By Adam Collins
With Anthony Hitchens saying goodbye to Big D for KC this morning, I will explore a few options the Dallas Cowboys have for the linebacker position. Hitchens is going to be a tough one to replace, but if you ask me, he definitely wasn’t worth the $9M Kansas City is going to pay him. In 2017, Hitch played 12 games and had 84 tackles (55 solo, 29 ast), 1 forced fumble, and 1 INT.
We were all amazed last season by the Jaylon Smith story, but will he be able to step up and play starting MLB minutes next season? In 2017, Smith played in 16 games (started 6) and had 2 forced fumbles, 1 sack, and 81 tackles (50 solo, 31 ast). Jaylon’s comeback story is truly remarkable and his nerve wasn’t even firing 100% last season… I think Jaylon can take this step to the next level and start for the Dallas Cowboys at LB, but it sure won’t hurt to find more depth at this position this offseason.
Sign FA Zach Brown or another FA LB
Zach Brown is a LB who played for the Washington Redskins in 2017. Brown is a free agent this offseason and isn’t expected to re-sign with the Skins. He is an OLB so he might not be the best fit at MLB, but he could certainly add some much-needed depth to the Cowboys LB room. Brown put up better numbers than Hitchens in 2017 with 13 games played, 2.5 sacks, and 127 tackles (84 solo, 43 ast). He’s not asking for as much money as Hitchens did so I really hope the Cowboys can get a reasonable deal done with Zach Brown. If we can’t sign Brown, I hope that we can sign another LB in this free agent class.
Draft a LB
Again, I still think Smith is the play at MLB, but drafting a LB with the 19th pick might not be a bad move if certain names fall. The only LB’s I can see worth using the Cowboys 1st round pick on would be Roquan Smith (Georgia) or Tremaine Edmunds (VT). You may tell me I left out some names, but those are the best 2 LB’s in the draft and if they’re gone at pick #19, which they’re almost 100% guaranteed to be, then I can’t see the Cowboys using their first pick on a LB. However, I would like to see the Cowboys draft a LB at some point in the draft. 2nd or 3rd round might be a good spot to pull the trigger on a linebacker.
My prediction for the Cowboys 2018 starting linebackers:
SLB – Damien Wilson
MLB – Jaylon Smith
WLB – Sean Lee
Hitchens will certainly be missed, but I ultimately believe that Jaylon Smith will be a star in this league in a few years and I think that he can easily produce as much as Hitch did in 2017 if not more.
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