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NFL Draft

2018 NFL Combine: Evaluating 3 Important LB’s Performances

Kevin Brady

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2018 NFL Combine: 3 LBs Who Impressed
Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

There's no secret that the Cowboys have questions to answer in their linebacker corps, and the main way to address those questions would be through the NFL Draft. This year's linebacker class is rather solid, and features some serious day two options.

The 2018 NFL Combine did a good job of separating some of these linebackers, and the results of these three players make them impressive candidates for the Dallas Cowboys.

Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State LB

Vander Esch is a linebacker I struggled with on tape, but his combine performance was undeniable. Vander Esch came in at 6'4 256 pounds, ran an impressive 6.88 3 cone time (85th percentile), and had a 39.5" vertical jump (93rd percentile).

According to MockDraftable, Vander Esch is most similar to a linebacker the Cowboys reportedly considered in the past: Anthony Barr. He also tested like an EDGE rusher, comparing athletically to Tyus Bowser, Khalil Mack, and Connor Barwin.

Leighton Vander Esch would be an outside linebacker with the Cowboys, and could be a target in the second round. You have to wonder, however, if Vander Esch tested himself out of the Cowboys' second round range.

Josey Jewell, Iowa LB

2018 NFL Draft: Scouting Iowa LB Josey Jewell - Slant Sports

With each NFL Draft cycle, scouts everywhere can typically feel good about their evaluations of Iowa Hawkeyes players. The BIG 10 school is known for producing solid, pro-ready talent that NFL teams absolutely need to fill out a roster. Enter Iowa Linebacker Josey Jewell, a three-year starter and captain on this Hawkeyes defense.

Going into the 2018 NFL Combine, I had questions about Josey Jewell athletically. While I knew he was a solid linebacker on tape, and someone who could play inside early on in his career, his combine performance was going to be important to projecting his NFL future.

Jewell was relatively unimpressive at the combine, but he did perform well in drills the Cowboys tend to value in their linebackers. According to MockDraftable Jewell's 3 cone time was in the 93rd percentile among all linebackers and his 60 yard shuttle was in the 79th percentile. Jewell's 20 yard shuttle was also impressive among Cowboys' standards.

Josey Jewell is considered to be the prototypical Big 10 linebacker, who should be a solid and "safe" pick during the upcoming NFL Draft. His performance at the combine does make him an interesting target for the Dallas Cowboys specifically, however.

Fred Warner, BYU LB

2018 NFL Draft: Scouting BYU LB Fred Warner - Slant Sports

Believe it or not, BYU linebacker Fred Warner was the best player at his position at the 2018 Senior Bowl. During his time at BYU, Fred Warner recorded 264 tackles, 6.5 sacks, and 7 interceptions. He played in 49 games for the Cougars during his four collegiate seasons, and was a star on BYU's defense ...

My personal favorite of these three linebackers, BYU's Fred Warner has seen his stock rise over the last few months. Warner was misused a bit at BYU, playing an EDGE role much of the time. He moved to off-ball linebacker full time for the Senior Bowl, and made his presence felt immediately.

At 6'3" 236 pounds, Warner is a "long and strong" linebacker who could be a starting WILL very early on in his career. Warner's 3 cone was in the 89th percentile of all linebackers, and while his short shuttle wasn't all that impressive, his performance in the agility drills certainly turned heads.

Warner is going to benefit greatly from being used in his best role to succeed in the NFL, and could be a realistic option for the Cowboys 81st overall.


Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and am currently a college student. Lets get going.

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14 Comments
  • Reynaldito LaPorte

    I like Jewell the most but how good can we expect him to be in his rookie season at an in impact position not to mention he’s a lil undersized.

    We really need to start thinking about Lee’s replacement though as he has never played a full season and as good as he is the best ability is availability. If we can I say we get Davis from the Jet’s and draft an off ball LB. we’ll see tho.

    Great read BTW!!!

  • Reynaldo Laporte

    I like Jewell the most but how good can we expect him to be in his rookie season at an in impact position not to mention he’s a lil undersized.

    We really need to start thinking about Lee’s replacement though as he has never played a full season and as good as he is the best ability is availability. If we can I say we get Davis from the Jet’s and draft an off ball LB. we’ll see tho.

    Great read BTW!!!

