Dallas Cowboys: Unknown player shines in preseason opener


The stars at night, are big and bright…Deep in the heart of Texas! And the stars of the Dallas Cowboys shine even brighter on gameday. So bright, in fact, relatively unknown players can have press worthy performances and not even register a blimp on the media’s radar. And when those performances come in a preseason game, they are almost non-existent.

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That is certainly the case for newly signed linebacker Jonathan Brown. Despite racking up four tackles in only 16 snaps during Thursday night’s preseason opener against the San Diego Chargers, almost no one seemed to have noticed. But the good folks over at Pro Football Focus gave Brown the second highest overall grade for a defender to play in the Cowboys first preseason contest.

In fact, PFF credited the undrafted second-year linebacker with four tackles, one assist and four stops. In this case, stops defined as sole defensive tackles made which constituted an offensive failure. Not bad for only being in for 16 plays. The 23-year old linebacker’s impressive performance got the attention of former NFL scout and current analyst for the team’s official site, Bryan Broaddus.

"“I haven’t had much of an opportunity to see much of linebacker Jonathan Brown’s work in this camp, but in the second half of this game against the Chargers, I sure took notice,” Broaddus wrote in an article that appeared on DallasCowboys.com this weekend. “Brown finished the game with four tackles and was all over the field in the opportunity that he got. Brown was slipping blocks, filling holes and finishing plays. He was physical at the point of attack playing with solid technique and being right where he needed to be on his run fits. His play was so solid that I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if he were to get more of a look at practice and earlier in these preseason games.”"

Brown was signed by the Cowboys, along with fellow linebacker Ka’Lial Glaud, back on August 3rd after the team waived/injured linebacker Justin Anderson and offensive tackle Reshod Fortenberry. The young linebacker went undrafted out of Illinois in 2014. He spent time on both the practice squads for the Arizona Cardinals and the Chicago Bears since.

While at Illinois, Brown was an all-conference selection three times, recording 119 tackles, 15.0 tackles for a loss, 5.0 sacks, four passes defended, 1.0 forced fumble and one interception in 12 games his senior season. He was projected to be a fifth or sixth round selection by NFL.com.

"“Undersized, athletic, finesse, inconsistent Will linebacker who needs to be kept clean to be effective,” NFL.com’s Nolan Nawrocki said of Brown following the 2014 Scouting Combine. “Small frame, deficient instincts and soft run defense likely relegate him to a backup role, and he will have to excel on special teams.”"

By no means am I implying that Brown has a chance to become a starter with the Cowboys this year. But as a possible developmental prospect, he may be worth watching in the team’s second preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

Next: Will rookie Damien Wilson earn a starting role on this defense?