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Mailbag: Game Changer On Defense? Ranking The Cowboys' Best Linebackers?

WILLIAM CASTILLEJAENTERPRISE

We always hear about the five best offensive linemen. What about the three best linebackers? Let's say Jaylon Smith surprises. Could it be Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith and Anthony Hitchens?

Bryan: Your list of guys is Lee, Smith and Hitchens. Two guys play the same position -- Hitchens and Smith are MIKE linebackers. If you are trying to play Hitchens at SAM that would be a mistake. He needs to play MIKE or WILL. He doesn't have the power to hang in there to play the run at the point. 

Rob: Anthony Hitchens is one of the more underrated players on this team. He's the second-best linebacker on this team after Sean Lee. Everyone's pulling for Jaylon Smith to get back on the field, but it'll be tough to unseat Hitchens. Damien Wilson was more and more productive as last season wore on. Just have to see if his off-the-field incident in July holds him back at all.

DANN LEESJACKSON, MO

I'm thrilled with all the new additions to the defense. However, I still don't see a player opposing teams will have to scheme against or who will strike fear in the heart of an offensive coordinator. Or am I wrong?

Bryan: You're correct but not every team has those types of players. This staff does a really nice job of scheming the players they have in order to play quality defense. They don't give up huge plays and they don't allow many points. Pass rush is mid-pack (ahead of Giants) and they find a way to create turnovers.

Rob: Sean Lee is a guy offenses have to concern themselves with from play to play, particularly in the run game. In the pass rush, no player has recorded double-digit sacks in their career. The Cowboys haven't had a player of that caliber since DeMarcus Ware, and those players are hard to find unless you have a top-10 draft pick because teams don't let them get away. The Taco Charlton pick was largely about upside – he was a one-year starter at Michigan who thrived once he moved to a 4-3 rush end role.

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