Could Moving To Linebacker Save JJ Wilcox’s Job With The Cowboys?

    By now you know the news, has been suspended 10 games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. And now a linebacker group which has the talented names of Rolando McClain, , and will be lucky if they even get to see one of these players in action for the majority of this season.

    It's starting to look rough for the linebackers, and the will certainly be no better.

    The back end of the Cowboys , while not exactly elite, is possibly the strongest unit on this side of the ball right now. is coming off of an excellent rookie year and is expected to make a big jump in a year two; is returning from his season-ending knee , and the other corners have shown they can be solid contributors to the defense.

    Surprisingly, the is where the Cowboys have their most stability defensively, and this stability may be what pushes former pick JJ Wilcox out the door.

    There doesn't seem to be a spot for Wilcox in the equation anymore. Jones is going to be the , and has certainly proven to be the better option at . just signed a four year deal and isn't going anywhere, and the team drafted in the this season.

    Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys: 6 Possible Surprise Roster Cuts
    (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

    At best, JJ Wilcox will be Jones' backup and will see time on . At worst, his time in Dallas might be over. A former third round pick who could never put it together to be what the Cowboys had envisioned when they drafted him.

    But what if the answer to all of JJ Wilcox's uncertainty was to switch positions and move down in the box full time?

    We have always considered Wilcox an “in the box safety,” a guy who is much better when he is coming downhill to make tackles than he is when playing a true safety role. Knowing this, and now knowing that linebacker depth may be in question for much of 2016, maybe the switch would be beneficial to both JJ Wilcox and the team.

    “But JJ Wilcox is too small to play linebacker.”

    You're right, he would be undersized as a linebacker, even if he isn't playing the MIKE. Listed at 6'0″ and 212 pounds, it would be quite the challenge for Wilcox to make his living in the front seven.

    But 212 pounds isn't a final number, he could possibly add weight and add mass in time for the regular season. And, most importantly, it has been done before.

    Former Alabama safety Mark Barron is just one of the many success stories involving safeties moving down to play linebacker. The ' pick saw little success as an NFL safety and was traded to the Rams early in his career. After Rams starting weak-side linebacker Alec Ogletree went down with a season ending injury, Barron stepped up as a linebacker and never looked back.

    It's important to note that while he is 2 inches taller than Wilcox, Barron entered the league at just 213 pounds. Now, he plays at 220 pounds, so some weight gain is certainly possible.

    Deone Bucannon of the also made a similar move from safety to linebacker, and is doing just fine.

    Wilcox has shown an inability to take proper tackling angles before, and a switch to linebacker may just highlight this problem

    Cowboys Headlines - A Long Road Ahead For JJ WilcoxOnce again, you're right. JJ Wilcox's pursuit angles have been horrid at times. But playing linebacker is a totally different animal than playing free safety.

    's scheme often calls for one-gap responsibilities for the linebackers. This would keep Wilcox's job more simple than it has ever been, and would help him to get downhill and make plays. Both the angles and assignments he would have to take would be different.

    No, moving JJ Wilcox to linebacker isn't an ideal situation, but I do feel like it could be beneficial to both parties. Wilcox has shown that he is much better at getting downhill and playing the run than he is in coverage, so why not try to utilize his strengths and hide his weaknesses a bit?

    The are that even if it is tried, the move for JJ Wilcox wouldn't work too well, but why not give him the shot to possibly save his roster spot for 2016 and beyond?

    This could be the last-ditch effort which saves JJ Wilcox's NFL future.

    Kevin Brady
    Kevin Brady
    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 have been with ITS since 2016.


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    great article I am also huge cowboy fan from northeast (new jersey) Follower since ice bowl