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Mailbag: Favorite Roster Long Shot? LB Shuffle?


There's always an outside bet to ma e the roster that everyone is pulling for each year. Who do you think is going to fit that role this year and why? — JASON MHOR / FIFE, AL

David: There's no denying that the challenge looks steep for Simi Fehoko. The receiver room is absolutely loaded with talent, and Fehoko was a sixth-round pick – which certainly doesn't guarantee him a roster spot. Still, guys with Fehoko's combo of size and speed are hard to find, and there's no pressure on him to deliver right away due to the loaded depth chart. I'm very curious to see if he can live up to the post-draft hype.

Nick: I really have three guys at the end of the draft that could fall into this category. I've made it known how much I like Quinton Bohanna and it seems like the Cowboys feel the same way. I really think he's going to make this team. But the two picks after that are guys I'm pulling for as well. I think Israel Mukuamu has a chance to be something special. He's the only safety in the draft class and his coverage skills make him unique, if he can show that he's instinctive and tough enough to play safety. And then don't forget about seventh-round pick Matt Farniok. The fact he played all five positions at some point at Nebraska makes him a valuable player to keep around.

The Cowboys have three first-round linebackers, but they seem to be scheming themselves into cutting one after the season. Why not get all three on the field on first and second down and then sub as necessary on third? If all three are playing to their potential, you risk having to franchise Leighton already. Do they think that poorly of Jaylon? He was bound to have an off year with a new defense, a position switch and the lack of practice. — VINCENT RICHARDSON / MOBILE, AL

David: For starters, I've got to say I don't love the idea of playing with three linebackers as often as you're suggesting. As talented as these guys are, they're not going to have fun if they're consistently matching up against 11 personnel. That's why modern defenses play so much nickel and dime – to combat the speed of opposing receivers. On top of that, I also don't love the idea that one of the highest-paid players on the team was "bound to have an off year." That definitely doesn't inspire confidence. The Cowboys didn't feel good about the long-term outlook of the position, and they took steps to address it. Don't blame them for that.

Nick: I don't know if it's really about thinking poorly of one player or another. It just comes down to what the Cowboys can count on at linebacker and right now, it's hard to count on anything. Can LVE stay healthy? Can Jaylon be a Pro Bowl player again? Can Micah Parsons step right in and be an impact player. Can Keanu Neal make the transition to linebacker in this scheme. All of those things sound logical and possible but the Cowboys have to keep all options open. I think you'll see a variety of combinations with these linebackers because both Parsons and Smith can rush the passer, especially off the edge. So we will see them in roles that we haven't seen before. It's hard to put a finger on it right now but I promise you the Cowboys will utilize these linebackers and get a much better idea what they can do ... long before they have to make decisions on them next year.

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