What should we expect from Taco Charlton this year? That’s a question from an interested member of our blog community and can be found in the Open Forum section going forward.
Lets look at a few things first, some of which we touched on in our “in depth” look at Taco. His senior year was his only year as a starter and the only year he played in a 4 man front. Fortunately. it was at a big time program at Michigan under hard case, Jim Harbough. Yet this is still just one year of experience in both the scheme and as a starter. He played all across their front, making his future NFL position part of the scouting process. The Cowboys are in a pretty desperate need of a RDE and that’s where they ultimately want him playing. Everyday Taco comes to work now, he’s staring eye to eye, with perennial All Pro, Tyrun Smith. That will speed up his progress. Taco’s skills are good but still pretty raw, with athleticism and traits that have the arrow pointing upward. That’s why he was selected, more for the upside then the current skills in his bag.
Should we, expect double digit sacks as a requirement for our 1st round selection to be a great pick? The team projects Taco to be a RDE, but will that be the position he really starts at come September? I’d tap the brakes on his first season, as much of it will be working on his pass rushing skills, predominantly from that RDE position. He, as do all rookies, he needs a full off season inside the training room with Mike Woicik. This coaching staff isn’t easily inclined to throw defensive players in the mix early. Anthony Brown, may change their thinking a little, but his playing was out of necessity with injuries. Marinelli tends to use players in rotations and give them limited snaps and roles as their development progresses. The team has a player, in Benson Mayowa, who after getting sat down early, came on and led the team in sacks with six, mostly from the RDE spot. To them, there’s no need to rush Taco into the fire. They also have Irving who can play out there. Playing time should increase as the season moves along, provided he’s showing the coaches what they want to see. They will undoubtedly take a look at Taco on the left side and if they find him performing better there, they may flip Lawrence, again and see if he can get anything going from RDE. At my first glance, Taco is well suited at LDE given his size and weight. That doesn’t mean Taco doesn’t become the future RDE, so don’t get too riled up.
If you look at the prior year of highly rated DE’s, they generally don’t come out blazing as a rookie. Joey Boss, the third overall selection had 9.5 sacks without OTA work and missing most of training camp. Didn’t expect that, but props to him. DeForest Buckner, was the 7th overall selection last year for DE’s and he grabbed six sacks. Taco, with less experience, than those two, compels me to lower my expectations and look hard at factors such as overall experience. If Taco were able to get between six and 8 sacks, that would be an outstanding season for him based on these factors. Think back to the year 2005 and our 1st round selection, with the 11th pick. That young man, had a “very solid season” and was able to get 8 sacks. Fully expecting that our 2005 selection gets a first ballot entry to the HOF, yes, that’s DeMarcus Ware. We should be realistic and patient with Taco’s development. Frankly, I wasn’t fully on board with grabbing him or any DE in the latter part of the 1st round. Those with true first round grades are gone by 18-20 as a rule. Making it easy to reach for a player with a round two grade. Does anyone remember Shante Carver, our pick at 23 in 1994? This year the team felt if they waited there wouldn’t be any DE’s of significance, available in the second round. Hindsight is 20/20, but there were two of note still on the board, Rivers & Basham, much to the surprise of many. Based on where we took Taco, 28th in the first round and where we took DeMarcus Lawrence, 34th pick in the second round, should we really expect that much more from Taco? Given that Lawrence has produced 9 sacks in 32 games (16 starts), what do you see as a reasonable expectation for Charlton? Those six to eight sacks are looking really good right about now.
My experience tells me that games six through fourteen will be Taco’s strongest one’s and give us an indication of what to expect going forward. By then, he’ll be dialed in on the scheme, his role in situations and the game will begin to slow down for him. That’s when we may get a glimpse of what he can be. His tape from 2016 shows all the traits you’d like to see in a DE. Last year we were able to instantly see the results of our first round draft pick, Ezekiel Elliott. This years first rounder may take a season or two to judge more fairly.
For kicks and giggles, I’d slot him Taco at five to six sacks and be very happy for his first year.