Editor's Note: Throughout the offseason, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players' impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2014 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features linebacker DeVonte Holloman.
Name: DeVonte Holloman
Experience: 1 season
College: South Carolina
Key stat: Holloman made two sacks and recorded double-digit tackles in the season finale against the Eagles.
Contract Status: Signed through 2016.
2013 Impact: DeVonte Holloman is the type of player that makes the draft fun. When you are getting in those late rounds and you have to opportunity to take a player or two that might have a trait that really works in your scheme or you saw a player that can bring a little something different to your special teams. What was interesting about Holloman is that in college he was a converted strong safety than grew into a linebacker or what they called at South Carolina a "Spur," which required him to be around the line of scrimmage quite a bit. What was very clear the minute that he arrived in Dallas, was his ability to be around the ball. For a rookie, he showed an outstanding nose for the ball and a keen awareness for where he needed to be in the scheme. What was a smart move by this coaching staff in training camp was playing him at the MIKE in some nickel packages because when Sean Lee was done for the season after the Bears game, it was a natural fit for Holloman to slide in that spot from the work, he got earlier in the summer. In the middle, Holloman looked comfortable in his movements and when he was required to take on blockers, I thought he played with extension and shed. There were a couple of plays where he got caught inside against the run and others where he was a tick late in putting himself in position to defend the ball but for a rookie, he was more than up to the task of getting the job done. His game against the Eagles to end the season was outstanding and I thought he also showed some versatility as a blitzer in that game with the two sacks.
Where He Fits: There is a couple of different directions that the front office and coaches can go with Holloman going forward. You can have him compete at the SAM linebacker with Kyle Wilber and Justin Durant or you can keep him at MIKE as a backup to Sean Lee and let him continue to play on special teams. I believe that they will let him battle at the SAM in a hope to get him on the field fulltime. It was a shame that he missed those games for a six week period with the neck injury that he [embedded_ad] suffered in practice because if he had not, I believe that he would have been your starter at SAM and we might not be having this discussion.
Rowan Kavner: The ball or big play always seemed to find Holloman in the preseason, and while a neck injury held Holloman out for a significant portion of the season, that big play ability appeared again at the end of the regular season. Holloman could wind up being a starter in just his second season if he can fill in at strong side linebacker. His special teams ability will keep him around, but I think he provided more as a linebacker than most people predicted from the sixth-round pick the minute he stepped foot on the field. He'll have to stay healthier after playing just nine games his rookie season, but Holloman's upside appears to be among the best of the 2013 draft class. He progressed throughout the year and saved his best for last in the Cowboys' season finale with two sacks against the Eagles.