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2021 Draft Looms Large for Cowboys LBs Luke Gifford & Francis Bernard

The Dallas Cowboys are very light at linebacker heading into next week's . Right now, prospects Luke Gifford and Francis Bernard would probably make the 2021 roster based on current talent. But could next week's big event land a major blow to their job security?

Gifford and Bernard have been two of the hot names coming out of the 2019 and 2020 training camps, respectively. But with only eight total snaps between them on last year's , neither is going into this with any real momentum.

Their current status on the roster is based solely on attrition from other depth players. remains unsigned in and is still contemplating . signed with the last month, and Justin March also remains on the open market.

Even with coming from Atlanta and converting to linebacker, Dallas still has just him, , and as proven commodities at the position. Bernard and Gifford would be the top reserves right now by default, not by merit.

The Cowboys are expected to focus on their defense with their 10 picks in next week's draft. Between concerns about Smith and Vander Esch's long-term value and the current depth issues, it's easy to see Dallas spending multiple picks at linebacker.

Any fresh faces, and especially drafted players, could easily walk in and bump undrafted hopefuls like Bernard and Gifford down the and off the roster.

Cowboys LBs Luke Gifford & Francis Bernard

There was excitement about Luke Gifford following a big performance in Dallas' 2019 opener against the 49ers. But after looking like a young Sean Lee in that game, Gifford next reminded us of Lee with multiple injuries in 2019 and only six games played.

In 2020, Gifford failed to earn more than one snap on defense and only appeared on 35% of plays. He also landed a two-game for PED use toward the end of the season.

Bernard didn't get to play preseason games in 2020 thanks to but was a standout performer in the modified . While he too was rarely seen on defense, he had a more meaningful share on special teams at 48% of the snaps.

Both players should benefit from 's arrival and a move back to more 4-3 looks on defense. But if Quinn has a big voice during the draft and is able to handpick some new talent a linebacker, carryovers like Bernard and Gifford will be major underdogs to make the team in 2021.

For now, without rookie additions or any other moves, Francis Bernard and Luke Gifford will probably be Cowboys in 2021. But with high probability of multiple draft picks going to linebacker, not to mention a new wave of undrafted talent, neither Bernard or Gifford should feel a shred of comfort about their positions.

Jess Haynie

Written by Jess Haynie

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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Sam

Still irritated that we didn’t get to see those guys get a few snaps. Not like it would have been possible to be any worse at LB. Another missed opportunity by the coaching staff.

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