What are the Dallas Cowboys biggest needs this offseason?
By Mitch Larson
Yes, the Dallas Cowboys still currently have both Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch under contract. However, in 2021 both are a far cry from the players they were in 2018. Vander Esch has dealt with consistent injuries, making fans wonder if they are watching another Sean Lee situation play out in real-time, while Smith has dramatically regressed each of the last two seasons.
At this point, Jaylon Smith’s story has been recounted a ton of times, and it should, it’s an incredible and genuinely inspiring one. But this isn’t 2018 when he looked to be on the verge of becoming one of the league’s best young linebackers. Right now Smith has gone from a Pro Bowler in 2019 to a trendy cut candidate in a little under 12 months.
At times it felt like entire offensive gameplans were as simple as identifying no. 54 and attacking him. To be honest, you can’t really blame them either as they were mostly successful. Last season his defensive PFF grade of 54.2 was the worst of his career and saw him grade out as the league’s 91st linebacker.
For, Vander Esche he’s still flashed the ability that made fans fall in love with him his rookie year, but he hasn’t played nearly enough for anyone to see it consistently. In fact just about the only consistent thing with Vander Esche right now are injuries. At this point in his career, just can’t be counted on to start all 16 games for the Cowboys.
Penn State’s Micah Parsons could be a consideration for Dallas with the 10th overall pick, however, I wouldn’t put money on Dallas taking a linebacker that high with some combination of Surtain II, Farley, Slater, and even Florida Gator’s tight end Kyle Pitts likely to be available there. That said, depending on how the board falls it’s not the craziest idea in the world.
K.J. Wright of the Seattle Seahawks is entering free agency and a reunion with Dan Quinn could be great for all parties involved. He’s not the player he was a few years ago, but would instantly become the best linebacker on Dallas’ roster.