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Mailbag: Who Is The Favorite At Strong Side LB?


What are the chances Orie Lemon and/or DeVonte Holloman step up into a starting role at linebacker this year? It seems like both guys have a lot of talent and a knack for getting their hands on the football.

Rowan: There's a much greater chance for the latter player to earn a starting job. Holloman started at the end of last season after a plethora of injuries to the linebackers and had his best game of the year in the finale. You could tell from his playmaking ability at the start of training camp that Holloman could wind up being a starter, and he'll compete to do so at strong side linebacker.

David: I'm interested to see how reality matches expectation in regard to Holloman. He played a fantastic game in the loss to Philadelphia, and he is widely expected to take a step up. But as of right now, Justin Durant is still on the roster, Kyle Wilber will likely be in the mix, and you have a point, Lemon may be given an opportunity as well. Holloman's potential is promising, but he will definitely have to earn any job he gets.

Considering the Cowboys' salary cap woes and the current players in need of contract extensions, isn't the most likely scenario for Dallas to trade out of the first round?

Rowan:I think there's an equal chance they stay put and move back, depending on which players go early. I'd be surprised if they moved up and dealt one of their early to mid-round picks. They've moved around a lot in the first round in recent years, but they had success staying put with Tyron Smith in [embedded_ad] 2011. I imagine a player that can help immediately will be available for them at 16, but if their top targets are gone and a bunch of starting caliber quarterbacks are still on the board, I could see a trade back.

David: I see what you're getting at, but it isn't an issue that should affect the Cowboys in regard to their draft options. Thanks to the recent CBA, rookie contracts are much more manageable than they used to be. The No. 16 pick in last year's draft, quarterback E.J. Manuel, counted roughly $1.6 million against the salary cap last year. In this day and age, a first-round pick isn't going to break the bank, regardless of where he's selected.

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