Dallas Cowboys linebacker among preseason’s best in Week One
The Dallas Cowboys deepest position might be their linebacker corps as one of their defenders was recently named among the best in preseason Week One.
Following the 2018 NFL Draft, all eyes were on the Dallas Cowboys linebacker corps this summer. That’s because the Cowboys opted to use their first-round selection on Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch.
The 6-foot-4, 255-pound prospect, along with 2016 second rounder Jaylon Smith, represent the future of the Cowboys linebacker corps for many years to come. With two-time Pro Bowler Sean Lee leading the way, the middle of Dallas’ defense figures to be one of the team’s most talented positional groups on the entire roster.
But now, linebacker may also be one of the deepest. Beyond Lee, Smith, and the first round rookie, the Cowboys added some much-needed depth to the position as well. And the biggest acquisition appears to be former Green Bay Packers linebacker Joe Thomas.
Thomas was signed this offseason to a two-year to backup an injury-plagued starting group and be a special teams stalwart. But the 27-year old has been a bright spot at training camp and flashed during the Cowboys first preseason game, recording five combined tackles, one pass defend, and an interception in limited snaps.
Pro Football Focus actually named Thomas one of the top linebackers in the NFL for his play in the first week of the preseason with a rating of 92.9.
"“Thomas was all over the field on his 22 snaps Thursday night. He earned three stops in coverage and only allowed one catch for seven yards on two targets. Thomas added an interception for good measure for a 90.0 coverage grade.”"
An undrafted rookie free agent out of South Carolina State in 2014, Thomas was signed by the Green Bay Packers and spent his rookie season on their practice squad. The following year, the Packers released him before the team’s first regular season game.
Dallas would end up signing Thomas three days later and stashed him on their practice squad. But Thomas would only spend a total of 13 days as a member of the Cowboys before the Packers signed him back to their active roster.
Thomas went on to play three more seasons in Green Bay. His best year being in 2016, when he started in seven of his 16 games and recorded 70 total tackles, five pass defends, and an interception.
With injury concerns surrounding both Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith, the Dallas Cowboys needed to insure they had quality players behind them on the depth chart. After the way Joe Thomas played against the San Francisco 49ers Thursday night, the Cowboys have to feel really good about their depth at linebacker going into 2018.