Predicting the Dallas Cowboys’ linebacker depth chart for 2022
The Dallas Cowboys have shown in recent years that they are willing to invest heavily in the linebacker position. Since the 2018 NFL Draft, the Cowboys have invested two first-round picks in linebackers and picked plenty of others in the middle rounds. Now is the time for that unit to start making a name for themselves.
The unquestioned top linebacker on the depth chart will be Micah Parsons. But, who should be starting alongside him? I think the answer should be second-year player Jabril Cox. The LSU product played mostly on special teams last year before suffering a torn ACL in Week 8. Now, he is back, healthy, and ready to compete for a starting spot.
Cox is the most athletic of the linebackers not named Parsons and he has very good coverage ability. He brings more value to the table than Leighton Vander Esch, who I see slotting into the LB3 role. Vander Esch hasn’t been the same player that we saw in his rookie season. Even though the Cowboys did give him a one-year deal, I expect him to play a smaller role than we saw in the past.
The former first-round pick has been bitten by the injury bug plenty over his career and that has seemingly affected his play for the worse. While he did have flashes of solid play last season, giving him a smaller role should hopefully allow for him to stay healthy all season.
Predicting what the linebacker depth chart will look like for the Dallas Cowboys in 2022
After those three linebackers, we get into the question marks. Some names that should be considered for LB4 and beyond are Malik Jefferson, Christian Sam, and Devin Harper. The latter is the only Dallas draft pick of the group so he could have a slight advantage over the others.
Jefferson was signed before camp and has ties to the Texas area. He was a standout at the University of Texas before being drafted in the third round in 2018 by the Cincinnati Bengals. Jefferson has been a special teamer for most of his career but he is only 25 and could have some good football ahead of him.
Sam was signed by the Cowboys as a former part of the USFL. He played last season with the New Orleans Breakers and recorded 54 tackles, eight tackles for loss, and one interception in nine games. If he makes the team it will likely be as a special teams player unless he shows out during training camp.
Lastly, Harper was the Cowboys’ seventh-round draft pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Harper is another great athlete for his position.
As you can see his 9.51 relative athletic score puts him in elite range. While he will most likely get no snaps at linebacker this upcoming season, he remains an interesting project due to his athletic ability. Since he was drafted, I expect him to make the roster simply as a special teams ace.
This linebacker corps has a chance to surprise some people this year. As long as they stay healthy, this group should play a key role in the Cowboys’ defensive success. Keep an eye on training camp to see how the battle for LB2, LB3, and LB4 shakes out.