With the 28th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected Taco Charlton from the University of Michigan. Now that Dallas has filled the need for a pass rusher, they may very well have a cornerstone upon which to build their defense.
Getting to Know the Cowboy’s First Round Pick
Vidauntae “Taco” Charlton is a first-team All-Ohio defensive end who left his Columbus suburb to join the Michigan Wolverines alongside tight end Jake Butt. As a true freshman, he started on special teams with two tackles until he saw much more playing time playing time as a sophomore in 2014 with 19 tackles, 5.5 for tackles loss, 3.5 sacks, and one start. Only starting in three games his junior year, he was determined to make his presence known and racked up 30 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks. After years of improvement and determination, he was named a starter in his senior year, earning Big Ten First Team Honors.
Charlton clearly shows speed, agility, athleticism, and a yearning to improve: he finished his college career with an astounding 94 tackles, 28 tackles for loss, and 19 sacks.
NFL scouts were struck by his extraordinary size, 6’6” and 280 pounds, and his unbelievable 34” arm length that gave him an undeniable advantage when facing offensive tackles in college.
So How Will Charlton Fit Into the Dallas Defense?
Dallas has long been searching for an assertive pass rusher to no avail. Whether due to off-field issues or a lack of durability, the Cowboys have not previously found a steady defensive end that the defense can rely on. With none of the baggage of previous athletes in his position, Charlton seems to be in the turning point.
Adding on to his impressive size and athleticism, Taco has consistently proven his ability to set the edge well. He is expected to be able to rush the pass from the interior, as well as play on both sides of the ball.
NFL Draft scouts argue that the strongest parts of his game are his strength and his hand usage, which allow him to unfailingly keep offensive lineman out of his setting and dominate in rushing the quarterback.
Why Should Cowboys Fans be Optimistic
Taco’s hand usage and power open up many more opportunities for the coaching staff to focus on other aspects of his technique during training camp. Although he has not shown quite the explosiveness he might need to in the NFL, there is always room for improvement under a high-caliber coach such as Rod Marinelli.
In the post draft conference on Thursday, owner Jerry Jones showed great optimism:
“We dream of an athlete that can be an all-down player…You have visions of a guy with this kind of size…What we have seen clearly in the environment that we have with our defensive front is that we unquestionably escalate passion. We escalate effort and just create an atmosphere of playing above your level. He has got such athletic ability that it is something to get excited about.”
(Photo: Flickr for Commercial Use | Maize & Blue Nation)