Mac Engel

Cowboys in draft bind with Three Stooges on defensive line

Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, left, is facing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, while Greg Hardy, right, was a complete bust for Dallas.
Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, left, is facing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, while Greg Hardy, right, was a complete bust for Dallas. Star-Telegram

(On behalf of so many generations — RIP, Prince.)

Whomever the Dallas Cowboys select with the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, just know the team will say that not only were they surprised he was there but that he was “the best player available.” Even if he isn’t.

In this case, “the best player available” is going to be a defensive dude, and in all probability it’s going to be a defensive lineman.

According to NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock, who is well-versed in the draft but guessing like the rest, recent events will force the Cowboys to select Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa at No. 4 on Thursday in the first round. Our own NFL draft expert — Charean “Mother Football” Williams — has the Cowboys taking Bosa, too.

Do not let any Cowboys’ suit sell you into thinking that this pick is Best Available over Need. Not unless it’s Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey.

However exceptionally well this franchise has built its offensive line, it has been the polar opposite with its defensive line. Think natural disaster. This team has butchered the position unlike any other.

The Cowboys’ continued flirtation and inclusion of boneheads has them in a hole with the fourth overall pick. Only our Cowboys. The Three Stooges, who preferred themselves over their teammates, have put their franchise in a bind long before the season begins.

It was about one year ago the team hoped that Greg Hardy, DeMarcus Lawrence and rookie Randy Gregory would provide the pass rush it has lacked since DeMarcus Ware was in his prime.

The failure that was the Greg Hardy Reclamation Project and the four-game suspensions for Gregory and Lawrence for flunking drug tests have screwed a defense that needs impact rather than ignorance from its players.

Lawrence has reportedly said he plans to appeal his suspension. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick had a drug suspension reduced two years ago because the substance he used wasn’t performance enhancing.

The flunked drug tests by Gregory and Lawrence are on them, but do not dismiss the ever-reaching influence of Hardy — one of the least helpful teammates to hit this team since Terrell Owens.

It’s what I said last year — there was a reason why the Carolina Panthers wanted no part of one of the NFL’s most productive defensive linemen who was in his prime: He was a horrible teammate.

The way it played out, all of this “high quality character” rhetoric from coach Jason Garrett was about as useful as a presidential campaign promise — it sounds good but in reality it seldom works.

The Cowboys’ hopes of reforming these guys with their “program” is about as effective as a series of crossed fingers and hope that the individual takes accountability to their teammates seriously. They do right up until the time it conflicts with what they want to do.

Even though Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has not delivered a flat “N-O” to bringing back Hardy on what will obviously be a cheap deal, it’s clear the coaches and Stephen Jones want no part of The Kraken.

“I don’t know who lines up at Week 1 at [defensive line for the Cowboys],” Mayock said Friday.

That would be Tyrone Crawford, and possibly Charlotte Jones Anderson. Not necessarily in that order. After that, feel free to apply.

Other than Crawford, the Week 1 D-line starters are Terrell McClain, Jack Crawford and Benson Mayowa.

That makes me sports sick, too.

This should not have happened; defensive line was not supposed to be a position of need. Hardy was supposed to not be a complete idiot. Gregory was supposed to mature and show some signs as a quick rush end. Lawrence would build on his eight-sack season from last year.

Instead, Hardy better not return. After missing so much time as a rookie due to injury, Gregory will now miss the first quarter of the season because he likes weed too much. And the team’s best pass rusher — Tank Lawrence — will, right now, miss games against the New York Giants, Chicago Bears, Washington Redskins and San Francisco 49ers.

Mayock insists Bosa is a good player. He might be but, at No. 4, he feels like a reach.

Best-case scenario is the team trades down Thursday in the first round and still selects a defensive player, with another selection or two gained in the process. That would be ideal, but don’t plan on anything other than the Cowboys picking at No. 4.

Mayock also said that he thinks the Cowboys will look at cornerback or wide receiver with their second pick, even though he is a fan of the team drafting a quarterback early.

This is the highest the Cowboys have picked since 1991, when they took Russell Maryland with the first overall pick.

The good news? He was a defensive lineman, too. And 31 picks later, Brett Favre was still on the board.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

NFL Draft: Round 1

7 p.m. Thursday, ESPN

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram