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NFL Draft

Why LB Isn’t a 1st-Round “Need” for the Cowboys

Brian Martin

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Why LB Isn't a First-Round Need for the Cowboys

The 2018 NFL Draft is merely weeks away and drawing closer and closer by the minute now that we have entered the month of April. All of the speculation and anticipation about who the Dallas Cowboys will select will finally come to an end and we can all hopefully breathe a sigh of relief.

As things stand right now, there is no clear-cut player or position the Dallas Cowboys seem to be targeting with the 19th overall selection in the first round. I think the only two positions we can mark off the list for sure in the first round is quarterback and running back, everything else is probably fair game.

I know a lot of Cowboys Nation want to see the Dallas Cowboys take a defensive player with their first pick, and from what I've seen, linebacker and defensive tackle are at the top the list. It certainly makes sense considering the Cowboys roster depth at each position, but I'm not completely sold that's the direction they need to go.

I'm all for the Cowboys drafting a DT in the first round if his name is Vita Vea, but that's because I believe he is a difference maker and his addition to the defensive line helps everyone around him. That's what you're supposed to get from a first-round draft pick.

With that in mind, it's also why I don't think it would be wise by the Dallas Cowboys to draft a linebacker in the first-round.

Jaylon Smith

Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith

The Dallas Cowboys already have their starting LBs heading into the 2018 season in Sean Lee (WILL), Jaylon Smith (MIKE), and Damien Wiilson (SAM). It just doesn't make a lot of sense to draft another LB who isn't going to make an immediate impact.

Having said that though, Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds would be a draft day steal if still available for the Cowboys at 19. It's a no-brainer to write their name down on the draft card, but those are the only two LBs I'd personally consider that early.

What the Dallas Cowboys really need at the LB position is depth. They need a player who can step in and fill the role left by Anthony Hitchens. They really just need a rookie with starting potential/traits, who can fill in a few games if needed if someone goes down with an injury. These kind players can be found a little later in the draft.

I know my opinion about a first-round linebacker may be an unpopular one with many of you, but I think it's the right one. I just believe different positions besides LB can make more of an immediate impact. We don't need another backup/project in the 1st like Taco Charlton.

Do you think the Dallas Cowboys "need" a LB in the first-round?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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10 Comments
  • Chuck Wright

    I am a YUGE believer that VV would make the biggest impact of any player on the board for 2018. So if DaBoys nab him, excellent, he makes everyone around him better.

    Having said that, this draft is not about 2018 as much as it is about the next 3-4 years and LB is a YUGE need. Sean Lee is an injury waiting to happen. Doesn’t mean I don’t love him but we need his replacement.

    Would love to see Dallas take next year’s 2 plus something to land another player in this year’s 2nd round or to trade back if VV is off the board. Barring some other big talent sliding.

    Would like to see 2 LBs, a 1 Tech, a S, an OL (2 if they take Toth who’s a layaway player, 2 year Army commit) and a speedy WR (Pettis, Miller, St Brown, Chark etc bunch available in rounds 2 and 3) and guess what. . .we need Whitten’s replacement too.

  • Hector Espindola

    I see your point but respectfully I don’t agree that LB is only a depth issue, because Lee may get injured any time and we need an starter. For me, LVE -taken at #19 and who can play SAM- can share snaps with Damien Wilson in order to become that starter in the short run. Having said so, if and only if VV is our first round, I wouldn´t mind getting a LB even at day 3 (because VV would make our LB’s look better asap, no matter what). However, something sadly tells me that the 1T is a matter of later rounds of the draft, unless VV or Da’Ron are valued by the FO as a 1T with versatility to play 3T. I want VV/Da’Ron as our first selection, if not LVE.

  • Saul Molina

    Vita vea is my guy all the way linebacker is something we need to address but you can do it in the later rd maybe josey jewell but there’s no way you spend your first rd pick on leighton vander esch sorry he’s good but not for 19th second rd pick i would love it unless it’s roqaun smith or trumaine Edmunds in first rd no linebacker in first rd

  • Chet Horton

    I completely disagree.

    LB is our biggest need and will be the position most likely to directly help us win more games, a 1 technique DT doesn’t make that kind of impact. We already have a 1 technique DT that is decent and you can improve on that position no earlier than the 4th round.

    Evans and Vander Esch are better picks at 19 than VV for the Cowboys. Jaylon Smith has position flex as does Evans and both picks would be a huge upgrade of Wilson who has a really bad habit of over running plays.

    Wynn at G is the pick if you don’t go LB then get a LB in the 2nd round.

    My prediction is we pick Vander Esch with the 19th pick.

