Dallas could have the best, or worst, NFC East LB corps

dallas could have the best, or worst, nfc east lb corps

Dallas could have the best, or worst, NFC East LB corps

In yesterday's post about the Cowboys' defensive line I offered the option of moving Micah Parsons to a full-time linebacker in 2024.

The primary reason for that suggestion is simple. The Cowboys do not have a solid group at linebacker on the depth chart.

The loss of Leighton Vander Esch to an early injury-driven retirement is going to be hard to overcome.

Not to mention the questions hanging over last year's third round pick, DeMarvion Overshown.

Overshown was injured in the preseason and never saw a snap in the 2023 regular season. Who knows if he's fully recovered from the knee injury?

While Damone Clark is a solid linebacker, Dallas still needs to replace Vander Esch at middle linebacker.

They signed Eric Kendricks in the offseason, literally stealing him from the 49ers in free agency. But is he the answer?

Zimmer's Guy

Kendricks, a UCLA alum, will be playing in his 10th NFL season this fall. His first eight were played at Minnesota.

His head coach for seven of those seasons was the Cowboys' current Defensive Coordinator, Mike Zimmer.

Kendricks had 782 tackles, nine interceptions, and five fumble recoveries during that stretch.

He is clearly a temporary bandage at middle linebacker until the Cowboys can draft the long-term solution. But will the band-aid hold for one season?

Last year Kendricks played for the Chargers and still racked up 117 tackles.

If the interior defensive line doesn't solidify he'll likely have plenty of tackle opportunities in 2024.

The Men On The Outside

Clark's sophomore season was a revelation of sorts. He had 47 tackles in his rookie year in 2022.

He started 17 games in 2023 and had 109 tackles along with a fumble recovery.

If he repeats that effort in 2024 the Cowboys are set at WLB.

So the biggest area of concern is at SLB.

Right now the battle is between Overshown and Marist Liufau – the Cowboys' third round pick in April out of Notre Dame.

Both come into training camp with a lot of promise and potential. And both are unknown quantities.

If they struggle, Zimmer has the option to move Parsons into the slot for the majority of the snaps.

Or, he could slide Markquese Bell back down from safety. Bell spent a lot of time at linebacker last year under Dan Quinn's scheme.

Whoever emerges as the starting SLB – and how they perform – will determine just how this unit ranks against their NFC East rivals.

Dipping Into The Spring Football Well

A late wildcard was added on Tuesday when Dallas signed Willie Harvey Jr. out of the UFL. Harvey played for the St. Louis Battlehawks this spring.

He led the entire UFL in tackles with 76 in ten games.

Harver led all linebackers in tackles for loss, passes defended and forced fumbles as well.

He does have some NFL experience, having played for Cleveland in 2019.

The Cowboys have had some success in dipping into the spring football well. In 2022 Dallas signed WR Turpin from spring football and last year landed PK Brandon Aubrey.

Both have paid huge dividends for the Cowboys.

The Rest Of The NFC East

The Giants will likely start Brian Burns, Bobby Okereke, Micah McFadden, and Kayvon Thibodeaux in 2024.

Thibodeaux is a monster pass rusher. The rest of the group, as well as the backups, are not so strong.

While the linebackers weren't the worst room in 2023 for New York, they did little to help the team out.

Frankly, in 2024, it doesn't look like much has changed so far.

The Eagles four starters as of today are: Bryce Huff, Nakobe Dean, Devin White, and Nolan Smith.

Their key backups are likely Josh Sweat and rookie Jeremian Trotter Jr. This unit could turn out to be the division's best.

Or, like Dallas, they could fight the Giants as the division's worst LB corps.

That's basically the NFC East in 2024 when it comes to linebackers.

As for the Commanders, they went out and signed Bobby Wagner in free agency.

After that, it's a collection of seven guys that make you say: Who?

You read that right. Washington currently has a total of eight linebackers on its roster.

They have 15 defensive backs on the depth chart right now. That comes as no surprise to Cowboys' fans.

They understand that Quinn, the current Commanders' Head Coach, loves him some defensive backs playing undersized linebackers.

It was the biggest complaint about Quinn during his tenure as Defensive Coordinator in Dallas.

I suspect we'll be hearing similar gripes from Commanders' fans this fall.

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