The Dallas Cowboys need Tyron Smith and La’el Collins to come back healthy and strong in 2020 if they want to achieve their goals of a deep playoff run and ultimately a trip to the Super Bowl. They are set to take on some of the best pass-rushing threats in the league from the Outside Lineback position in 2021 and will need their tackles back to form to slow them down. Let’s take a look at the top five toughest OLBs the Cowboys are scheduled to play this season.
No. 5 – Bradley Chubb, Denver Broncos – Week 9 @Dallas
Not only is Bradley Chubb one of the best young Outside Linebackers in the league, but his contact is also an absolute bargain for the Broncos in the 2021 season. In a year when Von Miller went down with a season-ending injury and didn’t play a single snap, Chubb continued to produce despite drawing more attention from offensive lines. Bradley Chubb wrapped 2020 with 42 total tackles, 7.5 sacks, and 9 tackles for loss. If Miller can return to his pre-injury form in 2021, the Broncos could have one of the scariest pass rushes in the AFC.
No. 4 – Matthew Judon, New England Patriots – Week 6 @NE
The Patriots acquired Matthew Judon this offseason as they looked to overhaul a major portion of their defense. Judon is coming off consecutive Pro-Bowl seasons with the Ravens and is one of the best at consistently generating pressure from the outside linebacker spot. In 14 games last year he finished with six sacks and 50 tackles (nine for a loss) and has over 30 pressures and 20 QB hits in each of the last three seasons.
No. 3 – Von Miller, Denver Broncos – Week 9 @Dallas
When Von Miller went down with a season-ending injury just days before Week One it sent a shock through the Broncos’ defense that they were never able to recover from. The last time we saw him in 2019 his numbers were down slightly, as he recorded just eight sacks which was the first time he has finished with single-digit sacks since 2013. However, with a full year off to rest and rehab his body, he is a prime candidate to have a huge bounce-back season in 2021.
No. 2 – Shaquil Barrett, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Week 1 @TB
Shaquil Barrett was one of the most important pieces of the Buccaneers Super Bowl run in 2020, as he finished with nine tackles (four for a loss), four sacks, and eight QB hits over their four-game run. While his numbers came back down to earth from his 19.5 sack campaign in 2019, he was still solid in 2020 with 57 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, eight sacks, three passes defended, and 42 pressures. The Cowboys won’t get much time to ease into things, as they are scheduled to take on Shaq Barrett and the rest of the Buccaneers’ dominant pass rush in week one.
No. 1 Chandler Jones ARI Week 17 @Dallas
Chandler Jones was limited to just five games in 2020 but is coming off a stretch of six straight seasons of at least 11 sacks and 40 tackles before that. That last time we saw him for a full season in 2019, Jones racked up a ridiculous 19 sacks, 53 tackles, eight forced fumbles, five passes defended, and 11 tackles for a loss. Simply put, he’s arguably the most disruptive pass rusher from the OLB spot in the entire league when he’s healthy. Now he will also have the help of JJ Watt, which should open the doors for Chandler Jones to easily rack up another double-digit sack season.