The Dallas Cowboys are now into 2023 NFL draft mode as they look for ways to rebuild and reload position groups. All the conversation is on the first round but there is always plenty of hay to be made beyond that. The Cowboys have been fruitful in other rounds and need to do so once again this year if they want to make a third-straight trip to the playoffs.
Some defensive standout second round picks in recent memory for the Cowboys are cornerback Trevon Diggs, defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, and defensive end Sam Williams. This year the Cowboys could continue that trend with landing a prospect that has the potential the be a plug-and-play starter on his first day in Dallas and command the defense for years to come.
All of that said, here is an in-depth analysis and look at a player who is one of the top-50 prospects in the country that the Cowboys could be grateful to land in the second round if he makes it to them.
Dallas Cowboys Draft Profile: Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa Hawkeyes
Who is Jack Campbell?
2022 Stats: 128 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 3 pass breakups, 2 interceptions
NCAA Career Stats: 305 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 15 pass breakups, 5 interceptions
Accolades: 2022 Dick Butkus Award Winner (nation’s best linebacker), 2022 Unanimous Consensus First-Team All-American, 2022 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, 2x All-Big Ten First-Team
Meet Jack Campbell, Iowa Hawkeyes linebacker, team captain, and the heart and soul of the nation’s best defense in 2022. Campbell has led the Hawkeyes in tackles the last two seasons while being the catalyst that makes things go.
Iowa’s defensive coordinator Phil Parker placed an immense amount of responsibility on Campbell’s plate in the 2022 season and all he did was go out and win the award as the nation’s best linebacker. In eight games last year he tallied at least 10 tackles. His best game may have been his curtain call in Iowa’s 2022 Music City Bowl victory over Kentucky in his final game as a Hawkeye. He contributed 10 tackles, two tackles for loss, and a sack to spearhead the shutout win.
He is lengthy, extremely intelligent, plays sideline-to-sideline, and has an innate instinct for always being around the ball as he constantly found himself forcing fumbles, recovering fumbles, and intercepting passes.
Why Jack Campbell is a good fit for the Dallas Cowboys
Jack Campbell checks every box for the type of linebacker that would fit in a Dan Quinn defense. He is long, he can run, he understands gaps, and more than anything he is extremely intelligent which could lend himself to calling the defense. Imagine Micah Parsons knowing he has a reliable comrade behind him allowing him to be a bit more free flowing with Campbell ready to clean up the mess.
There are multiple reasons that Campbell is a perfect puzzle piece fit for Dallas. First, the Cowboys are aging at linebacker a little bit. Anthony Barr is 30-years old and has a few bumps and bruises that aren’t healing faster. Leighton Vander Esch had a great bounce back season in 2022 but he also carries some baggage with injuries. It can’t be assumed he is a long-term solution as much as his performance held the defense together at times during 2022.
Secondly, the Cowboys may elect to go not only younger at middle linebacker, but also more team-friendly with the cost of it. Vander Esch is projecting to get in the neighborhood of $6-8 million per year on a two or three year deal. Campbell would likely get a deal that is four years long with a salary in the range of $1-1.5 million annually.
Where to draft Jack Campbell
Dallas currently holds six picks in the upcoming draft. As much as Campbell would be an instant starter with a great shot at a Pro Bowl, the Cowboys aren’t spending pick No. 26 on a middle linebacker. That is okay, though, as most teams aren’t and Campbell will likely make it to the second round.
This is where Dallas has to hold their breathe that he gets to pick No. 58. Current mocks have Campbell as high as No. 49 to the Pittsburgh Steelers or No. 59 to the Detroit Lions. There is belief he will be there when the Cowboys’ second pick hits the clock. This is the most logical and practical way to land Campbell.
Should a team fall in love with Campbell during the pre-draft testing and interviews, which seems much more likely than not, there is a trade option. There is no need to give up the house for a second round pick, but it is more than worthy of bundling picks No. 59 and No. 159 in the fifth round to go up and get an instant starter with a skillset that upgrades Dallas’ defense immediately.