If you want to know how the Cowboys felt about their linebackers as of last week, look no further than their 2021 draft selections.
Not only did the Cowboys use a first round pick on Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, but they then doubled up at the position by snagging LSU’s Jabril Cox.
Cox was a fan favorite prospect during the draft process, largely because of his coverage ability. Parsons’ selection led to mixed reaction, but there’s no denying he is immediately one of the most talented players on the Cowboys’ defense.
Both Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith should be worried, and maybe this will light a fire under both of them. But the draft choices also led to another question: what is the Cowboys’ plan for newly signed Keanu Neal?
Neal had been listed as a safety in Atlanta, but largely can play that nickel “linebacker” role. When he signed with the Cowboys, they made it very clear they saw him as a hybrid linebacker rather than as a traditional safety. And the recent draft selections have not changed that evaluation.
David Helman on Twitter: “Dan Quinn firmly says Keanu Neal will play linebacker here, even after the decisions to draft Micah Parsons & Jabril Cox. / Twitter”
Dan Quinn firmly says Keanu Neal will play linebacker here, even after the decisions to draft Micah Parsons & Jabril Cox.
Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn spoke to the media for the first time on Saturday, and reiterated that Neal will play linebacker. That means their linebacker room consists of Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, Micah Parsons, Jabril Cox, and Keanu Neal.
That’s a lot of talent on paper, and a lot of high level resources used at the position.
Vander Esch and Smith better come prepared for training camp, because their time in Dallas could be running short if they don’t get back to their 2018 forms. Both will be here in 2021, but 2022 may be a different story.