    • Fact Based Opinion

      What you’re missing is that Vita Vea, because of his size and dominance, makes all the other defensive linemen MORE effective because of the attention VV draws. Sacks would increase by 8-10 per season with VV.

      • Chet

        I don’t agree with your assessment. You can’t predict how much impact he will have in a manner of additional sacks. Collins is most definitely big enough and a lot faster than VV and played 1 technique very well. I think Collins will have more sacks and produce more pressure than VV will. Price is the backup and he is getting better each year. That combine with Evans, if they take him, ability to rush the passer and make other pass rushers more effective makes the argument a moot point. Pass rush wasn’t our problem last year it was our secondary play and that was shored up with the youth movement we had late in the season. We need the most dominate run defense in the NFL and great LB’s will bring you that. I will admit that either this plays out LB, VV, or one of the top 2 G’s its a good problem to have.

  • Fact Based Opinion

    I generally agree but I disagree with the title of the article. Linebacker is a NEED. It would just be smarter to use the first pick on some other position (like DT), but get back to selecting a linebacker in the second or third round and again in the 4th or 5th.

  • oneputter

    we definitely need LB’s, big need for this defense.

    as many have pointed out here, 50 we can’t rely on, 54 we are not sure about yet, that leaves 57 as our only LB with experience. i am a fan of wilson and see that he is underrated by many but if you look at our LB’s he has been the most consistent one in terms of games played and staying healthy. he does have some problems with over pursuing but i also think he needs to be used more on blitzes both run and pass.

    i would not be dissapointed with evans at 19, we certainly don’t need a WR at 19. there are many to be had in the later rounds.

  • Tommy Davis

    Vita Vea or Da Ron Payne if available would make the most sense at pick # 19. If they are off the board, wide receiver and linebacker are the next most glaring needs. You have to get it right if you choose a wide receiver or a linebacker at pick # 19. Vander Esch would not be the right choice here, you have to use your head and not pick with your heart. There are 3 fast athletic linebackers in this draft that would immediately make an impact, Roquan Smith, Rashaan Evans, and Tremain Edmunds. The best wide reciever in the draft in my opinion is D J Moore, he would immediately upgrade the Cowboys passing game with his ability to get open and take the top off with his speed running deep. The Cowboys wasted their #1 pick last year with Charlton, they can’t afford to miss again. Vander Esch is a tall, straight line runner, not very athletic, which in todays game, you have to be athletic because of the elusiveness of the running backs and recievers. Selecting Vander Esch at pick #19 would be 2 years in a row of wasting your first round pick. Teams like the Rams, Eagles, Saints to name a few, get it right by selecting the most talented players that can immediately make an impact in areas of need. The Cowboys front office is lacking and needs to improve .

    • elindio42

      Vander Esch is faster than Evans. Also bigger and can play all LB spots.

NFL Draft

Looking Ahead to 2019 NFL Mock Drafts, a Pass Catching Theme Persists

John Williams

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Looking Ahead to 2019 NFL Mock Drafts a Theme Persists

The Dallas Cowboys haven't played the 2018 NFL season yet, but that shouldn't stop us from looking ahead to the 2019 NFL Draft and seeing what players the team will have their eye on this fall.

With the NFL season fast approaching, that means the college football season is as well, and as we look through these mocks, perhaps you get an idea of whom to watch with a Cowboys perspective this fall.

I scoured the internet looking for the best and brightest minds and their "way too early 2019 mocks." As I perused the mocks, one thing was clear. Many of the national writers see the Dallas Cowboys going with an offensive pass catcher in the 2019 NFL Draft. Namely a TE.

TE Noah Fant, Iowa

Noah Fant, from the University of Iowa, will be a junior in his 2019 season and as a sophomore caught 30 passes for 494 yards (16.5 yards per reception) and 11 touchdowns. The receptions and yardage may not look all that impressive, but if we think about Iowa's offense in the Big 10, we can understand that he's not going to get many opportunities to catch the ball when the team is running it as often as they do.

In fact, the Hawkeyes ran the ball 10 more times per game than they threw it and their quarterback only completed - on average - 15 passes a game.

Fant accounted for 21% of the receiving yards on the season and 42% of the passing touchdowns. He was only 36 yards away from leading the team in receiving despite catching 21 fewer passes than leader Nick Easley. No other pass catcher for Iowa had more than four receiving touchdowns.

If there's something not to like at the moment about Fant, it's his size.

At the moment, College Football Reference has him listed at 232 pounds. There are running backs that weigh more than Fant does and he'll probably need to add about 10-20 pounds in the NFL to be an effective in-line blocker.

