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Mailbag: How Do You Approach Needs At LB?

Posted Feb 28, 2014

IVAN KOVALENKO
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

Why did we draft a safety in the third round and let an undrafted Jeff Heath continue to start after J.J. Wilcox was healthy? Heath had his obvious struggles against the pass and was poor against runners in the open field. Was this a pick that we're going to regret?
 
Nick: Isn’t that first question pretty obvious? I mean, the Cowboys obviously thought Heath was better than Wilcox, at least towards the end of the year. We remember some rough outings by Heath, but Wilcox had his share of troubles, too. I think Wilcox will be much better this year, but it’ll probably be a nice battle in training camp.  
 
Rowan: The Cowboys knew they were getting a project when they drafted Wilcox, a safety from a small school who’d only played the position in college for one season. He still looks like he has the physical tools to develop into a potential starter. They trusted Heath on the back end more than the other options, but that doesn’t mean they’ve given up on Wilcox or that the third-round pick won’t be the starter come this season.
 
BRADY SILVESTER
ROY, UT

I know Sean Lee is a star and all, but why don't the Cowboys go after D’Qwell Jackson via free agency or draft Buffalo’s Khalil Mack? The past two seasons, when Lee went down, the defense was terrible. Why not bring in a serviceable back up?
 

Nick: Ok, those guys aren’t backups. To get them, you have to pay. That’s the risk all teams deal with. How do you get yourself quality backups at affordable prices? I think the way to go here is develop Holloman as a backup linebacker and nickel-team backer. Then if Lee goes down, you’re not switching a lot of positions. And it doesn’t sound like Mack will be around past the first handful of picks.
 
Rowan: I think linebacker, and even inside linebacker, is still a viable choice for the Cowboys. Jerry Jones made it sound like they’d consider middle and weak side linebackers early on in the draft. Worst case scenario, they can shift Lee to the weak side if they have to, although they’d probably like to keep him in the middle after getting a year’s experience of it, serving as one of the few playmakers in this defense last year. Linebacker is still very much an option in the draft and potentially free agency. 

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