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Role Call: Can't Argue With Tafua's Production – Senior Writer
(Editor’s Note: As part of the preparation for training camp, this series will introduce 25 key players who are new to the Cowboys’ roster, rookies and veterans alike. The series continues today with rookie defensive end Mika Tafua.)
How He Got Here: The Cowboys signed Tafua in May as an undrafted free agent out of Utah. Tafua (6-3, 250) didn’t hear his name called on draft weekend, but it wasn’t for lack of success in college. The three-time All-Pac-12 selection led the conference in sacks (9.5) last year as the Morris Trophy recipient, and he put up these numbers in 44 games over four seasons: 133 tackles, 32 tackles for loss (at the time, the second-highest career total among all active Pac-12 defensive linemen), 17.5 sacks, 10 pressures, nine pass breakups, five fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles.
What’s Next: There’s a ton of competition for a roster spot, much less a rotation spot, at defensive end. The depth chart starts with two-time Pro Bowler DeMarcus Lawrence and includes free agent signing Dante Fowler Jr., Dorance Armstrong, Tarell Basham, 2021 third-round draft pick Chauncey Golston and 2022 second-round pick Sam Williams. Former Cowboys pass rusher Bradlee Anae – also a Utah alumnus – faced the same challenge a couple years ago. Like Anae, Tafua isn’t the biggest or strongest pass rusher, but it’s hard to argue with his approach or production. He’ll have a chance to stick around on the practice squad if not the 53-man roster.
Bet You Didn’t Know: The Utah program continues to develop terrific defensive linemen. Tafua became the fourth Utah defensive lineman selected by an NFL team in the past three drafts, along with Anae, Leki Fotu and John Penisini.
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