The Cowboys have had recent success with undrafted rookies, with more than a handful winding up on the roster in each of the last two years.
Football analyst Bryan Broaddus has scouted more than 200 players who were eligible for the draft, so here’s his breakdown on some of the top players the Cowboys will sign in the next few days.
Name: Deon Lacey
College: West Alabama
Lacey is the third of the Cowboys’ rookie free agent linebacker signees. He also might be one of the most unheralded players reporting to practice in the coming week, as he hails from Division II and the Gulf South Conference with West Alabama.
Lacey helped the Tigers to the GSC championship in 2012, and he finished second on the team with 68 tackles, including a pair of sacks. He was an All-America selection in his 2011 and 2012 seasons, and he was named GSC Defensive Player of the Year in 2011.
The West Alabama program made a surprising amount of noise for a Division II program in free agency. Lacey was one of a trio of players to sign post-draft deals with NFL clubs.
Key Stat: Adding to his abilities as a tackler, Lacey broke up two passes, defended another three and nabbed an interception during his coverage duties last year. He tallied 97 tackles during his Defensive Player of the Year season, with two picks and four passes broken up.
Strengths: Outstanding quickness and speed. … Can really run. … Plays as a Will linebacker the majority of the time, but have seen him line up as a Mike as well. … Really does a nice job of finding the ball and getting in position to make the play. … Is able to work his way through the trash. … Really shows the quickness from the backside chasing the play. … Plays with a wiggle on the blitz. … Can avoid the block, then focus on the ball. … Can really close, which is maybe his best trait. … Good movement on the blitz. … Will bounce off blockers to get to the ball. … Despite his weight (229), he will take on blockers at the point. … Does not try to avoid. … Will hang in there. … Will stay square. … Can really cover some ground when he runs. … Can get to the outside quickly. … Reads fast. … Physical tackler. … Fit to play as a Will linebacker because of his ability to run. … Has a feel for how to blitz. … Outstanding chase of the ball.
Weakness: Looks like a strong safety on tape with his build (6-2, 229). … Upright backpedal. … Not much technique or understanding here of coverage. … Didn’t see him play anything other than zone. … Has quickness to be taught how to cover in man. … Needs to play with his hands better at times. … Fooled one time badly on the read option. … Had another play where he whiffed in the hole on a tackle. … Got caught inside on a block and ball went right by him.