IRVING (AP) — Demarcus Lawrence would have been compared to the franchise sacks leader for the Dallas Cowboys even without sharing a first name.
Now that the Cowboys have a “new Demarcus” to replace DeMarcus Ware after trading up with NFC East rival Washington to get him? Let the conversation begin.
“I’m my own Demarcus,” the Boise State defensive end said Friday night after the Cowboys moved up 13 spots to draft him at No. 34 overall, the second pick in the second round. “I don’t like to try to be nobody else. I’m going to be me, and I’m going to do it well.”
The Cowboys didn’t waste any time addressing the league’s worst defense a day after drafting an offensive lineman in the first round for the third time in four years. The Redskins got the 47th overall pick in the second round and No. 78 overall in the third from Dallas.
Not only did the Cowboys finish last in the NFL in total defense, they signaled an overhaul of their defensive front by releasing Ware as soon as free agency opened in March.
Dallas switched to a four-man defensive front last year and moved Ware and Anthony Spencer from linebacker to defensive end. The Cowboys are bringing Spencer back, but he missed 15 games last season with a left knee injury and probably won’t be ready when training camp starts in July.
The Cowboys added free agents Henry Melton, Jeremy Mincey and Terrell McClain to their front four. Mincey has the most career sacks among current Dallas defensive linemen with 20. That’s 97 fewer than Ware, who is coming off the worst season of his nine-year career and signed with Denver a day after the Cowboys released him.
Lawrence had 20 sacks in two seasons at Boise State, and the Cowboys said he was the last player on their board they thought would be capable of playing right defensive end, which is supposed to be the team’s best pass rusher.
“In the area of putting pressure on the passer, he certainly was a first-round pressure player for us,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said.
Lawrence, who skipped his final season at Boise State to enter the draft, was suspended twice for violating team rules during the 2012 season, including for the Las Vegas Bowl. He said the suspensions were for “childish behaviors,” declining to elaborate.
“It was just me growing up,” Lawrence said. “I had a lot of stuff on my shoulders and I just had to learn how to take a lot of that aggression and bring it to football.”
Ware was also a standout in the community for the Cowboys, and coach Jason Garrett said he had no concern that Lawrence would wilt under expectations on or off the field.
“We try to get our arms around where they are and if we feel comfortable enough with what happened of how we might be able to help a player, we put a player on the board and we embrace them,” Garrett said.
The Cowboys started having conversations with trade partners as soon as they took Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin with the No. 16 pick in the first round on Thursday. The dialogue continued early Friday, and the Cowboys were on the clock as soon as Houston was finished with the first pick of the draft’s second day.
“The biggest thing was we wanted to get up there at the top because we thought that he could go because of his unique quality,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “We didn’t want to take a chance on losing him.”
Dallas was set to enter the final day with eight picks — one each in the fourth and fifth rounds and six in the final round.
The Cowboys’ sixth-round pick went to Kansas City in a trade last year, and their extra picks in the seventh round were a combination of trades and compensation for free agents that signed with other teams.
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