Evaluating the roster, I found the Dallas Cowboys’ linebacker group to be a major disappointment. Let me tell you why…
Minutes after releasing an article last week summing up the reasons Dallas Cowboys fans shouldn’t care about the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft, I’m asked by “Da Boss” to do a mock draft. Like former Cowboys quarterback, Tony Romo, I have decided to be a true company man and comply.
Of course, that meant evaluating the current roster and searching for room to improve. Unlike general mismanager and owner Jerry Jones, I actually have a draft day strategy which will be visible in an article released later.
To do a mock draft though, it required a total roster evaluation. It’s not as simple as screaming – We need a pass rusher! I’m also not the “delusional” super fan that believes the roster is perfect. We know “that guy” who thinks every player on the Cowboys depth chart is the best in the NFL at their position because they have – The Star – on their helmet.
We have just handed over the keys to the flagship after the unceremonious dismissal of a four-time Pro Bowl quarterback after 34,183 passing yards, 248 touchdowns, 78 wins and a 65.3 career passer rating, so that position isn’t up for grabs.
The running back position is stacked with Darren McFadden and pro bowlers Alfred Morris and Ezekiel Elliott. Like Phaedra Parks of The Real Housewives of Atlanta says, “Everybody knows if you attended the University of Arkansas, your roster spot is secure.”
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After doing this type of evaluation over the entire roster, I landed on one area. I can’t say that it’s a giant weakness, but more an area of disappointment.
Long time readers will expect me to start complaining about safety Byron Jones and his extremely below average play making skills at the free safety position as a first round draft pick. That’s too easy. When I think of the safeties group, I picture playoff interceptions by Jeff Heath.
My disappointment lands at the feet of the linebackers, especially Anthony Hitchens. As a rookie, he was outstanding while getting quality minutes at every linebacker position. Hitchens racked up 66 tackles in 11 starts as a rookie in 2014. In 2015, he started nine games and got 39 tackles. With Justin Durant breathing down his neck, he started 16 games and got 39 tackles.
Let’s play a quick game and see if you can finish this sentence. “Dude, remember that play from last year where Anthony Hitchens – (insert answer here)”. Actually, you can put the answer in the comments, that’ll be fun. Don’t forget to complain that I mention Romo’s stats in every article too.
I might be hard on Hitchens, but he’s a player that I liked from the moment he was drafted – I wrote this article about him two years ago. He was a four year player and led the Big Ten with 124 tackles in his junior year. With the Cowboys, he became a playmaker and his future looked extremely bright. What happened to this version of Anthony Hitchens?
I hate seeing players regress, don’t you? With Rolando McClain disappearing before the season like Blockbuster Video stores, Hitchens and Sean Lee should’ve been a deadly duo last year. Instead Damien Wilson finally emerged with 23 tackles and five starts – but I don’t recall memorable plays from Wilson or Kyle Wilbur either. Lee is clearly the Michael Jackson of this group.
Next year, it’s possible that Jaylon Smith could have the nerve to replace Hitchens at middle linebacker. That last sentence was so awesome, that I’m just going to wrap this up. We may soon see Lee, Smith and Wilson, but the linebacker group needs to have the nerve to improve.
If you’re good at reading between my witty, yet insightful lines, my first round, mock draft selection won’t be a surprise – (it’s not a kicker).
Until then, join me in waiting for the official 2017 NFL regular season schedule to be released this Thursday.