Why the Dallas Cowboys should draft a linebacker early in 2020

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys thought the defense would be their strength coming into the season, but it wasn’t. Here’s a move they should make in the draft to help.

The Dallas Cowboys came into the 2019 season with high hopes. Not only did they think they were Super Bowl contenders, but so did the fanbase and the rest of the world.

They were supposed to be this young, hungry, ferocious bunch that were led by their freshly paid stud running back in Ezekiel Elliott and their poised young quarterback in Dak Prescott. They were supposed to be able to dominate games on the backs of their relentless running game and their top-10 defense from the just the season prior.

While the defensive line and secondary obviously played insane and above their heads in the 2018 season, this season was supposed to be anchored on the defensive side of the ball by the Cowboys stud young linebacking core of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch.

Making this tandem just that much more lethal was the fact that the third linebacker in the pecking order is one of the most talented and high performing linebackers in the league when he’s right health-wise in Sean Lee.

Not only did they not maintain last year’s high level of production as a group, but they also regressed, and this is even prior to LVE going down with a neck injury.

It is that neck injury, among other things, that have brought us here though. The Cowboys need to invest an asset, something in rounds 2-4 in the upcoming NFL Draft, into a linebacker.

The reasons are fairly simple, but complex at the same time. Starting with health, the Dallas Cowboys linebackers are amongst the most polarizing group in football. When you look at them all as individuals and as a group, they are among the most talented in the business, however, they are also among the most brittle.

Lee has always had a problem staying healthy, which is what has kept him from being a perennial All-Pro if you ask me. Smith had the gruesome leg injury at Notre Dame, which not only cost him his first-round draft pick status but also his first professional year while recovering.

If you add to this the finicky injuries that are neck and/or spinal injuries, then Vander Esch’s outlook doesn’t look all roses, bubblegum, and butterflies either. There was even talk at some point where the Cowboys mentioned that they didn’t think it was a “career-threatening” injury, after weeks of him already having sat out.

That in itself bothers you if you are a fan, leaving you to wonder, “why was that even a conversation or brought up”? There may be something going on there.

The second reason is performance. They weren’t as good this year and to add another high-level performer to the group would serve to not only internally motivate them as players, but also simply add to the overall depth of an important position.

The next aspect of the performance side is that the Cowboys need another backer that could possibly excel in coverage, and especially on the tight ends. All too often in this past season, the Cowboys were killed by tight ends. If you would look at your television screen right now … oops … Dallas Goedert just caught another big pass on the Cowboys for a huge Eagles’ conversion.

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Do you see the picture? The Dallas Cowboys have the requisite talent to win at the highest level and hopefully, they now have the head man in place to take them there. They would do themselves a great justice, however, if they looked to add another linebacker in the earlier rounds of this upcoming draft and these have been the reasons why.