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What's Up at EDGE? An influx of youth awaits


FRISCO, Texas — The duality of youth and a veteran presence with the edge group has given the Cowboys a unique advantage both in the pass rush game and defending the run since the arrival of Dan Quinn in 2021. The last three seasons have seen Micah Parsons rise into an immediate weapon off either edge while DeMarcus Lawrence has been able to hone in as a backfield inhibitor.

Now with the arrival of Mike Zimmer as defensive coordinator and the departures of Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler Jr., things could look a little different with the edge group but the recipe up top remains mostly the same with Parsons and Lawrence.

The presence of both young and not-so-young in the edge group will give Dallas some multiplicity in 2024 both in play-style and experience. That makes up a fun group that begs to ask "What's Up" in the edge group going into Zimmer's first season with the group.

What We Know: At this point, the Cowboys know that they are getting at least two dominant Pro Bowl-level talents in Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence. Parsons brings the heat in the pass rush game, and Lawrence brings the experience and skill to seal off the edge in the run game with the occasional pass rush move that can decimate an opposing offensive tackle with his power. Each has been reliable on the field over the course of the last three seasons (aside from Lawrence's injury in 2021) and all signs indicate that their high level of play will continue in 2024.

What We Don't Know: Young players will have to step up in the void of two departed pass rushers in Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler Jr., but who exactly will those guys be? Sam Williams is the prime contender to take those reps, and he has shown a special ability to rush the passer in his first two seasons. Power rushers such as Durrell Johnson, Viliami Fehoko Jr. and Tyrus Wheat could also factor into the equation, but who emerges from that group to be one of the lead rushers in the second rotation of defensive linemen may be something that will have to be determined in Oxnard or during the preseason.

What to Watch For: The Cowboys surprised everybody when they decided to spend a second-round selection on Marshawn Kneeland who could be the wild-card in the edge group in 2024. Kneeland brings a unique combination of athleticism and power that drew comparisons to none other than DeMarcus Lawrence during the draft process. How he is used in Zimmer's system could give Dallas a unique rotational body that can attack the backfield on any given play and seal the edges in the run game to give Dallas a much-needed boost in that department.

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