I thought I'd do a comparison over the past 30+ years to the current Cowboys most likely to start in September at LB. Let me share my thoughts here... over the past several weeks there's been some discussion over the prototype LB in a Kiffin 4-3 compared with a Ryan 3-4. The LB positions are different and therefore the LB personnel will be a bit different.
As we've seen, both Sean Lee and Bruce Carter who were ILB's in the Ryan 3-4 are pretty close to the prototypical 4-3 LB anyway and will transition well to the 4-3. OLB is the big difference and they can transition well to 4-3 DE's. Since Ware/Spencer do not carry TE's or Receivers well past 10 yards anyway it makes sense so we don't see plays like this anymore.
Listed below you will see the comparison I did.
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||2002||73||237||78||3||6|
As you can see the average including the 2013 Cowboys is 6'2" (74"), 236lbs, drafted 48th overall, in the 2nd round, with 4 years of experience. You can place the names here, all these teams won championships and most of them were the #1 ranked defense during the regular season as well.
I think what this does show is how important all 3 positions are and I'm sure you can think of some other 4-3 linebacker groups that could be added into this comparison too, i.e. Steelers in the 70's, Saints in the 90's. Despite the difference in eras the teams have one thing in common - the Mike has to anticipate the run/pass and be able to cover a lot of ground, the Will or Sam has to be able to carry a TE up the field more than 10 yards. I think you can put names to some of these LB's who were able to do that.
For the 2013 Cowboys I used Justin Durant as the Sam LB.