DeMarcus “Tank” Lawrence (born April 28, 1992)
After waiving franchise career sack leader DeMarcus Ware in a salary cap move and having previously lost starters Jason Hatcher and Jay Ratliff, the Dallas Cowboys looked to improve the talent of their defensive line in the 2014 NFL Draft. The team traded up with the Washington Redskins moving to the 34th position, in exchange for a second (#47-Trent Murphy) and a third round (#78-Spencer Long) draft choices, in order to select Lawrence in the second round. After fracturing his right foot in training camp, he started the year on the injured reserve list and did not appear in a game until week 9 against the Arizona Cardinals. The lost time affected his play and with little impact (11 tackles with no sacks), he could not earn the starter right defensive end job ahead of Jeremy Mincey.
He would play a significant role in the wild card playoff game against the Detroit Lions on January 4, 2015, with the Cowboys leading 24-20 and just over 2 minutes remaining in the game, quarterback Matthew Stafford fumbled deep in Detroit’s territory. Rather than falling on the ball to down it and secured the game-clinching turnover, Lawrence attempted to pick it up and score, which resulted in fumbling the ball back to the Lions. He would redeem himself on the ensuing drive, on 4th and 3 with a minute left and the Lions threatening to win the game from the Cowboys 42-yard line, he sacked Stafford causing a fumble and recovering it all in one play, sealing the victory. He had a strong showing in the playoffs with two sacks, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.
In 2015, although defensive end Greg Hardy was the big off season acquisition done by the Cowboys, Lawrence would end up having a bigger impact from his left defensive end position. He entered the season with an improved physical presence and would develop his edge rusher skills with every passing week. He finished the season with a streak of seven games with at least a sack, registering a total of 8 (led the team), 31 quarterback pressures (second on the team) and 56 tackles. His best games came against the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins and the New York Jets. In January 2016, he had back surgery, which turned out to be more serious than originally expected.
Lawrence is again active on the Cowboys defensive line and quickly getting back into his old form alongside his former Boise State Bronco team mate, Tyrone Crawford.