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) /
5 of 6
Markus Bailey, Linebacker (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Markus Bailey, Purdue

Round Grade: 3rd

Value: Correct

Percent Available: 90%

It is unfortunate to see really good players tear their ACL in the final year of their collegiate career. Bailey was one of the top linebackers heading into the 2019 season, and a season-ending injury in his second game has dropped his stock. Or has it?

Standing at 6-foot-0, 235 pounds, Bailey is a thick athlete. His legs are comparable to Willie Gay Jr’s and his upper body looks rock solid. Even with two knee surgeries at his time in West Lafayette, he still showed the ability to move around with the faster players on the field. (At least in a straight line)

More from Sports Dallas Fort-Worth

Bailey has above-average instincts to complement his stature and athleticism. As a pass rusher, he uses hands to win leverage against offensive linemen. He turns his speed into power and stuns opposing running backs. He is creative enough to create pressure with a person in his face. (Explains his 14 sacks in 27 games)

As a run stopper, he has the production to prove how valuable he was. If a ball carrier was in his grasp, he was bringing him down. When moving towards the ball carriers, he tended to over pursue, but he always made sure his body was in a position to change direction. (Worked to the tune of 28 tackles for loss)

In coverage, Bailey looked like a natural. While he didn’t have the lateral quickness to move one-on-one with running backs, he has good coverage instincts moving within his zone and deflecting passes. Early on his career, he was good at breaking on the ball and making plays, but as his career progressed, the injuries caught up and less was seen. With his most recent ACL tear, some more of his athleticism will be stripped away from him.

Bailey has the production and instincts scouts will love, but his injury history is a big question mark. Typically, teams would be able to do their homework and check with their medical staff to give the green light on certain players. Unfortunately, the pandemic has negatively impacted players like Bailey. They aren’t able to conduct physicals and it is exactly why third round talents are available in the middle of the fourth round.