Last year I drank the kool aid. Wade Phillips and the Cowboys had just came out with a brand new flavor of kool aid, the Alan Ball at FS kool aid. It was sweet and delicious at first, but it became bitter and sour later on. The problem is that I bought into their other marketing of previous kool aids that tasted great. The Anthony Spencer kool aid going into 2009 was awesome. The Miles Austin kool aid vintage 2009 was again awesome. The Mike Jenkins kool aid had a special flavor to it, Pro Bowl status. The Cowboys have done a good job of selling players in their system into the next big thing. I didn't have to drink the Doug Free one because I knew Free was going to be a great left tackle. Sometimes the Cowboys are going to miss on players. They were wrong about Alan Ball, but have hit on so many other guys.
Wade Phillips had his best year as a head coach in 2009 leading us to the playoffs and finally getting a win. I cant blame him for anointing Alan Ball as the next big thing at free safety for us. The problem I did have was that there was no competition for the job, no backup plan. Wade had success with moving onto the next guy, but Alan Ball might have led to a major reason to our failures last year in the secondary. I am not a Wade fan, never have been and I never will be. But Wade did a great job in stepping up and getting his guy last year in the second round. I will never know if Wade actually wanted this player, but my gut says yes.
Nobody has ever really asked ChiaCrack what his preference is. Hey Chia, are you a defense or offense type of guy? Great question! I love offense and as you all know Dez Bryant is my favorite player. But there is something about a good defense that just gets me pumped up. I think the Cowboys year in and year out have some of the best talent in the NFL. I wanted to start with the defense because I believe we have some guys here who can be great players. With the addition of Rob Ryan and the infusion of talent we already have, plus what we add in the draft, I see our defense climbing back up the ranks again.
Experience: 1 season
Sean Lee has the potential to be one of the best inside linebackers in the NFL. Sean Lee is a player that I have followed for some time now. I live in the tri state area of NY, PA and NJ. I get a lot of coverage from the three states football programs and Penn State is a big one in my area. The Sean Lee I know is a blue chip prospect that happens to be maybe the best character guy on our team. The kid gets up and immediately starts with football. Football is his life, and you wont find a harder worker than Sean Lee. When I watched Lee play in college he really stood out because he is so energized the whole game. Its almost like he doesn't lose stamina. He has the speed to roam the whole field and also has the intelligence to understand what is going on. He has great instincts as well and can anticipate a play better than any linebacker in this draft and last years draft. He is actually a pretty underrated pass rusher and I would like to see him used more in that aspect. One of the reasons I think Lee was so high on the Cowboys board was that he is versatile. He can play any linebacker spot and plays each one really well. Lee is also a great tackler and will make sure he makes the tackle, something we should start teaching our young linebackers. He also has this amazing burst and strength to take on blockers. I cant tell you how many times I have seen him break up a play in the backfield. Lee is also solid in pass coverage, he had two huge picks last year in the Colts game.
I speak highly of Sean Lee for a few reasons. For starters, I am very familiar with this kid. I have seen plenty of his college games and followed him throughout his college career. Secondly I think his passion and hunger for the game is going to make him a long time NFL starter. The main reason why Jason Williams failed as a nickel linebacker was his awareness and knowledge of the game. It didn't help that he came from a small school, he was two steps behind his brief career in Dallas. Sean Lee will never have that problem. He is the first guy in Valley Ranch talking with Rob Ryan and breaking down the defense so he could grasp the concept right away. Lee is the perfect combination of talent, size and intelligence. The Cowboys had a first round grade on him, passing on some offensive lineman and safeties to take him.
I think that Sean Lee was a major steal in the second round, this is where a team sticks to their draft board taking the best available player or highest rated player over a need. The funny thing is, inside linebacker was a need last year and still is this year. We have a starting linebacker in Lee, but we have nobody behind Bradie James for the future. Its been really quiet on the Cowboys front issuing any news that they are interested in a inside linebacker, but trust me I guarantee it is on their list after right tackle and safety. It wouldn't shock me at all to see the Cowboys take a linebacker in the second round, there will be a few really good prospects available in the second round. I do want to point this out, I think Sean Lee could easily be a first round pick this year. Inside linebacker is a weak class this year, but Sean Lee is a blue chip linebacker that a team would love to grab in the later part of the first round. The Steelers, Giants and Patriots are the type of teams I thought would pursue Lee last year. So basically I believe we ended up with two steals last year in the draft, two first round picks.
I see Sean Lee as a starting linebacker this upcoming season, taking over for Keith Brooking. Brooking was a nice addition to the team, but he is old and its starting to show on the field in his performance. Brooking actually wouldn't be a bad depth guy, but considering his age I think it would be best to release him and go with a younger guy. Lee should step into the starting lineup with Bradie James. Rob Ryan is going to love Sean Lee, its just the perfect match. The type of football Rob Ryan plays and coaches suits Sean Lee. Any coach will love Lee because of his hunger for the game. This is the type of guy who drives you nuts because he asks too many questions, but the great players are like that. I see Lee being the quarterback of the defense, which I don't see right now. Brooking tries, but is too old. Actually one of the safeties is supposed to be this also, but Sensabaugh doesn't want the responsibility. Ball is way too green to be leading also. Watch, I guarantee you see a 24 year old kid run the huddle next season. This will become the quarterback of the defense that Rob Ryan will cherish.
I think Lee is going to have a breakout season. I see Lee beginning his career and we will see the rise of a truly talented football player. The one negative about Sean Lee is injuries. This is the one thing that could prevent Lee from becoming a great player in the NFL. I remember when he tore his ACL in 2008, the kid was crushed. He stayed positive throughout the whole ordeal and worked hard in the training room. He got stronger and faster. Lee also grew more as a person, coaching on the sidelines and pumping his teammates up. Lee suffered some minor injuries last year, but I think his rookie season was what they call growing pains. He had the lows of being benched by Wade Phillips and not used as the nickel linebacker, which I am still scratching my head over. Lee suffered minor injuries that held him out of the lineup. He also had the high of picking of Peyton Manning twice, one for a touchdown and the other one setup the game winning field goal. I think Lee is working harder than ever this spring and will be in top notch shape. I see the injuries not being a problem this year because I think Lee will be in much better shape.
I wont lie to you, I am a big Sean Lee homer. At first I wondered why the Cowboys took Lee over a safety or offensive tackle last year, but then I actually looked at our inside linebacker depth. I remembered how good this kid was at Penn State his whole career. Lee is one of those guys that's just a Dallas Cowboy. He stands and represents everything the star stands for. I think a lot of people saw Sean Lee and labeled him as the next Bobby Carpenter. Lee is the total opposite of Carpenter, Lee is a physical machine, like the terminator. Sometimes fans get this stereotype on new players reminding them of previous players on their team. I also believe some saw another white boy linebacker and immediately labeled him Barbie. The two couldn't be more opposite.
I have Sean Lee down as my number one breakout player on defense, Lee will be a beast mark it down in black marker. I wanted to start a new series on some of the talent we already have on the team. I got a few more on defense and some guys on offense, I think the next fan post I will move back to offense and feature a player. I really hope all the Sean Lee haters out there remember what they said about this kid, and then eat a big piece of humble pie this season.
Rookie Sean Lee, 31 Yard INT for TD (via DCBStar)
GMC Never Say Never: Sean Lee, LB (via DCBStar)
Sean Lee Feature (via PSUFootball1)
Universaldraft Presents Sean Lee OLB - Penn State (via Conuficus)