Stephen Jones Addresses Cowboys Linebacker Questions Ahead Of NFL Draft

By 105.3 The Fan

DALLAS (105.3 The Fan) - Dallas Cowboys COO and Director of Player Personnel Stephen Jones Joined the K&C Masterpiece on Friday to discuss the team's draft position, including their depth at the linebacker position, and the scheme that new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan could implement next season. 

The Cowboys linebackers notably struggled last season due to a variety of factors, including injuries to Leighton Vander Esch and Sean Lee, as well as their relative inexperience overall between Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith. 

If they pick Kenneth Murray you'd know 1 or 2 or 3 of the following:1) Buyer's remorse on a certain contract (I agree)2) Worries about LVE neck (I don't know)3) More multiple fronts (basically a guarantee)

— Jeff Cavanaugh (@JC1053) April 17, 2020

These issues have prompted questions about the team's need for a linebacker, such as Oklahoma's Kenneth Murray, heading into next week's draft, as well as their potential look at taking a standup edge or pass-rushing outside linebacker, such as Wisconsin's Zack Baun. 

"That would be news for me in terms of a heightened need for the linebacking position," Jones said when asked about addressing the group in the draft. "I think at the end of the day, what I've been fired up about with coach McCarthy and then what he's doing with our defensive staff and Mike Nolan is just what you just said. You want to have flexibility, you want to have great players, you want to be able to scheme against the offenses you're going to play around, and I think a perfect example of that, and people who have had a tremendous amount of success with that is Coach Belichick up in New England and how they scheme, and how they use different fronts and different schemes in order to have success on the defensive side of the ball."

The Patriots are known for using widely versatile multiple schemes on the defensive side of the ball, and in order for the Cowboys to implement a similar system, as they are clearly aiming to do, adding a standup edge type of player to the roster would be a necessity.

That said, the Cowboys are also awaiting the reinstatement status of edge rushers Randy Gregory and Aldon Smith, the latter of which was just recently signed to a one-year deal as a reclamation project of sorts. 

Both Gregory and Smith seemingly have the athleticism and talent to play a stand-up edge-rushing kind of role in Nolan's system, and Stephen Jones believes they can do just that. 

"Obviously you know we're working hard, putting their off the field priorities first, but you know with guys like Aldon Smith and Randy Gregory are long guys who can rush the passer from that outside spot," Jones said of the outside rusher position. "We call it a SAM/DPR role. Traditionally with Rod, we used typically more just the 4-3 and typical defensive ends with the guys like DeMarcus Lawrence and Quinn, but I do think you could see some situations there where you are looking at a pass rusher-type that can rush the passer from more of SAM/DPR-type position."

Stephen Jones mentions this defense having a SAM/DPR (designated pass rusher) position. They're going to be quite multiple.

— Jeff Cavanaugh (@JC1053) April 17, 2020

The Cowboys now have just six days to decide which direction they will head in when they are on the clock at number 17 next Thursday night, with adding a defensive impact player seemingly a big priority for the team.