(Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, 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 2016 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features linebacker Mark Nzeocha.)
Name: Mark Nzeocha
Experience: 1 season
Key stat: Nzeocha raises the Cowboys' international profile a bit, as he was born and raised in Ansbach, Germany, before accepting a scholarship at Wyoming.
Contract Status: Signed through 2018.
2015 Impact: Nzeocha tore his ACL in the seventh game of 2014 season while at Wyoming and wasn't ready until October 2015. He was finally placed on the active roster in November and played in two of the final three games on special teams. He lined up on special teams as the L5 on the kickoff team and right guard on the kickoff return. Nzeocha did a solid job as a blocker on the kickoff return. He worked well as a single blocker and on the double team, and he was able to stay with his man and deny from the ball. It's important to note that he did not play any defensive snaps. In college he was a wrap-up tackler in the hole. Flowed well to the ball. Athletic ability to work in and out of the hole. Showed the avoid blocks. Like the way that he played downhill. Attacked the ball. Nice job of finding it on the move. His effort to chase the play was outstanding. Plays with some balance when going down the line. Trouble when he gets hooked up. Has to do a better job of getting off the block. Showed the ability to play in space. Can change direction and take the back out of the backfield. Puts himself in position to cover. Love the way that he flies to the ball. Plays with pace and quickness. Can carry his man up the field in coverage.
Where He Fits: Coming out of Wyoming, I thought he had the ability to be a core special teamer and Will linebacker. The more I watch him play, have a feeling that they are going to use him more as a Sam. He will need to work on his technique getting off blocks, but he should be able to do that. He has the frame and now the time to add more weight and strength. He worked hard in the weight room while he was on the non-football injury list. I believe you will see some nice gains in this area and that will carry over into his play for the 2016 season.
David Helman: I was not convinced Mark Nzeocha's stay on the Cowboys roster was going to be a long one back when he was drafted. After all, he was taken in the seventh round and his availability to play was no certainty after an ACL injury. The guy taken a round before him, Laurence Gibson, didn't last through training camp. Fortunately for Nzeocha, he got to hang around on the Cowboys' NFI list and go through a full recovery before joining the 53-man roster. His contributions were minimal, but it was interesting to get an idea of what kind of role the coaching staff sees for him. By no means am I expecting Nzeocha to compete for a starting linebacker job, but he'll have a big opportunity to earn the fifth or sixth job on the roster. Based on the little we've seen, there's cause for optimism that he can be a core special teamer and a reserve defender.