(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 2013 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features linebacker Caleb McSurdy.)
Name: Caleb McSurdy
Height/Weight: 6-2 / 255
Experience: 1 season
Contract Status: Signed through 2014.
How He Played In 2012: Before the 2012 NFL Draft, I sat down and was able to study a little Caleb McSurdy tape from Montana because I was looking for a player that might be one of those types that had some traits at the end of the draft that would have some value as a backup at a position or a core special teamer. With McSurdy I didn't see the most athletic player or one that played with a great burst but I did see a guy that played with awareness and had a nose for the ball. He was physical when he took on blocks and he carried that over when he tackled ball carriers. In the chances he got in Oxnard it was pretty clear that what I observed on tape as far as the athletic ability I was spot on as compared to the other linebackers.
Where McSurdy really needed work was how quickly he was trying to read scheme and there were times where he was a step late but for rookie linebackers this is not an uncommon situation, I remember Bruce Carter having some of the same problems but totally different with the athletic ability. I have to be honest that during camp, even before his injury, the personnel man in me was trying to figure out ways to get him on the practice squad because I just didn't see the development during the practices that I thought I might have seen. With the way the season played out, if McSurdy would have made it to the practice squad, he would have been called into action at some point in the season and as good as it was for him to have gotten that experience, I really don't think he would have been ready and that quite possibly could have hurt him down the road confidence wise.
Where He Fits: The way that Monte Kiffin plays this 4-3 scheme, he wants linebackers that can run and cover ground. I see him in the role as a Mike but I do worry about the foot quickness and how that position is used in coverage. I don't have any questions of the physical or mental part of the game for the player but there is so much this Mike linebacker is asked to do and the question is can he handle that as an athlete? I mentioned, the core special teams role and maybe there will be an opportunity there but what I know about new special teams coach Rich Bisaccia he has always had linebackers on his cover teams that can really run. He tends to go with the lighter, smaller guys that can cover ground. Every day I pass by the weight room, McSurdy is in there working hard to get himself ready for whatever role they have for him. It's going to be an uphill climb for him but he does have some positive traits and when you are looking to draft a player late, that's all you are trying to find.
Nick Eatman:There was a time when I thought McSurdy was going to be a nice fit for this team, especially on special [embedded_ad]
teams. And although an Achilles injury is pretty tough to overcome, I don't think there is a reason to change that initial view. McSurdy has good instincts and seems to have a good understanding of the game and more importantly, his position. And playing in a 4-3 scheme might be even easier for him. As long as he can return to full strength and play fast, although he might not have great straight-line speed, McSurdy could realistically compete for a significant role in 2013.