Position Series: LB Seemingly Not High Priority

Just two years after the Cowboys had already drafted Dexter Coakley in the third round, they figured they would try their linebacker luck again in the third round, disregarding size once again. In 1999, the Cowboys drafted Dat Nguyen (5-11, 238), another undersized playmaker who starred for Texas A&M. With Coakley (5-10, 230) already on the team, critics started wondering out loud just how many smaller linebackers the Cowboys could come up with. That even prompted former scouting director Larry Lacewell to fire back, "We're not drafting players here to change light bulbs." As it turned out, Coakley made the first of his three Pro Bowl appearances in 1999, and after battling injuries early in his career, Nguyen developed into a steady defensive player, leading the team in tackles three out of four seasons from 2001-04. In fact, Nguyen's 172 tackles in 2001 is the third-highest in club history. A neck injury in 2005 cut Nguyen's career short, but he re-joined the Cowboys last season as one of Wade Phillips' first hires to his new coaching staff. Nguyen enters his second season as the Cowboys' assistant linebackers/defensive quality control coach.
--Nick Eatman

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