Cowboys DeMarcus Lawrence Among Top NFL Defensive Player Of Year Candidates

Mike Fisher
August 08, 2018 - 10:10 am
Demarcus Lawrence



OXNARD (105.3 THE FAN) - The evolution of DeMarcus Lawrence isn't just about an NFL player who is trying to "secure the bag,'' as they say, about using this $17-mil franchise tag season with the Dallas Cowboys to "break the bank,'' as Tank himself says.

More immediately, it's about the standout defensive end becoming an NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

Oddsmakers at Bodoga are laying it out like this:

J.J. Watt: 5/1
Joey Bosa: 11/2
Aaron Donald: 11/2
Khalil Mack: 11/2
Von Miller: 9/1
Jalen Ramsey: 14/1
Luke Kuechly: 22/1
Cameron Jordan: 22/1
DeMarcus Lawrence: 22/1

If Lawrence really plays at that level -- and he and his coaches believe he will, as last year's 14.5 sack total only tells part of the story of what he does and what he can be -- he'll continue to get this sort of individual attention on one condition:

The Cowboys need to be as good as he is.

Without having done the research, a very educated guess can tell all of us that rarely if ever does being a finalist for DPOY or MVP arrive hand-in-hand with playing on a team with a poor record. The argument is obvious and sound: "If you're so valuable, how come your team didn't even make the playoffs?''

One of the great strengths of Lawrence, just 26, is his ability to play the run and the pass - a strength that figures to maybe hurt his sack total but help his team win. The club proudly acknowledges this, and proudly acknowledges Tank's willingness to play hurt, citing injuries as a reason it took the former second-round pick a couple of seasons to start racking up big numbers.

But last year, Lawrence played in all 16 games. And this summer at Cowboys training camp in Oxnard, he's part of a small and distinguished group that gets the planned "veterans day off.'' That's Tyron Smith and Sean Lee and players of that ilk, star-caliber players who are virtually irreplaceable as the Cowboys attempt to climb back into the NFL playoffs.

And when Tank does practice? He's clearly attempting to prove something to the world, to the Cowboys and to himself.

The other day, he forcefully requested the opportunity to line up, one-by-one in one-on-one drills, Tyron Smith, Connor Williams, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin and La'El Collins. It was a test of talent, endurance, will.

I've seen it written that Tank beat all five guys, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. I'll leave it to the coaches watching tape to actually claim that.

But DeMarcus Lawrence is right there on a level with the best O-line in football. And the oddsmakers say he's right there on a level with the best defensive studs in football, too.