With the 193rd overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys doubled up on linebackers by selecting Indiana's Chris Covington. While Leighton Vander Esch surely expects to be the most noticeable rookie defender in Dallas, Covington is here to serve a role as well – likely on special teams where the Cowboys lost Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber.
In years past, this need for reliable special teams contributors would likely give Rich Bisaccia more power in the Cowboys war room to replenish his unit. With Bisaccia (along with Smith and Wilber) in Oakland now, it will be up to new Special Teams Coordinator Keith O'Quinn to get the most out of Covington.
Here is my full scouting report on Cowboys Linebacker Chris Covington.
Linebacker Chris Covington: Strengths
A decent athlete with adequate size to play at the next level, Chris Covington is an instinctive linebacker that will work under blockers to disrupt plays. When sticking his foot in the ground and firing forward, Covington is a downhill missile that will finish against any ball carrier he can get his hands on.
It is these traits that will primarily help Covington play in space on special teams, consistently playing with good leverage and his head up. Covington's hand strength is his standout trait.
Covington is capable of lining up at multiple positions on defense, holding his own as an extra defender on the edge or flipping his hips to cover as a MIKE. If things go as planned for the Cowboys defense, there won't be much of a need for Chris Covington as a starting linebacker, but his speed and reaction ability gives the Cowboys yet another match up piece.
Linebacker Chris Covington: Weaknesses
Chris Covington's biggest weakness is his lack of ability to position himself on defense. Covington lacks the range to chase plays on the outside, along with the functional strength needed in shooting gaps.
This is a player that is far too easily washed out of plays, discarded by blockers that knock back a hesitant Covington by getting into his square frame. Covington doesn't play with an ideal “nose for the football”, reluctantly creating contact when given a chance to do so.
Covington's block shedding techniques are incredibly raw. Showing better balance when plays are in front of him, Covington will struggle to change directions smoothly.
Covington came to Indiana as a two-way player, taking until his Sophomore season to focus on playing linebacker – eventually becoming a reliable Senior starter. This is still a prospect the Cowboys drafted as nearly a finished product, given Covington's physical limitations.
Linebacker Chris Covington: Summary
As mentioned, the Cowboys first of two sixth round picks will likely be in the hands of ST Coordinator Keith O'Quinn. While Rod Marinelli can work on developing Covington's motor and fine tuning his athletic traits, O'Quinn is getting a player that can replace some of the Cowboys FA departures.
Between Jaylon Smith, Sean Lee, and now Leighton Vander Esch, the Cowboys were not in the market for a starting linebacker as late in the draft as they took Covington. This bodes well for a Dallas team that still adds speed and depth to two units with Indiana's Chris Covington.