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Cowboys news: Let’s talk about linebackers, an under-discussed Cowboys need

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NFL: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Mailbag: How Big Of A Need Is LB? - David Helman, Johnny Auping, The Mothership

Linebacker is a need that sometimes gets forgot about.

I realize this is probably the uncommon view, but why is Dallas not associated with any of the Top 5-6 LB’s in the draft? Seems CB, WR, OL is very deep, so why wouldn’t Dallas use at a minimum a Day 2 pick on an LB? — ROBERT FERGUSON / CARROLLTON, TX

David: COVID restrictions have made it harder for us to tell who the Cowboys are linked to, but I think you’re mistaken if you don’t think this staff is working on linebackers. The long-term future of the position looks very uncertain right now, and this is an impressive class of linebackers coming out. Maybe they won’t draft one at No. 10 overall, but I absolutely think they’re going to draft a linebacker – and perhaps as early as Day 2, just as you suggested.

Jonny: I think there’s definitely validity to your point. Considering Jaylon’s inconsistent play, Vander Esch’s injuries, and Sean Lee’s age, I don’t think there’s any doubt that an excellent addition at linebacker would improve the team. One problem is that the Cowboys are sort of sitting in no man’s land with the position at the No. 10 pick. I think Micah Parsons would be a great player for the Cowboys to have, but I don’t know that he justifies the No. 10 pick when you might be able to get an All-Pro OT or CB there. It seems unlikely Parsons makes it to Day 2 of the draft, but I would certainly hope the Cowboys would take him in the second round if possible.

Is Penn State LB Micah Parsons A Real Possibility For The Cowboys At 10? - Kevin Brady, Inside the Star

Speaking of linebackers, there is one player in the draft who could help solve the problem in the first round.

If there was one common complaint from Cowboys Nation during 2020, it was about this team’s starting linebackers.

Once a fan favorite comeback story, Jaylon Smith has become the main character of Cowboys football woes. He’s often out of position, takes bad angles, and seems to lack hustle at times in the eyes of the fanbase.

Then there’s former first round pick Leighton Vander Esch, who simply cannot stay healthy, and his future in football due to his shoulder/neck injuries should rightfully be questioned at least a bit.

This all leaves the Cowboys with a lot of money tied up at linebacker, but really nothing to show for it on the field. Linebacker has become a need for Dallas seemingly overnight, and one first round prospect is putting himself back in the conversation for the Cowboys in the first round.

Penn State’s Micah Parsons, that is.

Parsons had a monster Pro Day (who hasn’t?), and made sure to hype himself up afterwards. Parsons said that he knows he’s the “most versatile” player in the class, with the ability to play each linebacker spot and rush the passer.

SportsDay’s NFL draft guide: Cowboys storylines and targets, area prospects, and more - Calvin Watkins, DMN

It's hard to get away from these three names when it comes to the Cowboys’ 10th overall pick.

Patrick Surtain II, Jaycee Horn and Caleb Farley are the top three cornerbacks in this draft.

“I feel like I’m the best defensive player in the draft,” said Horn, a South Carolina corner whose dad was former NFL receiver Joe Horn. “I’m versatile. I got the size. I got the speed, athletic, I faced every receiver body type from Kyle Pitts (Florida) to Elijah Moore (Mississippi) to DeVonta Smith (Alabama). I feel like I’m the best cornerback in the draft.”

Helping Horn’s stock was a dynamic pro day where he ran a blazing 4.39 40 and produced a vertical jump of 41.5 inches.

Surtain is equally talented. He was the 2020 SEC Defensive Player of the Year and he displayed his speed (4.46 40) and strength (18 bench reps at 225 pounds) at Alabama’s pro day. Surtain looks more physical than Horn and that could be the difference between the two players.

Is Surtain a better man-to-man corner than Horn? He said his patience and poise at the line makes him good at man coverage.

“I’m very fundamental when it comes to press,” Surtain said. “Eyes on the hips, feet and hands. Just patience at the line of scrimmage just forcing the receiver to release and dictate where he’s going to go.”

Farley from Virginia Tech is an outstanding corner, too, but he recently underwent back surgery, raising questions about his availability for training camp.

Agent Drew Rosenhaus said Farley should be ready by the end of July and isn’t too concerned about the surgery.

Every NFL Team’s Best Draft Pick of the Past Decade - Kristopher Knox, Bleacher Report

The best draft pick for the Cowboys over the last ten years? Some would say Dak Prescott.

Quarterback Dak Prescott had stiff competition, as recent Dallas Cowboys draft picks Zack Martin, Ezekiel Elliott and Leighton Vander Esch have been fantastic. Prescott, however, plays the most important position in the game and has done so at a high level.

Picked in the fourth round of the 2016 draft, Prescott immediately stepped in for the injured Tony Romo. He started all 16 games and was named Offensive Rookie of the Year.

The Cowboys haven’t looked back.

Prescott is a two-time Pro Bower and was leading the NFL with 1,856 passing yards when he suffered a season-ending broken ankle in Week 5 last season. While Dallas was fortunate Prescott was available, it made a great pick by selecting the Mississippi State product and has a franchise quarterback because of it.

Rule proposal will give kicking team a better chance to recover onside kicks - Michael David Smith, PFT

A proposed rule change is aimed at making the onside kick more viable. Guess they haven’t heard about the Watermelon Kick.

Since the NFL changed the kickoff rules to prohibit a running start by the kicking team, onside kicks have become much less successful. A new rule proposal aims to change that.

The proposed rule would require the receiving team to have no more than nine players lined up in the “setup zone,” which is defined as the area between 10 and 25 yards from the spot of the kickoff.

Currently, NFL teams always put either 10 or 11 players in the setup zone when they’re expecting the opposing team to onside kick. According to the NFL’s tracking data, receiving teams expecting an onside kick line up with 10 players in the setup zone 87 percent of the time, and all 11 players in the setup zone the other 13 percent of the time.

With only nine players in the setup zone, fewer players on the receiving team will be in a position to recover the onside kick, and the kicking team will have a better chance to get to the ball. The NFL is also considering the fourth-and-15 alternative to the onside kick, but regardless of whether that rule passes, this rule would make onside kicks more viable.

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