The Dallas Cowboys will have another “Demarcus” rushing the passer from the right end position.
They can only hope that Boise State defensive end Demarcus Lawrence is half as good as future Hall of Famer DeMarcus Ware, who is now playing for the Denver Broncos after being released by the Cowboys in March.
Lawrence was the only player the club targeted and drafted on the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft.
The Cowboys wanted him so much that they made a trade with the Washington Redskins at the beginning of the second round on Friday.
The Cowboys sent their second- and third-round picks, No. 47 and No. 78 overall, to move up 13 spots to take Lawrence with the 34th overall selection.
“We just really liked him,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We felt like we needed to come up with an impact player in the front seven in this draft. He is a right end candidate and there are only a few right end guys in this draft. He was one one of them.”
The Cowboys ranked Lawrence as the third-best pass rusher in the draft behind South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, who went first on Thursday to the Houston Texans and UCLA’s Anthony Barr, who went ninth to the Minnesota Vikings.
The Cowboys came into the draft with a primary focus of targeting help for a defense that finished last in the league last season and was without their only proven pass rusher in the aging and departed Ware.
After taking Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin with the 16th overall pick on Thursday because the defenders they wanted were gone and they decided to pass on Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, the Cowboys were set on getting a top defender on the second day of the draft.
The process started Thursday night when vice president Stephen Jones had some initial talks with the Redskins, but they heated up on Friday when Washington was on the clock. The Cowboys gave up a little more than they should have, according to the NFL trade charts. And they gave up their only third-round pick, leaving them with only one selection on Friday.
But the Cowboys did what they felt they had to do to get the player they need to hopefully replace Ware’s production on defense. They believe he will be the perfect complement to defensive tackle Henry Melton, who they signed in free agency, and help a pass rush that was among the worst in the league in 2013.
“After going over it last night after the draft and going over it again this morning, we really felt like we wanted to help our defense,” Stephen Jones said. “We knew we might have to give up a little more than the charts read out. That happens sometimes when you want some guy and we really wanted this guy. We didn’t want to take a chance on losing him. We sweetened the pot a little bit and got the deal done.”
Lawrence, who was one of the Cowboys’ pre-draft visitors, and could be the starter at right end. He was a big-time playmaker in his two years at Boise State with 20 sacks, 34 tackles for loss and forcing seven fumbles.
Being drafted by the Cowboys was a dream come true for him because he has been a Cowboys fan all his life.
“Words can’t even explain it,” Lawrence said during a conference call. “It’s just really a blessing just to become a Cowboy. You wanted to be a Cowboy all your life and now you get to put on that blue and that silver, so it’s just amazing.”
Lawrence knows all about the player he is expected to replace. He said he has patterned his game after Ware and hopes to fill his shoes. But he wants to make his own name as a “Demarcus.” He is ready for Ware’s old position, but has no interest in Ware’s No. 94 jersey number.
“I’m my own Demarcus,” Lawrence said. “I don’t like to be nobody else. I’m going to be me and I’m going to do it well. I know I have some big shoes to fill, but I’m going to work my butt off and give it my all. I’m going to do all I can to become the best and fill those shoes.”