DALLAS — Being underrated as a Dallas Cowboys player is like being the least prickly among an array of hedgehogs. With the national prominence the team receives, along with its outstanding social media presence, it is difficult to truly underrate a Cowboys player.
However, Sam Monson from Pro Football Focus took a look at all 32 NFL rosters and determined that the most underrated Cowboy is defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence.
"Lawrence is widely regarded as an excellent player, but he doesn’t get the full recognition he deserves because his high pressure totals haven't resulted in the usual number of sacks," Monson wrote.
"League-wide, around 15% of pressures convert into sacks, but that number has been just 12.3% for Lawrence over the past three years, and 11.1% in 2021. Generally, there is little in the way of a 'skill' in finishing pressures and getting to the quarterback. Rather, that data point is more heavily driven by variance and other factors. Effectively, Lawrence has been unlucky when it comes to sacks over the past few seasons, but before that, he had back-to-back years with 13 or more sacks. His lowest PFF grade in the past five seasons is 86.2," Monson continued.
Why Lawrence might fall into the ranks of the "underrated" may be a misnomer. How can a two-time Pro Bowl edge rusher who has topped the double-digit sack mark twice be underrated? If anything, with the emergence of linebacker Micah Parsons, who had a banner rookie year, Lawrence may be in the ranks of the forgotten.
The former 2014 second-round pick from Boise State played in just seven games last season, and he hasn't produced more than 10.0 sacks since 2018, his last Pro Bowl year.
Nevertheless defensive coordinator Dan Quinn saw in his first season how much Lawrence was a part of the identity on defense.
"An identity, it doesn’t happen overnight in terms of how a team wants to play," Quinn told reporters on Dec. 20, 2021. "But I would say that D-Law helps that identity a lot because of the violent nature that he plays with, the speed that he plays with.”
Lawrence has faded from the spotlight with new stars on defense coming to the forefront in Parsons and third-year cornerback Trevon Diggs. However, Lawrence's impact on the team is still evident as the 30-year-old maintains a presence in the defensive line room as one of the old warhorses.
Do you think DeMarcus Lawrence will earn more of the recognition that he deserves in 2022? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.