  • reynaldolaporte

    I like Jewell the most but how good can we expect him to be in his rookie season at an in impact position not to mention he’s a lil undersized.

    We really need to start thinking about Lee’s replacement though as he has never played a full season and as good as he is the best ability is availability. If we can I say we get Davis from the Jet’s and draft an off ball LB. we’ll see tho.

    Great read BTW!!!

  • Hector Espindola

    Great insight. Personally, my choise was Vander Esch before reading your analysis. I think LB would be addressed after DL, OL and WR, so that gives a chance at picks 16 and 37 of round 4, meaning that no one of the LB analized would be an every down player; that´s why Hitch needs to stay with the team.

    • Reynaldo Laporte

      As much as I like Hitch he’s not coming back and to be honest I would like an upgrade at the position. Davis would be that upgrade. We’ll see tho

      • Hector Espindola

        I´m all aboard with an upgrade at the position!

        • Reynaldo Laporte

          Think about how good our D would be with a serious 1 tech and Demario Davis playing MLB.

          We have our core guys from last year thst are still developing I’m excited to see where we can take it.

          • Hector Espindola

            You are totally right, Vita Vea must be that man (he is also an every down player), but might be gone when Dallas hits the clock. Moreover, I don’t see FO and Marinelli viewing any other 1 tech as an every down player to use on their two first pics. Seems then that FO would go for LG and till day 3 find their rotation guys (I hate that philosophy).

          • Reynaldo Laporte

            Don’t get me wrong I like BPA according to our needs, but when will we address a glaring issue that’s plagued us for years and that’s DT.

            I want to draft a LG too but if we need a premier pick all across our offensive line, then that says a lot about our coaching staff and FO.

          • Hector Espindola

            That last statement of yours on coaching brilliantly sumps it up. I think Da’Ron Payne is the next answer to DT issuesi if VV is gone. Hope FO shares this point of view.

          • Reynaldo Laporte

            Payne is Good too and plays both positions, but what does Reynaldito know ‘eh lol.

            They need to do right by our team and invest in defense. As good as our offense was the last two times we were in the playoffs our defense was exposed. Now is the time to address that.

          • EverybodyTalks

            Agreed. Our Defense was exposed. If Philly can sign Bennett and be 11 million over the cap, then the Cowboys still need to resign Hitchens. Anthony is much more valuable than any rookie in the draft or FA. I think Jewell will fall to the 3rd rd, based on his numbers in the combine. To be safe, I believe we should grab him in the 2nd. Stephen Jones stated that the Cowboys would not go after a DT1, unless that player had DT3 tendencies. That sounds like DaRon and Vita and therefore both have a shot in the 1st rd, if available at #19. So, imagine we have Hitch, with newbies DaRon and Jewell. Very possible.

          • Reynaldo Laporte

            I love Hitchens, but I feel as though we can upgrade the position. Not to mention his coach is in Indy know who just so happen to have way more cap room than we do.

            I dream of the day when our D will again be respectable. People get lost in the glamor and glitz of our last two season starts and don’t realize that the defense was only good in 2016 because of our ball control and and last year we had a semi good pass rush.

            Our defense is still middle of the pack and I hate the fact that our DC seems to want run of the mill guys when he always had studs on his squad

          • Hector Espindola

            You are totally right, Vita Vea must be that man (he is also an every down player), but might be gone when Dallas hits the clock. Moreover, I don’t see FO and Marinelli viewing any other 1 tech as an every down player to use on their two first pics. Seems then that FO would go for LG and till day 3 find their rotation guys for DL (I hate that philosophy).

NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Class: How Many Will Be Starters In 2018?

Kevin Brady

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2018 NFL Combine: 3 LBs Who Impressed
Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys have been showered with praise by most national NFL media outlets for their 2018 NFL Draft class. NFL.com graded the Cowboys as having the 2nd best class in the league, and most other analysts have agreed that the team had a strong showing.

But now, of course, it's time to see what these new players will actually do on the field. Some are hoping the team found 3-5 new starters for the 2018 roster, but history would suggest that is pretty rare.

Dallas' 2016 draft class has been lauded as one of the best in the last decade, especially considering they look to have found their franchise quarterback in round four. That strong class only features four full-time starters heading into 2018, but we have to wonder if that's the outlier and not the norm.

