockers off balance.
- Effective spin move when rushing. Nice hips and change of direction. Not a stiff moving player at all. Shows lower body bend and balance. Plays with range, doesn't give up on plays. Very consistent in his approach.
- This not an up-and-down player. Doesn't disappear for stretches in the game. Attacks the pocket to create turnovers. Understands how to use his reach to knock the ball out of the quarterback's hand.
- Disciplined player. Was not fooled run or pass. Works well in games but would only do that to keep double-team blockers off him.
- Gave Tyron Smith all he could handle when the two met last season and rain had nothing to do with it. Should be a handful for Smith now that he is with the New York Giants.
The writers of DallasCowboys.com have ranked the Top 50 players expected to be on the field this season, including the Cowboys.