Sean’s Scout: Raw LB Justin March-Lillard Shows Potential

After discussing earlier if the Dallas Cowboys should sit LB Jaylon Smith with Anthony Hitchens and Sean Lee back on the field right here at Inside The Star, the Cowboys were busy yesterday shuffling their roster ahead of a week six bye. CB Nolan Carroll was released, freeing up a roster spot that was used to add LB Justin March-Lillard.

Signing as a UDFA with the Kansas City Chiefs out of Akron in 2015, March-Lillard spent his first year in the league on IR prior to seeing the active roster for a short time in 2016. This playing time from last year is the last we’ve seen of the smaller Justin March-Lillard at linebacker, as he’s bounced from the Dolphins to the Seahawks so far this season.

Brandon George on Twitter

Cowboys have signed LB Justin March-Lillard. When the Chiefs released him after final cuts, Cowboys did put in a claim for him, but Dolphins signed him. He was in Seattle last week: “It’s been a crazy, crazy month. I’m real excited to be here.

Now that the Cowboys have March-Lillard, let’s find out what he brings to this team in Sean’s Scout.

Justin March-Lillard Vs Chargers

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A raw player, March-Lillard saw reps at all three LB positions with the Chiefs – carrying the same fundamentals and nose for the football through each. Displaying the traits of a natural WILL, March-Lillard glides from sideline to sideline effortlessly with long strides.

Not a player that is going to overwhelm with his physique or powerful play, March-Lillard puts himself in position to make plays on the ball by diagnosing plays quickly and consistently playing with his eyes, feet, and hands in sync.

Taking on blocks is a problem at times for Justin, who is listed at 222 pounds. March-Lillard will get caught playing with a wide base, allowing his blocker to work inside of him and steer. Lacking the hand power to disengage and hold the point of attack, March-Lillard does show flashes of driving his blocker with his balance before finishing plays with solid form as a tackler in space.

Justin March-Lillard Vs Steelers

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In pass coverage, March-Lillard can drop with ideal quickness while reading the quarterback and adjusting smoothly. Setting the edge offensively against him is difficult, as this is a player comfortable at any depth along the front seven. Picking through blocks at the line, holding his own at MIKE or SAM, running to the ball at WILL, and dropping into coverage are all things that Justin March-Lillard showed the potential to do regularly in Kansas City.

Justin March-Lillard Vs Chargers

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

If the Cowboys are actually going to reduce Jaylon Smith’s workload, it will be because they already have the numbers to put on the field at LB with Hitchens, Lee, and Damien Wilson.

March-Lillard may have a hard time fitting right into the rotation on defense (his impact on special teams could be felt immediately), especially considering another area of weakness in his game.

Justin March-Lillard Vs Chargers

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

The true stopping power that linebackers in this league must have at some point is a real issue for Justin March-Lillard, as you see above. Putting March-Lillard at SAM LB on a goal line play like this put him in a bad position pre-snap, and the Chargers run right at him for a touchdown.

Justin March-Lillard Vs Chargers

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

In Rod Marinelli’s scheme, March-Lillard will have a fighting chance to play his style of football at MIKE and WILL in certain situations, but only if plays like this last one I’ll show become less common. As March-Lillard reads this play patiently and shoots the gap, he fails to plant and bring his body into the tackle. Slightly overrunning the play, Justin’s arm tackle attempt fails and allows a play that could have been a negative gain to pick up a few on the ground.

John Owning on Twitter

Pro Day numbers for Justin March-Lillard #Cowboys

Overall, the Cowboys roster move yesterday to move on from Nolan Carroll says more about the confidence they have in their young defensive backs. Using the roster spot to address a position of need though, Justin March-Lillard finds himself settled into his third team of the year with a chance to further his game and earn meaningful snaps in Dallas at linebacker.

Tell us what you think about “Sean’s Scout: Raw LB Justin March-Lillard Shows Potential” in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

What do you think?


Written by Sean Martin

Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.


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