Over the next two weeks, dallascowboys.com dives deeper into the talented group of undrafted rookies that will battle for a roster spot this offseason.
- Name: Francis Bernard
- Position: Linebacker
- School: Utah
- Height/Weight: 6-1/234lbs
- Awards & Recognition: Senior Bowl Participant, First Team All-Pac-12, Two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week (BYU, WSU)
The Good: One of the two best coverage linebackers in the Pac-12 along with fourth round pick Troy Dye (Oregon). 11 coverage stops last season was good enough for a top 50 grade and his nose for the football is something that will translate quickly to the NFL. Bernard's ability to turn and accelerate towards a ball-carrier increases his ability to cover tight ends or slot receivers. He diagnoses plays quickly and makes good reads on the football. His fluid movement makes up for his lack of athleticism and allows him to make a massive impact against the passing game.
The Project: One of the oldest prospects in the class, and it shows (for good and bad) on the field. Off-the-field issues forced a transfer from BYU to Utah and ripped away a year of eligibility. Something that helped his improvement in college but heavily dropped his draft stock. Struggles with a lack of length that is apparent in his game with more than a few missed tackles against West Coast competition. Running downhill is not his strong suit, gets picked up by linemen in the second level far too quickly making his susceptible in run defense.
The Summary: A coverage heavy linebacker that's still learning the position after making the switch from running back as a sophomore. Bernard was a featured part of one of the best defenses in college football along with Cowboys' fifth-rounder Bradlee Anae and other 2020 draft picks like Terrell Burgess and Leki Fotu. His length and lack of athleticism will each be obstacles to overcome as a rookie, but some 'draft experts' had Bernard as a Top-200 player in the class which makes his signing a steal. There is no doubt that he's an NFL ready linebacker that can not only make a roster, but an impact as well despite his multiple limitations.
The Cowboys have a rich history in signing undrafted rookies from Drew Pearson to Tony Romo. Check out this year's group of 15 rookie free agents that have agreed to terms.