Just two seasons ago, the Dallas Cowboys entire defense would seem to fall apart when Sean Lee faced an injury. Without Lee, the entire unit looked lost, and Dallas struggled to stop anyone on key downs.
Or any downs for that matter.
The emergence of Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith in 2018 has changed everything for Dallas, though, and now the Cowboys look to have one of the best linebacker groups in the NFL. No longer is the defense lost without Lee. In fact, at the end of 2018, the defense often looked worse when Lee would come in for Vander Esch.
It’s impossible to say enough good things about the combination of Smith and Vander Esch, as these two are legitimately at the top of their positions in all of football. What makes their marriage so perfect, though, is their size and athletic ability. Both can be excellent coverage linebackers because of how athletic they are, and yet they are still sure tacklers and big hitters against the run.
A group is more than just two players, however. And the depth behind these two young studs is nothing to scoff at either.
Sean Lee has been a staple of the Cowboys defense for years. And even in a more advanced aged these days, he is still a heck of a third linebacker to be able to deploy.
Joe Thomas is another athletic, talented coverage linebacker who offers plus-play off the bench and Special Teams ability. Justin March-Lillard has had an excellent camp so far as well, and Chris Covington and Luke Gifford have earned praise from the coaching staff this Summer due to their play.
The Cowboys linebackers are a physical, athletic group that is tailor-made for the modern NFL. They can cover, play sideline to sideline, and fill their run fits between the tackles with ferocity as well.
Not only are the Cowboys linebackers the best group on this team, they could end up being considered as the best position group in the entire NFL by the end of this season.