Still, as we look back and examine this 2018 draft class it really appears they have found three day one starters in the first three rounds.

First round pick Leighton Vander Esch is expected to be the starting MIKE linebacker this season, with former second round selection Jaylon Smith moving to SAM. Vander Esch wasn't my favorite option at 19, but he is certainly starter-worthy in this Cowboys LB corps.

On day two the Cowboys added OL Connor Williams and WR Michael Gallup, two of my personal favorite picks of their entire class. Williams should be the starting LG week 1 of the season, and Michael Gallup may overtake Allen Hurns as the most productive WR on the roster by year's end.

Cowboys Land Small School WR In Latest PFF Mock Draft

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 1: DUPLICATE***Colorado State Rams wide receiver Michael Gallup (4) picks up a few yards after catch as Colorado Buffaloes defensive back Isaiah Oliver (26) comes in for the tackle during the first quarter on September 1, 2017 in Denver, Colorado at Sports Authority Field. (Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post)

What about the rest of the class?

Dorance Armstrong will probably have too much competition to start at defensive end this season, but he should be an interesting rotational pass rusher. TE Dalton Schultz has the chance to surprise some people, but overtaking Geoff Swaim as the "starter" would be unexpected.

After that, the player with the best chance to make the team and contribute early on might be Boise State WR Cedrick Wilson. Wilson was a late day-two, early day-three pick to me so snagging him in the sixth round should provide incredible value to this roster. That wide out room is getting very crowded, though, so Wilson has his work cut out for him heading into camp.

How many of the Cowboys' 2018 draft picks will be starters in 2018? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.


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NFL Draft

Did the Dallas Cowboys Find 4 Starters in the 2018 NFL Draft?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Did the Dallas Cowboys Find 4 Starters in the 2018 NFL Draft?

One of the many winners of the 2018 NFL Draft were, without a doubt, the Dallas Cowboys. Not only did they addressed some of the team's most pressing needs, but they managed to draft very talented, capable players beyond the first round.

Cowboys Nation had to feel better about the rookie class the front office walked away with, specially after the second day of the Draft. Just like last year, they managed to find steals in the second and third rounds. In 2017, they did so with Cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis. Now, they stayed put at their original picks and walked away with OL Connor Williams and WR Michael Gallup.

But first things first. In the eyes of many, Leighton Vander Esch wasn't worth the 19th overall pick. While I do agree that Vander Esch was a questionable selection, the Cowboys fixed arguably their most concerning position of all. As much as it pains to admit it, Sean Lee has yet to play an entire NFL season and Jaylon Smith was pretty much the only other capable starter on the roster.

Cowboys en Español: Dallas Selecciona a Vander Esch, ¿Quién Sigue?

Although Vander Esch needs to develop a ton before reaching his full potential. he's a week 1 starter and an early contributor for this defense. Whether it felt like a "reach" or not, the Cowboys took a starter in the Boise State linebacker.

Later, the Cowboys managed to add an arguably first-round talent with pick #50 to plug-and-play along the offensive line. Texas OL Connor Williams was also seen as a tackle prospect, but he'll likely start at guard for Dallas as a rookie.

Since Ron Leary left for Denver, the left guard spot hasn't been as stable. Jonathan Cooper did a decent job filling that spot, but with Williams taking his place, the Cowboys dominance in the trenches will finally return. Playing next to All-Pros Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick, Connor Williams might become the best rookie in this class for the Cowboys.

One can't simply say the team found a "replacement" for Dez Bryant since he's a special player and with a very specific skill set, but Michael Gallup from Colorado State has the potential to become the team's WR1 pretty soon.

In the team's effort to build a Dak-friendly offense, Gallup is a crafty and smooth route-runner who has what it takes to play in any spot of the offense. His skill-set will allow him to play anywhere on the field and become Dak's favorite target in a year in which Jason Witten and Dez Bryant will no longer be lining up on his squad.

Taken in the first three rounds, Vander Esch, Williams and Gallup will be unquestionable starters. The question, however, is who else could become a starter for the Cowboys? Who could line up and start in week 1?

Dallas Cowboys Add Depth on Day 3, Building Future with Young Starters 1

Even though it definitely isn't as certain as the other three rookies, I'm betting on Dalton Schultz to be a more important starter than we imagine. Listen, maybe it's not an ideal scenario to have the TE from Stanford start in week 1, but it could be necessary.

