Pick & Role: From College QB To LB, Covington Has Chance To Earn Spot

FRISCO, Texas– Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones gave us all a hint two days before the draft when he said the team could select a couple of linebackers by the end of the three-day event.

Leighton Vander Esch got all the attention as the 19thoverall pick, but the Cowboys indeed added a second linebacker – Indiana's Chris Covington – with their first of two selections in the sixth round.

Jones' reasoning is sound: The Cowboys need numbers at a high-impact position, particularly without free-agent departures Anthony Hitchens (Chiefs) and Kyle Wilber (Raiders).

Covington is the type of prospect teams value late in the draft – a potential special teams contributor with traits to potentially develop into a rotation guy at linebacker.

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Covington hasn't always been a linebacker. He stepped on Indiana's campus in 2014 as a quarterback.

He played in five games on offense before he suffered a season-ending injury that freshman season. The next spring he moved to linebacker, and by the end of his senior year he earned All-Big Ten honorable mention honors with 85 tackles (12 for loss), 3 sacks and 5 pass breakups.

Covington is a big linebacker (6-2, 245) who plays faster than timed speed (4.78-second 40-yard dash time at the Combine) and can cover some ground. But with only three years' experience at linebacker, he'll likely need time to continue learning its nuances.

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We know Sean Lee is the defensive quarterback from the WILL (weak side) linebacker spot. Vander Esch and second-year pro Jaylon Smith can play the MIKE (middle). Free-agent signing Joe Thomas and Damien Wilson can replace some of Kyle Wilber's work at the SAM (strong side).

Like Justin March-Lillard did last year, Covington will have to earn a spot on special teams and be available to fill in at linebacker spots where needed. March-Lillard appeared in seven games last year, all on special teams, and is likely Covington's primary competition.

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