Mocked to the Dallas Cowboys by Dane Brugler of The Draft Show on DallasCowboys.com. In a mock draft he did for Sports Day DFW and the Dallas Morning News, he had this to say.

"It is now the post-Witten era in Dallas and unless a tight end on the roster emerges this season, the position could be high on the wish list next offseason. His athleticism makes Fant an appealing up-and-coming prospect."

Dane Brugler - Sports Day DFW, Dallas Morning News

Eric Galko of The Sporting News selected the Iowa tight end to the Cowboys as well, seeing him as a special prospect that has the chance to fill the shoes of Jason Witten.

Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington also had Noah Fant to the Cowboys, thinking they are in need of a Jason Witten replacement.

DE Austin Bryant, Clemson

Depending on what Dallas can get out of Right Defensive Ends Tyrone Crawford, Randy Gregory, Dorance Armstrong, and Charles Tapper, it could have the Cowboys taking a defensive end in the first round for the second time in three years.

Will Brinson's mock doesn't offer much analysis on Bryant, mostly saying that Clemson is going to be good. But here's what Draftek.com's Brett Clancy, who covers the 49ers, had to say about Bryant:

"Clemson's Austin Bryant is the 4th EDGE off the board in this mock and 2nd from his school, but he's still well worth a mid-round pick. Bryant broke out with 8.5 sacks as a junior last year and many thought he'd go pro. I like Bryant's move to stay in school and refine his game, specifically growing a repertoire of pass rush moves to complement his strong edge-setting ability."

Brett Clancy - Draftek.com

Bryant was amazingly disruptive for the Clemson Tigers as a junior, racking up 50 total tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, and 8.5 sacks. At 6-5 265, he could come in and play right defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys on day one.

DT Raekwon Davis, Alabama

We know that the Dallas Cowboys have an affinity for Power 5 prospects and Jason Garrett goes back with Nick Saban.

Despite that relationship, it hasn't led to many Alabama players being selected by the Dallas Cowboys. Perhaps, that should tell us something.

One other factor that could be in play with Davis is dependent upon who the defensive coordinator is in 2019. We all know that Rod Marinelli doesn't place premium draft value on defensive tackles, but prefers to find diamonds in the rough to develop.

If Kris Richard takes over as the defensive coordinator in 2019, the story could be a bit different. Seattle, with Richard at the defensive helm, selected defensive tackles in the second round of the 2016 and 2017 NFL Drafts.

If the Dallas Cowboys are going to spend a first on a defensive tackle, this is the guy to do it on.

He was highly productive as a sophomore for the Crimson Tide, racking up 69 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. He also had one interception that was returned for 19 yards. At 6-7 306 pounds, he has the size and frame to be an immediate impact player on the Dallas Cowboys interior.

If the Dallas Cowboys choose not to resign David Irving in the 2018 offseason and Maliek Collins doesn't take a step forward, then Davis becomes a real possibility.

Here's what Draftek's Cowboys analyst had to say about Raekwon Davis.

"Alabama's Raekwon Davis has played both DT and DE in the Crimson Tide's 3-man line. He can maintain his gaps against the run when needed, but his primary skill set is using his long arms and strong lower body to use a variety of pass rush moves to win with power and speed. 

"One red flag on Davis happened 8/27/17: he was struck in the leg by a stray bullet during the wee hours of Sunday morning at a Tuscaloosa bar (Bar 17) where several shootings have occurred over the past few years. Despite HC Jason Garrett's affinity for Nick Saban coached players, this incident might remove him from the Dallas board."

Long Ball - Dratek.com

Interestingly, Draftek did a second round in this mock and they sent Boston College Safety Lukas Denis to the Dallas Cowboys.

S Jaquan Johnson, Miami

Speaking of safeties, Dan Kadar over at SBNation sent one to the Dallas Cowboys in the form of Jaquan Johnson.

Johnson, from the University of Miami, was very productive in his junior season for the Hurricanes, racking up 96 total tackles, three tackles for loss, a sack and four interceptions. He returned one of those interceptions for a touchdown.

Here are Kadar's thoughts on the second team All-ACC player:

"There was a lot of talk during the draft that the Cowboys were in talks to trade for Earl Thomas. If they want to address safety next draft, Johnson was a second-team all-conference player who some thought would go pro."

Dan Kadar - SB Nation

Obviously, this pick will depend on what happens with Earl Thomas over the next nine months and the development of Xavier Woods, but Johnson will be a name to watch for teams that need a safety.

