Dallas Cowboys: Jaylon Smith move confirms linebacker need?
With talk of Jaylon Smith playing strongside linebacker in 2018, does that confirm that the Dallas Cowboys will draft a linebacker high in the upcoming draft?
Speculation around the Dallas Cowboys and their upcoming NFL draft is the possibility that the team might draft a linebacker in the first round. And there are three candidates in particular. Those being Georgia’s Roquan Smith, Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds and Alabama’s Rashaan Evans.
But the fact is, the Cowboys already invested a second round pick in Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith just two years ago. And after a redshirt rookie season in Dallas spent recovering from a devastating knee injury, Smith’s debut in 2017 was met with rave reviews.
With two-time Pro Bowler Sean Lee entrenched at the weakside, Smith figured to be the favorite to start at middle linebacker this upcoming season. That is if the Cowboys are unable to re-sign free agent veteran Anthony Hitchens this offseason. If Dallas was able to retain “Hitch”, he’d likely be the favorite to start at the Mike linebacker role.
That signing would probably result in Jaylon Smith taking the strongside or the Sam role within the linebacker corps instead. As of yet, there has been no news about a possible Hitchens re-signing. But it appears that Jason Garrett may have let the Cowboys intentions with Smith slip during a recent press conference.
"“[Jaylon Smith] does have versatility. He can play any of the spots. You want to make sure you give him a chance to succeed,” Garrett told Pro Football Talk. “The SAM in our defense is an important spot but there is so much nickel defense being played in the NFL. Often times you only have two linebackers out on the field, so you want to give him more than just that role. He might be a SAM in base, but you want to make sure he has a role when we’re playing our two linebacker defense as well.”"
As all the speculation prior to this comment by Garrett was of Jaylon Smith playing at middle linebacker, suggesting he’ll play strongside could mean one of two things. First, that the Cowboys fully expect to re-sign Hitchens soon.
Or second, Dallas intends on investing in a starting middle linebacker either in free agency or the draft. And based on the Cowboys front office philosophy of building their team through the latter, you’d have to seriously consider them looking to fill that position with their first round selection, 19th overall.
Next: Cowboys 2018 NFL Draft - 7 round mock 1.0
If Anthony Hitchens is not re-signed this offseason, a free agent name Dallas Cowboys fans should be watching is NaVorro Bowman. The longtime San Francisco 49ers middle linebacker was scheduled to meet with the Cowboys before signing a one-year deal with the Oakland Raiders last October.