Impact of the position change
As with any position change, the move doesn’t happen in a vacuum, meaning there’s other factors at play and a trickledown effect on the rest of the team that must be taken into account. In this case, it’s who is going to take Jaylon’s spot at MIKE?
The answer is Leighton Vander Esch.
LVE was the perfect middle linebacker the day he was drafted. A long and athletic unicorn in the mold of Brian Urlacher, LVE is someone who can dominate in the middle of the field. Whether the Dallas Cowboys are playing an odd man front, and even man front, or whether they’re in Cover 2, Quarters, 2- Deep, or 2-man, LVE is more than capable of being an asset as a MIKE. He’ll still be able to offer those big hits in the middle, the run and chase plays on the perimeter, but he’ll also get a chance at being a critical part in an upgraded coverage unit.
At the age of 34, Sean Lee isn’t a player the Dallas Cowboys want to lean on too heavily in 2020 but he’s more than capable of taking the 3rd most snaps amongst the Dallas linebacking corps. He has recent experience playing both SAM and WILL so he can cycle in at either spot with ease and proficiency.
The Dallas Cowboys also locked up Joe Thomas this winter and Thomas, one of the better coverage LBs on the team, should have no problem at WILL on passing downs. Luke Gifford is another attractive young prospect in the Dallas LB room. With a nose for the football, it’s easy to see him thrive at WILL.
At the end of the day linebacker is one of the Dallas Cowboys deepest and most versatile position groups on the team. Mike Nolan can go a variety of directions and all of them appear to be better than what happened last season.