Looking Ahead to 2019 NFL Mock Drafts a Theme Persists 2

Miami Hurricanes WR Ahmmon Richards

WR Ahmmon Richards, Miami

Another Hurricane to have on your NFL Draft radars is Wide Receiver Ahmmon Richard, who is going into his junior season at Miami.

The Dallas Cowboys have begun the process of overhauling their wide receiver corp with the departures of Dez Bryant and Brice Butler in the 2018 offseason. In 2019, it's likely that Terrance Williams (contract) and Cole Beasley (age) could be next to go.

That would leave them with Michael Gallup, Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, Deonte Thompson, Noah Brown, and Cedric Wilson as their WR depth chart. It's certainly a solid group, but adding a talent like Richards could help.

The Draft Wire's Luke Easterling believes, "Richards would be another great addition with impressive size and speed."

In two seasons at Miami, Richards has averaged 18.8 yards per reception, and 68.65 yards per game. He's got deep-threat ability which would combine well with Gallup and Hurns.

WR Collin Johnson, Texas

If Richards doesn't do it for you, then lets head a couple of hours south of Dallas to the University of Texas and Wide Receiver Collin Johnson.

Bleacher Report's Matt Miller has the Dallas Cowboys going with the junior wide receiver and had this to say:

"The Dallas Cowboys made interesting moves at wide receiver in the 2018 draft—trading Ryan Switzer to Oakland, acquiring Tavon Austin from Los Angeles, not selecting a receiver early—and will head into the upcoming season with a need for a playmaker down the field. Texas' Collin Johnson at 6'6" can be the downfield weapon and red-zone nightmare the Cowboys so badly want.

"Johnson does need to improve upon his production from the last two seasons and prove to scouts he can run well enough to separate from NFL defenders, but his size and hands are already getting buzzed about as teams prepare for the upcoming college season."

Matt Miller - Bleacher Report

I'll agree with Miller that Johnson will need to increase upon his production. Some believe that the quarterback limitations in Austin have been a factor, but at the moment, I'm leery of taking a wide receiver from the Big 12 that doesn't have excellent production in the first round of the draft.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

It's obvious from these mock drafts that analysts see the Dallas Cowboys continuing to invest in pass catchers for their offense and that is a reasonable thought.

Obviously, a lot will change between now and next April when the Dallas Cowboys go on the clock, but this gives us a bit of insight on who to watch in this upcoming college football season.

What names will you be watching in college football this season?



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NFL Draft

Does Marquez White Assault Charge Alter Cowboys Plan in Supplemental Draft?

Sean Martin

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Does Marquez White Assault Charge Alter Cowboys Plan in Supplemental Draft?

Last night, it was reported that Dallas Cowboys Cornerback Marquez White has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The incident comes from a traffic confrontation that took place back in October, where White -- according to his camp -- was justified in drawing his weapon for self-defense.

A promising young player that stuck on the Cowboys practice squad in his rookie season, the sixth round pick doesn't need this case hanging over his head as training camp approaches. When considering the timing up against this week's supplemental draft, and the rare crop of defensive back talent available in it, White could soon be fighting for relevance on the Cowboys roster.

Becoming complacent in building one of the best young secondaries in the league won't be an issue for the Cowboys under new Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard. The Cowboys were relying on White to be a depth option behind projected starters Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, and Jourdan Lewis.

White's spot on the depth chart may very well hold up, but by the end of the week he could also have added competition in Adonis Alexander or Sam Beal.

Respectively, the former Virginia Tech and Western Michigan cornerbacks are two of the most talented supplemental prospects to enter the draft in years -- both likely to be the first players drafted since 2015.

Alexander and Beal are also joined by Mississippi State Safety Brandon Bryant as another backup option for Dallas.

Supplemental Draft: CB Adonis Alexander A Depth Option for Cowboys? 1

A lengthy cornerback with the toughness to play on the boundary, Alexander is a similar player to White, and one that Richard should love for his physical traits. Whether or not this natural skill outweighs some maturity issues that saw Alexander fall from freshman starter to suspended at VT will determine if the Cowboys feel comfortable sending away a 2019 draft pick for his services.

Where Alexander's career leaves his arrow trending downward on the eve of the supplemental draft, Beal is a rising prospect that some are calling the best to ever enter this draft.

An all-conference cornerback as a Junior out of Western Michigan, Beal improved with each passing college season, determined to finish out his degree along the way. However, once Beal's eligibility for his Senior season was called into question, the feisty 6'1" CB decided to turn towards the NFL.

Beal's professional football faith is now in the hands of any team that's done their homework on him. Projected to be taken as early as the third round, teams impressed by Beal's tape could be giving away a premium pick in next year's draft to add him just before training camp.

