The talk of the Dallas Cowboys defense this offseason has been mostly about first round pick Taco Charlton, the return of Jaylon Smith, the revamped secondary, or the emergence of second year player Charles Tapper. One player who is quietly flying under the radar is former fourth round pick out of Minnesota, Damien Wilson.
Damien Wilson was the 127th overall pick in the 2015 draft by the Dallas Cowboys. Wilson was selected as insurance in 2015 adding yet another linebacker to the already crowded linebacker group.
Wilson had plenty of competition coming onto the team with veterans Will Smith, Kyle Wilber, Dekoda Watson, Jasper Brinkley, and Cameron Lawrence also on the roster. Damien Wilson didn't shy away from the competition, instead he showed up in training camp and the preseason games and earned his star.
His first year in the league, Damien Wilson didn't necessarily set the world on fire. He finished the season with 10 total tackles, most of which coming on special teams. Most fans will recall the overtime loss to the New Orleans Saints, in which he was a late substitution and allowed C.J. Spiller to beat him and win the game for the Saints on a blown coverage. While that wasn't one of his finer moments, Wilson was one of the better players on the Cowboys defense in the 2016 season.
After a slow start to the season, missing most of the offseason due to an eye injury, Damien Wilson came back better than ever.
Wilson finished 2016 with 27 total tackles and 0.5 sack. While serving as a primary role player in 2016 filling in for Sean Lee, Anthony Hitchens, and splitting time with Justin Durant, Wilson was fantastic against the run and was even better in pass coverage in 2016.
On Friday, ProFootballFocus.com put out a ranking of lowest quarterback rating allowed when in coverage by a linebacker, Damien Wilson was ranked third best on that list right behind Jordan Hicks, and Jamie Collins.
Elite coverage linebacker.
There are two things I really like about Damien Wilson.
First, is just that, his coverage ability. One of the hardest players to find in the NFL is a linebacker that can cover and play the run, and Damien Wilson can do both. As PFF points out, Wilson allowed a 67.5 QBR when in coverage; that is an extremely good percentage and a trait that the Cowboys' linebackers seem to lack (excluding Sean Lee).
Second, is his ability to flow sideline to sideline and work down the line without getting washed out of the play. Far too often linebackers will get washed out of a play by a tight end, pulling offensive linemen, or wide receivers; but Wilson has very good awareness of how to shed blocks, keep his feet moving and stop the ball carrier in his tracks.
Damien Wilson has only started six games in his two years with the Cowboys, but that is mainly due to the depth the Cowboys have had at the position.
This year, that isn't the case.
The Cowboys didn't draft a linebacker with any of their nine draft picks for the first time since 2004.
Coincidence? I think not.
With Sean Lee, Anthony Hitchens, and Jaylon Smith (pending health) as the penciled in starters don't be surprised to see Damien Wilson get himself in the conversation as an opening day starter at MIKE linebacker or SAM linebacker.
Damien Wilson has been an excellent role player for the Cowboys, in an expanded role could we be looking at the chance at his first Pro-Bowl? I wouldn't be surprised one bit.
Cowboys Trade for FB Jamize Olawale from Raiders
Less than a week after the Cowboys lost fullback Keith Smith to the Raiders in free agency, the two teams have worked out a trade to send FB Jamize Olawale from Oakland to Dallas.
Fullback trade! The #Raiders are sending FB Jamize Olawale to the #Cowboys, sources say. Dallas has its fullback, one who was with Oakland since 2012.
To facilitate the trade, the Cowboys will send their fifth-round pick (173rd overall) to the Raiders for their sixth-round pick (192nd), moving back just 19 spots.
In return, Dallas not only brings in a veteran replacement at FB but a player they already know.
Jamize Olawale was an undrafted rookie free agent of the Cowboys in 2012. Despite a strong showing in that preseason, Dallas did not have room for him on the roster. He was on the team's practice squad until December, when Oakland poached him.
Since then, Olawale has been a regular roleplayer in the Raiders' offense. He's missed just six games since 2013.
Jamize brings more offensive firepower to the FB position than Keith Smith had. He's scored at least one touchdown in each of the last three seasons. He can be effective both running and receiving.
Through the trade, Dallas picks up the final year of Olawale's current contract. It calls for a $1.5 million base salary in 2018.
Dallas Cowboys to Re-Sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur for 2018
Continuity is the key to good special teams play in the NFL. Already losing long-time Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia to the Raiders - who promptly snatched ST aces Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber in free agency - the Dallas Cowboys have announced their intentions to re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur for the 2018 season.
Returning on a one-year deal, the fan favorite Ladouceur will be back to do what he does best in cleanly executing almost every special teams snap for Chris Jones or Dan Bailey to handle.
Long snapper L.P. Ladouceur will re-sign with the Cowboys on Monday, according to sources, on a one-year deal. He will be in his 14th season with the franchise. Only Jason Witten, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Bill Bates and Mark Tuinei will have more years of... https://t.co/yTQbMYyrIv
While Jones has improved as the Cowboys' punter with each passing season, Kicker Dan Bailey actually enters 2018 as another question mark on this unit. With the general belief around the team being that Bailey will be just fine moving forward, the Cowboys will no longer have to worry about who handles long snaps next year either.
L.P. Ladouceur is back in the silver and blue, and in this moment, everything can be alright with the world.
Report: Raiders Sign Former Cowboys LB Kyle Wilber
A Free Agency period filled with departures continued for the Dallas Cowboys today, as the Oakland Raiders have reportedly signed the now-former Cowboys LB Kyle Wilber.
The Raiders have signed LB Kyle Wilber: https://t.co/TaC6cqjval
Wilber has been with the Cowboys since 2012, and has played in all 16 games four of the past five seasons. Most of his time has come on special teams, but he did provide solid linebacker depth for the Cowboys since joining the team.
Dallas has now lost both Wilber and Anthony Hitchens, depleting their linebacker depth even further over the last couple weeks.
The Raiders have now signed two key special teams contributors for the Cowboys in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber this offseason. Hopefully Dallas can replace these types of "replacement level" players throughout the rest of the offseason, especially during the NFL Draft.
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