3 Cowboys who could lose their job to rookies in 2024

These Cowboys veterans better watch their back.
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1. S/LB Markquese Bell

There's nothing better than watching a player enjoy a breakout season. In actuality, Cowboys hybrid safety Markquese Bell had more than a breakout year. It was one of the biggest jumps from year one to year two in recent memory.

As a rookie, Bell only made one tackle and played 22 snaps. Last year his playing time and production jumped 649 snaps, 94 tackles, two forced fumbles, and three tackles for loss. He made the most of his opportunities after he was thrust into a starting role following Leighton Vander Esch's neck injury.

With that kind of production, one would expect the 25-year-old Bell to retain a notable role with the team. While that's true, the problem lies in what Mike Zimmer wants in his linebackers. A 6-3 and 205 pounds Bell is Dallas' smallest linebacker by 15 pounds.

With more emphasis on defending the run, Zimmer will be hesitant to play Bell in the box, where he played most of his snaps last season. Those reps instead may fall to fourth-round pick Marist Liufau. At 6-2 and 239 pounds, Liufau fits Zimmer's preferred linebacker profile much better.

Liufau wins with his head, being able to read plays and attack running lanes early. While sometimes that jump may come a little too early, he has the talent and mindset to work well in a Zimmer defense. Offensive linemen and running backs will not blow Liufau up as we saw with Bell last year. It cost the team too many yards against the run. That will make the rookie a more reliable option, at least in running-down situations.

That does not mean Bell will have a reduced role, but rather a different one. Instead of playing close to the line of scrimmage on possible rushing downs, he will play back in more of a safety role than a linebacker like last year.

Bell has already put in work to switch back to his natural safety position. How Bell is deployed along with other talented safeties on the team will be a sight to watch, but his time playing as a linebacker will be reduced at the very least.

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