The Dallas Cowboys have been busy buffering their defense this offseason, particularly on the interior of the defensive line. Six-time Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy signed a three-year deal to add more size and experience at the 3-tech. Joining him would be his former Carolina Panther teammate and two-time Pro Bowler Dontari Poe who will use his nearly 350-pound frame to be the anchor at the 1-tech.
This leads many to believe the Cowboys will either try to add one of the top-three receivers (CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs) or a premium defensive back prospect (Xavier McKinney, CJ Henderson, Trevon Diggs) in the first round. However, in recent mock drafts LSU edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson has been a popular choice for the Cowboys at 17.
The Houston, Texas native made a splash instantly in his freshman season with 27 tackles (4.5 tackles for loss), two sacks, and two passes defended as well as being named to the 2017 SEC All-Freshman Team. He started off fast in 2018 with five tackles and a sack vs Miami, but he suffered a torn ACL and missed the remainder of the season. In 2019, Chaisson put his name at the top of the list for collegiate pass rushers as he registered 60 tackles (13.5 tackles for loss), 6.5 sacks, two passes defended, and a forced fumble. He would be named first-team All-SEC.
What was encouraging to see in 2019 was how he performed in the biggest games. In a win vs Alabama, he recorded 10 tackles including 3.5 tackles for loss. In the SEC Championship Game vs Georgia, he produced four tackles and a sack. Three weeks later in the Peach Bowl (National Semifinal) vs Oklahoma, he racked up six tackles and two sacks and was named Defensive MVP.
Watch “Sack Guru” 🐯 || LSU LB K’Lavon Chaisson Highlights ᴴᴰ” on YouTube
Chaisson has unbelievable speed and bend coming off the edge which makes him a nightmare for offensive tackles. Excellent at stunting to the inside and applying pressure from the interior. Sets the edge well and forces run plays back inside. Very good lateral speed and possesses elite inside counter move. His versatility and athleticism make him a fit in a 4-3 as an edge rusher or a 3-4 as an outside linebacker.
One important detail about Chaisson is his jersey number. In 2003, LSU began a tradition when quarterback Matt Mauck led them to the National Championship wearing the number 18. He would then pass the number down to running back Jacob Hester who helped the program win the 2007 National Championship. Ever since a player is selected each season by the coaching staff to wear it as a symbol of success on and off the field and having a selfless attitude. In 2019, Chaisson was given this honor, and ironically, he helped LSU defeat Clemson to win the 2019 National Championship.
If selected, Chaisson could potentially come in and be the Cowboys starting right defensive end opposite All-Pro DeMarcus Lawrence with solid depth behind him (Randy Gregory, Aldon Smith, Tyrone Crawford). Also, with his ability to make plays in space, he could rotate in at linebacker and give relief to Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, and Sean Lee.
One concern with Chaisson might be injuries. In addition to the ACL injury that ended his 2018 season, he missed two games in 2019 with an ankle issue.
Scouting report according to NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein
“Possessing an impressive diversity of moldable pass-rushing ingredients and moves, Chaisson has begun putting the recipe together to become a game-altering pass rusher. While some long-limbed rushers lack the bend and leverage to maximize their length, his fluidity and agility allow him to dip, corner, change direction and close in tight quarters or with extended range. He’s not a physical run defender and might be a liability early in his career against power. Chaisson’s stock has gained momentum with his surging performance matching the elite athletic qualities. It adds up to an increasingly confident projection as an impact pass-rusher with Pro-Bowl potential.”
The Cowboys may decide to add a receiver or defensive back in the first round, but if they want to solidify their pass rush, Chaisson should be a top target at pick 17.
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