Complete Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft: Final Prediction

K'Lavon Chaisson, EDGE (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
K'Lavon Chaisson, EDGE (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /
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Markus Bailey, Linebacker (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Markus Bailey, LB, Purdue

At this point, a lot of the talent the team virtually interviewed has been drafted and they have drafted two positions of need in EDGE and cornerback. There were several players available at 123, but no player held the value of Bailey. It feels a bit odd saying that about someone who is recovering from an ACL surgery that teams weren’t able to evaluate.

However, players fall due to injuries every year. This year more will fall because of their inability to meet with medical staffs. This late in the draft, it is up to teams to find the best remaining talent and use them to the best of their ability. Bailey is by far some of the best talent available this late.

A five-year senior, Bailey was a defensive team leader that tallied 324 total tackles, 28 tackles for loss, and 14.5 sacks. (Most of that was done in 38 games) Bailey can rush the passer and cover receivers in the open field. His instincts are some of the best in the class and he is a sure tackler. He is a thick guy and plays like you would expect.

The injury concerns, however, are quite important. Bailey underwent his second season-ending injury this last season at Purdue. Typically, it is difficult for even the best athletes to recover from torn ACLs. With Bailey’s athleticism already in question, a second ACL tear does significant damage to his draft stock and playing ability.

However, if there is a team that is willing to select injury-prone linebackers, it’s the Dallas Cowboys.

Bailey wouldn’t be forced into a starting role. The Cowboys are expected to have Leighton Vander Esch back to fill the WILL linebacker role. Jaylon Smith doesn’t look like he’ll be stripped of his starting spot as a SAM linebacker. With the selection of Chaisson, the Cowboys have their SAM linebacker filled to some degree. Sean Lee is also expected back in some capacity.

However, Bailey’s coverage and run-stopping ability are important to note. Last season, the Cowboys struggled to stop the run, especially up the middle. Giving some snaps to Bailey on early downs could provide an instant impact for the team. If you want to be creative, you can use him as a nickel linebacker that has to cover the middle of the field.

Bailey is a good player. If the Cowboys select him, they could get even more creative by trying to use him as a MIKE linebacker in a 3-4 front in their effort to be “more multiple” on defense. Teach him how to play special teams and you have yourself a defensive leader for years to come.