Dallas Cowboys Draft: 5 Best Linebackers in each round

Jaylon Smith #54 and Leighton Vander Esch #55 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Jaylon Smith #54 and Leighton Vander Esch #55 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /
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Troy Dye, Linebacker (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Troy Dye, Oregon

Round Grade: 4th round

Value: Reach

Percent Available: 100%

This linebacker class has some fun players. Unfortunately, most of them are off the board at this point. Dye would probably be the last linebacker prospect with a healthy mix of athleticism and production.

The four-year starter has amassed 391 total tackles, 41.5 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, 14 pass deflections, and 5 interceptions. I still have a hard time wrapping my head around those numbers no matter how many times I look at them. However, if the NFL has taught us one thing, a large number of tackles isn’t always indicative of a really good player.

Dye has his flashes and in general, is an instinctive player, but his athletic limitations are very evident on film. Dye is fast and has great closing speed. He possesses good tackling technique and is always mindful of how he chases ball carriers.

However, even though he stands at 6-foot-3,  he only weighs 231 pounds. That is light for a linebacker with his length. (He also struggles to keep on the weight) This with his poor lateral quickness negatively impacting his game.

In coverage, Dye has his flashes. When he needs to play man coverage on tight ends, he is sticky and uses his length to his advantage forcing the receiver into bad positions. When running backs catch screen passes, he has the speed to quickly make a break on the ball. However, if he is asked to move laterally and cover ground in space he struggles. This with his limited ability to jam receivers mid-route can lead to open receivers he’s stuck chasing down.

As a pass rusher, the same applies. When coming in as a free rusher he can chase down quarterbacks, and more importantly, he makes sure they land on the ground. However, if he is forced to go up against linemen and even some running backs, their power and strength stop him in his tracks.

As a run stopper, you guessed it. He squares his hips in the direction of the ball carrier and almost always lines up in his gap, but struggles to get off blocks. Even in open space, if he reaches the running back, he will flat out miss the tackle because he isn’t strong enough. It gets frustrating watching someone who has the instincts to make the play ultimately not complete the task.

Teams needing a smart linebacker would be wise to draft the duck, however, they know the athletic limitations that come with him. He is fast but not quick. He is long but not particularly strong. He has good technique but yet still looks out of touch. It’s a sad world we live in.