Cowboys’ Pass Rusher Named One Of NFL’s Most Underrated Players

Dallas Cowboys
NFL Analysis Network

You wouldn’t think the Dallas Cowboys should be worried about their pass rush given the presence of Micah Parsons, but it actually may be a bit of a concern heading into 2024.

Why?

Well, the Cowboys lost edge rusher Dorance Armstrong Jr. to free agency, leaving a fairly big hole along the team’s defensive front.

Armstrong may not be a household name, but he had accumulated 21 sacks over the last three seasons for Dallas, including 7.5 in 2023.

The Cowboys amassed a grand total of 46 sacks this past year, so losing Armstrong will definitely hurt, especially considering that the club did not replace him in free agency.

Dallas did select Western Michigan’s Marshawn Kneeland in the second round of the NFL Draft late last month, and while Kneeland has potential, he posted just 12.5 sacks over four collegiate campaigns.

That means someone else on the Cowboys’ roster may have to step up in 2024, and Pro Football Focus may have identified a prime target: Sam Williams.

Williams is definitely not well known, but the University of Mississippi product was selected by Dallas in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

He played in 14 games during his rookie season, registering 22 tackles, four sacks, a forced fumble and three fumble recoveries. Then, in his sophomore year, he appeared in every contest and finished with 26 tackles, 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble.

Those aren’t exactly big numbers, but we have to keep in mind that Williams was doing all of this in a very small, niche role.

With Armstrong gone, Williams’ playing time will almost certainly increase next season, which could put him in line for a breakout campaign in 2024.

Pro Football Focus notes that the 25-year-old generated pressure on 14.1 percent of pass plays when he was on the field in 2023, which ranked 36th among all edge defenders in the NFL.

Defense has been a strength of the Cowboys for quite some time now, as they have been able to replace departed players through the draft and with some shrewd signings. The latter didn’t really occur this offseason, but Williams is still a growing, homegrown talent who may flourish come September.

Dallas won 12 games and captured the NFC East division title this past year, but ultimately fell to the Green Bay Packers in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs.

We’ll see if the Cowboys can finally break through in 2024, and if Williams ends up being a significant part of it.

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