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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.

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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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Class: How Many Will Be Starters In 2018?

Kevin Brady

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2018 NFL Combine: 3 LBs Who Impressed
Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys have been showered with praise by most national NFL media outlets for their 2018 NFL Draft class. NFL.com graded the Cowboys as having the 2nd best class in the league, and most other analysts have agreed that the team had a strong showing.

But now, of course, it's time to see what these new players will actually do on the field. Some are hoping the team found 3-5 new starters for the 2018 roster, but history would suggest that is pretty rare.

Dallas' 2016 draft class has been lauded as one of the best in the last decade, especially considering they look to have found their franchise quarterback in round four. That strong class only features four full-time starters heading into 2018, but we have to wonder if that's the outlier and not the norm.

Still, as we look back and examine this 2018 draft class it really appears they have found three day one starters in the first three rounds.

First round pick Leighton Vander Esch is expected to be the starting MIKE linebacker this season, with former second round selection Jaylon Smith moving to SAM. Vander Esch wasn't my favorite option at 19, but he is certainly starter-worthy in this Cowboys LB corps.

On day two the Cowboys added OL Connor Williams and WR Michael Gallup, two of my personal favorite picks of their entire class. Williams should be the starting LG week 1 of the season, and Michael Gallup may overtake Allen Hurns as the most productive WR on the roster by year's end.

Cowboys Land Small School WR In Latest PFF Mock Draft

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 1: DUPLICATE***Colorado State Rams wide receiver Michael Gallup (4) picks up a few yards after catch as Colorado Buffaloes defensive back Isaiah Oliver (26) comes in for the tackle during the first quarter on September 1, 2017 in Denver, Colorado at Sports Authority Field. (Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post)

What about the rest of the class?

Dorance Armstrong will probably have too much competition to start at defensive end this season, but he should be an interesting rotational pass rusher. TE Dalton Schultz has the chance to surprise some people, but overtaking Geoff Swaim as the "starter" would be unexpected.

After that, the player with the best chance to make the team and contribute early on might be Boise State WR Cedrick Wilson. Wilson was a late day-two, early day-three pick to me so snagging him in the sixth round should provide incredible value to this roster. That wide out room is getting very crowded, though, so Wilson has his work cut out for him heading into camp.

How many of the Cowboys' 2018 draft picks will be starters in 2018? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.



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NFL Draft

Did the Dallas Cowboys Find 4 Starters in the 2018 NFL Draft?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Did the Dallas Cowboys Find 4 Starters in the 2018 NFL Draft?

One of the many winners of the 2018 NFL Draft were, without a doubt, the Dallas Cowboys. Not only did they addressed some of the team's most pressing needs, but they managed to draft very talented, capable players beyond the first round.

Cowboys Nation had to feel better about the rookie class the front office walked away with, specially after the second day of the Draft. Just like last year, they managed to find steals in the second and third rounds. In 2017, they did so with Cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis. Now, they stayed put at their original picks and walked away with OL Connor Williams and WR Michael Gallup.

But first things first. In the eyes of many, Leighton Vander Esch wasn't worth the 19th overall pick. While I do agree that Vander Esch was a questionable selection, the Cowboys fixed arguably their most concerning position of all. As much as it pains to admit it, Sean Lee has yet to play an entire NFL season and Jaylon Smith was pretty much the only other capable starter on the roster.

Cowboys en Español: Dallas Selecciona a Vander Esch, ¿Quién Sigue?

Although Vander Esch needs to develop a ton before reaching his full potential. he's a week 1 starter and an early contributor for this defense. Whether it felt like a "reach" or not, the Cowboys took a starter in the Boise State linebacker.

Later, the Cowboys managed to add an arguably first-round talent with pick #50 to plug-and-play along the offensive line. Texas OL Connor Williams was also seen as a tackle prospect, but he'll likely start at guard for Dallas as a rookie.

Since Ron Leary left for Denver, the left guard spot hasn't been as stable. Jonathan Cooper did a decent job filling that spot, but with Williams taking his place, the Cowboys dominance in the trenches will finally return. Playing next to All-Pros Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick, Connor Williams might become the best rookie in this class for the Cowboys.

One can't simply say the team found a "replacement" for Dez Bryant since he's a special player and with a very specific skill set, but Michael Gallup from Colorado State has the potential to become the team's WR1 pretty soon.

In the team's effort to build a Dak-friendly offense, Gallup is a crafty and smooth route-runner who has what it takes to play in any spot of the offense. His skill-set will allow him to play anywhere on the field and become Dak's favorite target in a year in which Jason Witten and Dez Bryant will no longer be lining up on his squad.

Taken in the first three rounds, Vander Esch, Williams and Gallup will be unquestionable starters. The question, however, is who else could become a starter for the Cowboys? Who could line up and start in week 1?

Dallas Cowboys Add Depth on Day 3, Building Future with Young Starters 1

Even though it definitely isn't as certain as the other three rookies, I'm betting on Dalton Schultz to be a more important starter than we imagine. Listen, maybe it's not an ideal scenario to have the TE from Stanford start in week 1, but it could be necessary.

The Rico Gathers Adventure might just be over before it starts and Geoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin may not be anything special. In college, Schultz was pretty good at run blocking. In the Cowboys' offense, led by one of the best running backs in the league, Ezekiel Elliott, Schultz may be able to find success earlier than expected.

Besides, he has what it takes to catch passes in the NFL and although he certainly won't be the flashiest, he could be enough to give Dak Prescott a reliable tight end.

Dalton Schultz could be the surprise of this Draft for Dallas. He'll probably become a starter at some point in the season and for a fourth-round pick, that's a very good thing to say.

For a front office that's constantly bashed by Cowboys Nation, their job at this year's NFL Draft was a pretty good one. Now it's just a matter of time to find out which picks were as good as we originally thought.

Tell me what you think about "Did the Dallas Cowboys Find 4 Starters in the 2018 NFL Draft?" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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