Should this team be the Cowboys, Beal's presence would put more than just White on notice. The Cowboys are also expecting corners like Duke Thomas and Kam Kelly to fight for roster spots. In a perfect world, say the one the Cowboys were living in yesterday before this White news broke, Thomas or Kelly could replace White on the practice squad as the Florida State product took another jump in Oxnard.

Cowboys CB Marquez White Could Emerge in 2018

Dallas Cowboys CB Marquez White

As I've written before though, teams must be relentless in their search for talent. The Cowboys have drafted well, but passed on big name free agents in recent years. The result is a young roster full of potential and ready to compete.

If either Adonis Alexander, Sam Beal, or even Brandon Bryant help them do so this year, we could be right here talking about a new Cowboys rookie in the middle of July. Marquez White would be happy to see this talk overshadow his legal situation for the moment.

This won't be the case when he's competing against another player that will likely cost the Cowboys more than the sixth round pick they invested in him two years ago.

Tell us what you think about "Does Marquez White Assault Charge Alter Cowboys Plan in Supplemental Draft?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Dallas Cowboys

Have the Dallas Cowboys Overcome Their 2nd-Round Curse?

Brian Martin

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Have the Dallas Cowboys Overcome Their 2nd-Round Curse?

You may not be aware or maybe you've simply forgotten, but the Dallas Cowboys have struggled drafting players in the 2nd-round who can come in and contribute. Typically players drafted this highly are not only immediate contributors as a rookie, but are cornerstone players for years to come. That hasn't been the case for the Cowboys.

I don't know where you stand, but I was beginning to think the Dallas Cowboys were cursed with their 2nd-round draft picks. I know this was an area where they would gamble on players for some reason or another, but unfortunately it never really paid off. Hopefully, things are changing for the better.

Let's take a look back at past drafts to see what I'm talking about.

Past 2nd-Round Draft Picks Dating Back to 2006:

2018 Connor Williams
2017 Chidobe Awuzie
2016 Jaylon Smith
2015 Randy Gregory
2014 DeMarcus Lawrence
2013 Gavin Escobar
2012 (no selection) used to trade for Morris Claiborne
2011 Bruce Carter
2010 Sean Lee
2009 (no selection) traded out of 2nd-round
2008 Martellus Bennett
2007 (no selection) used to trade back into 1st for Anthony Spencer
2006 Anthony Fasano

You may be wondering why I decided to start all the way back in 2006. Well, I believe that's when the 2nd-round draft picks curse started for the Dallas Cowboys.

Anthony Fasano ended up having a solid career in the NFL, but he never lived up to his draft status as a former 2nd-round draft pick. The same can be said for Martellus Bennett, Gavin Escobar, and Bruce Carter. Shed a tear for them if you want, but I'd put them in the "bust" category.

Sean Lee

Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee

The sad truth is, Sean Lee is the only 2nd-round draft pick on this list to ever see a second contract with the Dallas Cowboys. Although, I guess you can include DeMarcus Lawrence since he will be playing under the franchise tag in 2018. But, that's still not a very good hit percentage in the 2nd-round for more than a decade. Luckily, it looks as if things are changing.

DeMarcus Lawrence might end up being another "hit" for the Cowboys. It may have taken him four years to reach his potential, but there's no denying how dominant he was last season. If he can maintain that dominance this season, he could be looking at a big payday from the Cowboys.

The Dallas Cowboys took a risk on the next two players they drafted after D-Law. They knew Randy Gregory had his off the field issues, but were willing to take a chance on his talent in the 2nd-round. That has yet to pay off, but Gregory has a chance to rebound now that it looks as if he has his life back in order.

Jaylon Smith

Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith

The Cowboys took another risk in the following draft when they drafted Jaylon Smith. No one knew if he would ever be able to play again after the devastating knee injury he sustained in his final collegiate game, but it's looking as if he could make a full recovery and return to his pre-injury form. Year 3 will be big for him, but he could end up being an absolute steal.

Fortunately, the Cowboys 2017 and 2018 2nd-round draft picks (Chidobe Awuzie and Connor Williams) look to be cornerstone players for years to come. That's what you're looking for in players drafted this highly.

I say all of this because it's really looking like the Dallas Cowboys have finally broken their 2nd-round curse. Maybe it's a change in draft philosophy or maybe it's because Will McClay's voice carries more weight in the draft room, but it's definitely good news for the future of the franchise. Hopefully it continues.

Do you think the Dallas Cowboys 2nd-round curse has ended?



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