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Roster Rundown: Kyle Wilber Might Have Found Home At LB
Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players’ impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2014 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features linebacker Kyle Wilber.)
Name: Kyle Wilber
Height/Weight: 6-4 / 250
Experience: 2 seasons
College: Wake Forest
Key stat: After starting the season as a backup defensive end, Wilber finished the year with six starts, including four at outside linebacker. Wilber led the team with two fumble recoveries.
Contract Status:Signed through 2015.
2013 Impact: There are days in scouting where you fall right into a player that becomes a good scheme fit when you had absolutely no idea where you were going to play him. Kyle Wilber was this player in 2013 for this front office and coaching staff. Wilber was drafted to play as an outside linebacker in Rob Ryan’s 3-4 scheme but that opportunity was short lived and with the arrival of Monte Kiffin and his 4-3 look, Wilber was a man without a position. At Wake Forest, Wilber had played both as a linebacker and defensive end, but he was on the weak side. There were times during our days in Oxnard where out of need, Wilber was placed on the strong side and really struggled playing the run at the point of attack and he was having problems rushing the passer, which was one of his better traits. Once George Selvie started to develop on that left side, Wilber was put back on the right side and in a home game against the Redskins stepped into the game to fill in for the injured DeMarcus Ware and battled Trent Williams toe-to-toe, even recording a key sack late in the game to give his team the ball inside the Washington five yard line. Wilber made some more injury starts at defensive end before making the move to SAM linebacker after the bye in a game against the Giants. Wilber didn’t start that game because the defense opened the game in nickel but for the game, he was 3rd on the team in tackles with seven. He was outstanding at the point of attack that night and played the game with surprising awareness and power. He was able to get off blocks and in the red zone, was a force. Wilber kept his job at SAM the remainder of the season and ended up with 42 tackles, two sacks, two fumble recoveries and 14 quarterback pressures.
Where He Fits:Depending how things shake out at the SAM linebacker spot, he will be in the mix for the starter at that spot. There will most likely be some thought by the staff of allowing him to compete withDeVonte Holloman for the job but there could also be some consideration of keeping Holloman at the backup MIKE to work with Sean Lee who has not been cleared with his neck issue. Justin Durant is also under contract for the season and did not play poorly. What Wilber has shown is that he can be a reliable player at the SAM but also put his hand down and have some value as a nickel rusher. For a player that going into the season without much hope or value as a defensive contributor, these coaches had the patience to work with him, find a spot and now reward them for their belief in him.
Nick Eatman: One of the reasons the linebacker position is rather difficult to evaluate moving forward is because of players like Wilber. Also DeVonte Holloman is in that group. But the way those guys played down the stretch gives you some hope that one, if not both, will be able to at least compete for a starting gig next year. Give Wilber an entire offseason trying to learn the outside linebacker spot and he might have found a spot. Don’t forget he spent last year beefing up to play defensive end. So Wilber will likely work on toning his body down somewhat to be quicker and faster for an outside linebacker spot. I wouldn’t think you pass up on a great linebacker in the draft because of Wilber, but I don’t think you have to say it’s a glaring need either.