Much of what the Dallas Cowboys do at the linebacker position this offseason will be determined by their confidence in Jaylon Smith, which has not wavered since drafting him in the second round in 2016 – making his NFL debut this season. With Anthony Hitchens set to hit free agency and Sean Lee not getting any younger though, the Cowboys could use an injection of youth at LB.
The 2017 Draft marked the first time the Cowboys did not select a linebacker since 2004 (!), making it that much more of a priority this offseason. Should they target a mid-round option with the ability to step in and contribute right away, Iowa’s Josey Jewell makes a ton of sense.
“Iowa LB Josey Jewell is an incredibly instinctive player, reacting to plays with a rare mix of balance, burst, and physicality against the run.”
This film clip and quote comes from my full scouting report on Josey Jewell at Slant Sports. Playing primarily the MIKE position at Iowa, Jewell will fit best in the NFL at either WILL or SAM – with the versatility to provide depth at both.
With these two LB spots being ones of need for the Cowboys, Jewell would add a enforcing presence to the second level of this defense, the likes of which have been missing in Dallas for some time.
A square player with adequate power in his hands and above average movement ability, Jewell is a magnet for the football against the run.
“…Josey Jewell plays with the stopping power that NFL scouts absolutely love out of any front seven players. Asked to play a lot of MIKE linebacker at Iowa, Jewell will be a physical presence for any defense to add…”
Jewell is not only comfortable around the line of scrimmage as a sure tackler, flashing the ability to shoot gaps with great burst and technique. Jewell may be far from a “pass rusher”, but he does attack blockers similarly, coming downhill to disengage violently.
“Jewell plays with textbook technique in pass coverage as well, playing light on his feet with the balance to hang with shifty receivers throughout the down.”
Jewell’s vertical movement as a WILL linebacker also make him an ideal fit for the Cowboys, as he could develop quickly into a starter on Nickel packages – requiring him to be one of just two LBs on the field.
NFL.com scout Lance Zierlein actually compared Josey Jewell to Sean Lee in his own scouting report. Outplaying his own second round draft status, I believe Jewell has a chance to do the same as a valuable third round grade on my 2018 NFL Draft Board.
“While Josey Jewell’s Iowa tape left no questions about his ability to move backwards with ease and attack forward, his lateral movement leaves some concerns.”
It was ultimately Jewell’s limitations as a rangy defender that pushed him down into the third round for me, which is an ideal spot for the Dallas Cowboys to be targeting a linebacker in this 2018 Draft. Jewell’s floor would make him a noticeable contributor to the Cowboys’ defense in year one, a top 100 prospect that should be an NFL starter in the near future.