The Cowboys need help at inside linebacker.
In my 2010 Inside Linebacker Grades, I provided rookie Sean Lee with the best mark:
Sean Lee B- (82.4)
- 2009 Grade: None
Bradie James: B- (81.3)
- 2009 Grade: B (84.1)
Keith Brooking: C (76.7)
- 2009 Grade: B+ (87.6)
I loved Lee’s improvement over the course of the season and I think he’ll outwork just about everyone to ensure he can be counted upon.
Bradie James should still be serviceable for another year or two, but that’s about it. His game is limited and he’s becoming increasingly difficult to “hide” in coverage.
The Cowboys have done a poor job of addressing positions before they become a major problem. Now would normally be the time to draft an inside linebacker of the future to play alongside Lee, but the ‘Boys have so many other pressing needs.
In my opinion, it might suit Dallas well to target as many versatile players as possible in an attempt to kill two birds with one stone. Today’s feature, Martez Wilson of Illinois, possesses the versatility and athleticism to do just that.
Martez Wilson was nicknamed “Freak” in college because of his combination of size and athleticism.
He is a monster at 6’4”, 250 pounds and he packs the weight quite well. He’s produced on the field (112 tackles, four sacks in 2010) his entire career, dating back to high school when he was the No. 2 defensive end in the nation.
In a day when potential is valued over production, there’s something to be said for a guy who simply gets the job done. I’ll take football players over athletes all day (although drafting guys who are both is ideal.)
Wilson uses leverage quite well, nearly always keeping his playside shoulder free when being blocked. This allows him to use his strength to shed blockers and make tackles.
He’s a well above-average blitzer; I have no hesitancy claiming he’s already better at rushing the quarterback than any current inside linebacker on the Cowboys’ roster. Check out the 1:03 mark in the video below against Ohio State.
Wilson will sometimes take poor angles to the football and over-pursue. He doesn’t excel in space, failing to adequately break down, specifically against small, shifty athletes. He’ll also have some trouble covering running backs in the NFL, regardless of which position he plays.
The reason that Wilson could have so much value to Dallas, however, is his versatility. The Cowboys still need to find another young inside linebacker to complement Sean Lee and you can never have too many talented 3-4 outside linebackers.
Most analysts are actually projecting Wilson to play the latter of those two positions. I believe Wilson possesses the athleticism to play inside, however. He’s certainly no worse in space than Bradie James or Keith Brooking at this point in their careers.
Still, the ability to play a multitude of positions makes Wilson’s risk/reward that much more intriguing.
To me, it would be difficult for the Cowboys to pass up Wilson’s talent in the second round.
There are a few character concerns here which could cause Wilson to drop (he got stabbed outside of a bar in 2008, although I’ve been stabbed outside of a bar, like, eight times now and it was only once my fault).
He’s a mid-to-late first round talent who will probably get selected in the late-first or (more likely) early-second.
I would have no problem with the ‘Boys scooping up Wilson in the second round. I actually really like the kid. I would imagine he’ll be a top 25 player on my Big Board (coming soon).
His versatility equates to a greater chance of success.
Other Potential Dallas Cowboys Draft Picks in 2011