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 .

    as a UDFA with the 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 , as he's bounced from the Dolphins to the Seahawks so far this season.

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

    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.

    In pass coverage, March-Lillard can drop with ideal quickness while reading the and adjusting smoothly. Setting the 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.

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

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

    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.

    In '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 . 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.

    Overall, the Cowboys roster move yesterday to move on from says more about the confidence they have in their young . 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.

    Sean Martin
    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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