Besides being a good read about the former ACU Wildcat's transition to the NFL and being a Cowboys fan, there was this little nugget,
However, it wasn't long before the coaching staff moved him to inside linebacker...
As an ACU alum I am rooting for Whiteside to make the roster, but I have never considered him as an ILB.
I tried to put myself in the Cowboys front office shoes to see how Whiteside stacked up athletically compared to current Cowboys.
Make the jump to see what I found.
At Abilene Christian Whiteside was a highly decorated DE; including being named Lone Star Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Most draft sites had him as either a 4-3 DE or 3-4 OLB. There was some thought to him being able to add a few pounds to become a pass rushing 3-4 DE.
At no point did I remember hearing Whiteside mentioned as a potential ILB.
When looking at Whiteside's size, skill set and athleticism it is hard to imagine him as an ILB; but then again there are no NFL teams knocking down my door asking my advice on player personnel.
Here are Whiteside's Pro Day numbers compared to current Cowboys on the roster:
|Aston Whiteside||ILB?, OLB?, DE?||6'2"||260||4.88||1.65||19||33"||9'3"||4.5||7.39|
One thing which stands out when looking at these numbers is Whiteside, at least athletically, does not fit perfectly in any of the positions.
As an ILB he does compare athletically to Orie Lemon, but may be too heavy and step slow to really compete there. Add in the fact he has never played the position or been a defensive player who moves backwards and it could be a very steep learning curve.
As a OLB he is similar to both Bulter and Hamilton, but again, seems to be a little heavier and a step slower. Also of note is his relative low number of bench press reps.
As a DE he seems to have the quickness and explosion you are looking for, but lacks the height, weight and strength the Cowboys like at the position.
I can see why the Cowboys would move Whiteside to ILB where he may be able to push Orie Lemon for a roster spot. Whiteside is heavier but is just as fast and quick as Lemon. The one caveat is this, Lemon made the team based on his instincts and ability to be in the right spot at the right time. This is an area Whiteside will most definitely be lacking given his inexperience as a linebacker.
Lemon's biggest deficiency has been his ability to cover and play sideline to sideline, this will probably also be Whiteside's biggest deficiency early on in his development. The difference is Whiteside brings more upside as a rusher.
Whiteside will be one of the stories I will be following closely during OTA's and training camp. While at ACU he came in and immediately made an impact for a defense that was often over-matched. The table below are the stats from his four years at ACU.
While ACU does not play elite competition every week you cannot deny Whiteside was a play-maker. In 48 games he averaged 0.65 sacks and 1.2 tackles for loss per game. Despite being a shade under 6'2" Whiteside also managed to block an amazing 7 kicks during his career and forced 7 fumbles.
After seeing Whiteside play live while I was at ACU, I think he has the talent to play in the NFL, now the question will be what position?