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Don’t Underestimate The Dallas Cowboys Linebackers

The True Value Of Jaylon Smith

The Dallas Cowboys have known for quite some time that they have a special player in linebacker Sean Lee. An athlete so dynamic that he can out-tackle the rest of the defense by himself. Football is too team-oriented for the outcome of a game to be determined by a single player. However, a player like Lee can cover a multitude of defensive weaknesses.

Give that Dallas defense one more player like Sean Lee, and suddenly the Cowboys D becomes (dare I say it) really good. This is what a linebacker such as Jaylon Smith potentially provides. There is a reason why chatter has surrounded the injured Cowboy since the day he was drafted. The impact he could bring to the Dallas defense cannot be overstated. He would be a Swiss army knife for the Cowboys. Creating issues for offenses league-wide.

Lateral Quickness

Sean Lee is everywhere on the field (145 tackles in 2016). His ability to laterally chase down defenders is a force to be reckoned with. Lateral quickness is one of linebacker Jaylon Smith’s greatest attributes. Not only does Smith have quickness, he has speed. Smith played running back in high school, running for 1250 yards his senior season. Although he is 240 pounds, Smith moves like a safety. He also isn’t afraid of making plays in the open field (only 9 missed tackles in 130 attempts his Jr. year at Notre Dame.)

Cover Skills

  During his combine interview in 2016 (which he was unable to perform in due to injury), Smith was asked if he would drop into the secondary and play Strong Safety. Smith replied yes without even hesitating. Some may call that cockiness, I call it self-awareness. The 2nd year linebacker has the fluidity of a defensive back, the athleticism of a running back, and the build of a linebacker.

  Pair a linebacker of Smith’s athleticism with one as intelligent as Sean Lee, and you have a strong anchor in the middle of your field. Hopefully the presence of Smith can ultimately benefit Lee in terms of takeaways. Offenses are more likely to make a mistake if they have two relentless linebackers to block instead of just one. Another name I have yet to mention is Anthony Hitchens. One thing I really like about Hitchens is that he is always around the ball. He just has a good feel for the game of football, and his instincts serve him right. Also, the more talented linebackers you put around Hitchens, the less you have to ask of him to do. Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee would help make Hitchens a more efficient and productive player.

Versatility Throughout The Defense

Jaylon Smith’s diverse skillset allows him to play from various positions on the field. He can stick his hand in the ground and rush the quarterback from the defensive line. Or you can ask him to  play in the box as a traditional linebacker. However, one of his most impressive assets is his ability to play outside the defensive tackles. A fair chunk of his snaps at Notre Dame were played outside the tackles, covering the slot receivers in the open field. This versatility would allow the Cowboys to substitute less in passing situations. Why burn a timeout or rush a nickel corner onto the field when you can simply ask Smith to bump out a few yards and cover whoever is in front of him?

  A Solid Linebacker Corp

Smith’s presence can benefit the rest of the defense, taking some weight off of Sean Lee’s shoulders. Suddenly, a defensive unit that has struggled in seasons prior has something to be proud of, a great linebacker squad. The trio of Lee, Smith, and an ever-improving Hitchens can give Dallas something to hang their cowboy hats on.



Staff writer and podcast host covering the Dallas Cowboys | Spreading my slightly biased sports opinions with anyone wise enough to listen.

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