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Cowboys counting on rookie DE Sam Williams to meet pass rush needs

The Dallas Cowboys would like their pass rush to free up Micah Parsons to make plays and they hope defensive end draftee Sam Williams can be a part of that equation.

DALLAS — Plugging electric linebacker Micah Parsons anywhere in the defense is the best part of his game.

However, the magic of Parsons starts to fade when he gets pigeonholed at one position. Although Parsons' 13.0 sacks led the Dallas Cowboys in 2021, and were the basis for his unanimous NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honor, the sacks came from moving Parsons around pre-snap.

Part of the Cowboys' focus in 2022 will be to get Parsons better looks and that starts with trusting other pass rush options.

"It’s about targeting because — trust me — they’re going to know where [Parsons] is at," coach Mike McCarthy told reporters on June 9. "He may be playing the linebacker position, but I would think most offensive protection schemes will declare him as a big, as a rusher, and we’re aware of all of that. We’re just trying to create opportunities that do travel and keep the 4-on-3 and the 3-on-2 at all times. We’re creating two really good 1-on-1s on the backside of that.”

Who can help create more 1-on-1s for Parsons, or at least take the pass-rushing responsibility off his plate? The Cowboys would like for it to be second-round rookie defensive end Sam Williams.

"I feel good about Sam," Cowboys owner, president, and general manager Jerry Jones said on June 16. "He’s a mess with his speed and combination of his size. He can really be an effective pressure player for us."

Williams provided Ole Miss with 12.5 sacks, 15.0 tackles for loss, and four forced fumbles last year as a senior in the SEC. Although the NFL game will take some adjusting for the rookie, Williams should be able to bolster Dallas' pass rush later in the year.

"I like what we’ve done relative to our outside rush, although I know that we’ve had some people concerned because [Randy] Gregory got out of here," Jones said. "But I feel good about where we are.”

Through the Cowboys' offseason program, McCarthy is "excited about [Williams’] upside," and notes that "everybody has been impressed with Sam."

Even though teams weren't permitted to hit each other in organized team activities and mandatory minicamp, the technical aspect of Williams' game has been evident.

"The ability to get the techniques, the alignments, particularly the drill work, get that taught, get the speed of it taught," said McCarthy. "You got to shut it down at the top of your rush, just because of the restrictions [on offseason practice]. I felt and always have and still feel we were able to accomplish a lot, particularly Sam and the whole defensive front."

Do you think second-rounder Sam Williams will make the Cowboys forget about Randy Gregory? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane

    

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