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Cowboys news: Rookie linebacker Jabril Cox is predicted to have a big future in Dallas

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Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Film room: Why Dallas Cowboys LB Jabril Cox will become a starter by 2023 - John Owning, DMN

The Cowboys fourth-round pick is predicted to have a big future.

As a part of a Dallas Cowboys draft class that included Micah Parsons, it’s easy to understand why rookie fourth-round pick Jabril Cox has been overshadowed a bit since arriving in Dallas.

Despite what Dak Prescott may fool you into believing, fourth-round picks usually don’t amount to much in the NFL. Pro Football Focus released a data study in February that revealed that fourth-round linebackers have about a 35% chance of becoming starting-caliber contributors at some point in their careers.

While those odds are long, I feel confident that Cox will beat those odds thanks to a progressive skill set that will have him starting by 2023.

Look around the NFL and you will see that the prevailing body type for linebackers has changed. The 6-foot-4, 250-pound downhill thumpers have given way to the 6-foot-2, 230-pound athletes who can make plays sideline-to-sideline and, most importantly, thrive in coverage.

Dallas Cowboys 53-man roster prediction (Youth and Potential Edition) - Reid Hanson, Sport DFW

A full look at the Cowboys roster.

Dallas Cowboys Offense

Quarterback (3) Dak Prescott, Garrett Gilbert, Davis Webb

Obviously Dak Prescott is locked and loaded as QB1 on the 2021 roster. He’s healed up and ready to rock and roll for training camp. And as we discussed a couple weeks ago, medical studies show a broken bone isn’t more likely to break again than an unbroken bone. In other words, we don’t have to worry about Dak suddenly becoming injury prone.

Garrett Gilbert gets the QB2 job simply because he’s the most capable. He’s not an exciting developmental prospect to groom, but he’s stable and in his prime so he gets the nod.

Where things get interesting is at QB3 (aka the developmental spot). One of the deepest QB rooms in the NFL is in Buffalo. Josh Allen, Mitch Trubisky, and Jake Fromm are all positioned above former third round pick, Davis Webb. This makes Webb a potential roster casualty this autumn and someone the Dallas Cowboys should keep an eye on.

Dak Prescott: These three Cowboys are ‘most important, if you ask me’ - Todd Archer, ESPN

Dallas’ QB1 gives his trifecta.

For all of the Cowboys’ offensive glitz — Prescott, running back Ezekiel Elliott and wide receivers Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb — they will not be the same without Smith, Martin and Collins, who combined to miss 36 games in a lost 6-10 season in 2020.

Smith played in two games before undergoing season-ending neck surgery. Martin missed a career-high six games because of a concussion and calf injury. Collins did not play at all because of hip surgery.

Because of their significance to the Cowboys’ line, all three were held out of the competitive drills in the offseason program. Instead, they worked mostly off to the side with the Cowboys’ strength and conditioning staff. They lined up in drills that did not have an opposing defensive line, working on their pass sets and footwork.

Five Cowboys players who are lost in the weeds - Tom Ryle, Blogging the Boys

A look at players who may end up sneaking into a bigger role.

Dorance Armstrong

In his three years, Armstrong really hasn’t shown as much as hoped. In his own contract year, he is often named as a veteran who is at great risk of not making the roster at all.

But wait a minute. Last year, Armstrong had more tackles than any defensive lineman except DeMarcus Lawrence and now-departed Aldon Smith. Randy Gregory would have surpassed him with a full schedule, but Armstrong is competing to be the third EDGE on the depth chart. He already may be, and having a visibly hands-on coach like Quinn may help him greatly. It is also possible that the chaos under Mike Nolan also depressed his production.

His main competition look to be Bradlee Anae, who basically was unused all last year, free agent Tarell Basham, and rookie Chauncey Golston. If the Cowboys do carry five EDGE rushers this year, then Armstrong could be in good shape, and not buried all that far down.

Where do the Dallas Cowboys have a position surplus? - Angel Torres, The Landry Hat

The Cowboys have certainly stocked up at linebacker.

Linebackers

The Dallas Cowboys appear to be really long at the linebacker position. If I am making an educated guess, rookie first-round pick Micah Parsons looks like he will be the opening day starter at middle linebacker. Leighton Vander Esch, who is playing for a payday, will likely be the team’s starter on the weak side while a reduced role on the strong side for Jaylon Smith appears to be his best fit.

Whenever teams pull a linebacker in favor of an extra defensive back, the strong-side linebacker is usually the odd man out. This is not a jab but I believe a little less Jaylon can go a long way.

The backups at those three positions are also a cluster that has to be untangled before training camp is over. Keanu Neal is a converted safety so his role will likely be as the backup weakside linebacker or spy while Jaylon Smith will get the bulk of his reps in the middle as the strong-side linebacker is looking like the next lost position in the NFL

How Secure is Cowboys WR Noah Brown’s Roster Spot? - Jess Haynie, Inside the Star

Brown may get caught up in the shuffle of the Cowboys’ great pass-catchers.

A 7th-round pick in 2017, Noah is already a success story just for making an NFL roster and making it to his fifth season. To have spent all of this time with the same team so far, especially getting a second contract, is something a late-round pick can only hope for when entering the league.

Brown has stuck around thanks primarily to his special teams work. Though never a big factor in the passing game, Noah has made some good plays on his rare targets and has always been a solid blocker.

Noah has managed to provide enough value to cling to the bottom of the WR depth chart. He’s been given a chance to do it again in 2021, but it may be a bit more complicated now.

We all know who the top-three receivers are in Dallas. Beyond them, Cedrick Wilson feels like a lock as the fourth WR given his experience and extra value as a return specialist.

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