The Rico Gathers Adventure might just be over before it starts and Geoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin may not be anything special. In college, Schultz was pretty good at run blocking. In the Cowboys' offense, led by one of the best running backs in the league, Ezekiel Elliott, Schultz may be able to find success earlier than expected.

Besides, he has what it takes to catch passes in the NFL and although he certainly won't be the flashiest, he could be enough to give Dak Prescott a reliable tight end.

Dalton Schultz could be the surprise of this Draft for Dallas. He'll probably become a starter at some point in the season and for a fourth-round pick, that's a very good thing to say.

For a front office that's constantly bashed by Cowboys Nation, their job at this year's NFL Draft was a pretty good one. Now it's just a matter of time to find out which picks were as good as we originally thought.

Tell me what you think about "Did the Dallas Cowboys Find 4 Starters in the 2018 NFL Draft?" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!


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NFL Draft

Why Cowboys Nation Should Feel Better About Leighton Vander Esch

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Why Cowboys Nation Should Feel Better About Leighton Vander Esch
Loren Orr / Getty Images

A week ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell walked out to the stage at AT&T Stadium to announce the Dallas Cowboys first pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. For the second consecutive year, a large portion of Cowboys Nation was not pretty happy about the player America's Team had drafted in the first day of the Draft.

Boise State's Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch has become one of the main debates among Cowboys fans right now and will continue to be one at least until the season starts. Some are fine with the decision the front office made and some simply don't view Vander Esch as a first round talent.

Naturally, taking Leighton in the first round has been widely compared to the team's last first round pick: Taco Charlton.

Both of these selections resulted in fans all around the world complaining and criticizing the selections since they both seemed like a reach, arguing that they could've gotten better players at other positions.

But fans shouldn't be so quick to compare the Charlton and Vander Esch selections, because they really aren't that similar. Sure, most of the media and Draft fans didn't consider any of these players worthy of a first round pick, but that doesn't mean both players were ranked similarly in the Cowboys' draft board.

Defensive End Taco Charlton, despite showing some very promising flashes towards the end of the year, wasn't able to become a starter at any point during his rookie season. Hopefully he develops into one next season. But when you're talking about first-round picks, being a solid starter at the end of the season at the latest is a very usual expectation.

Possibly what made the Taco pick hurt even more, is the fact that the front office didn't even consider him a first-round talent. Although he was drafted to wear the Star with the 28th overall pick, he wasn't their guy.

Drew Davison on Twitter

The #Cowboys had three first-round grades on DEs, but Taco Charlton wasn't one of them.

With Leighton Vander Esch, the same can't be said. The Cowboys knew he was their guy and that they were going to take him, regardless of the situation. For many weeks we wondered about just every scenario the team might face when they were on the clock.

What if DE Harold Landry is available? What if Calvin Ridley is still on the board? What if Derwin James slides, would they trade up?

For the front office, there was quite a lot of talent to choose from at 19 (not to mention James did slide out of the top 15), but they still took Leighton Vander Esch, even with Landry and Ridley on the board. We might disagree with the pick. We might not think the Boise State's product should've been taken so early. That's completely fine.

But Cowboys Nation should be happy knowing that this was the guy they wanted all along. Maybe if Derwin James hadn't been drafted by the Los Angeles Chargers with the 17th pick, Dallas would have still taken Vander Esch.

 "If the Cowboys traded up a few spots in the first round, I believe it would have been to ensure they got Vander Esch, not get James or Edmunds." Dane Brugler on the Cowboys' approach to the Draft. 

For now, it's time to root for the Dallas Cowboys' new rookie. Vander Esch will provide a special factor to this defense and has the potential to become a very good starter down the road. Playing side by side with Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith will certainly help his development and turn him into an impact player soon.

At the end of the day, it takes years to properly evaluate how a draft pick turned out in the NFL. There are first round players who turn out to be complete busts just like there are sixth or seventh round players that go on to become superstars in the league.

The Dallas Cowboys did a hell of a job addressing their needs throughout the Draft this year and there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about this year's draft picks. Leighton Vander Esch is without a doubt, one of them.

Tell me what you think about "Why Cowboys Nation Should Feel Better About Leighton Vander Esch" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!


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