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Cowboys’ Draft Focus: ILB vs. OLB

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Contributed by Justin Shoemaker

The Cowboys' feelings regarding LB Jason Williams could determine which direction they go early in the 2010 draft.

To project the direction the Cowboys may go in the 2010 draft, it is crucial to analyze how the organization regarded their 2009 draft selections. The team’s feelings and confidence in players such as Victor Butler, Jason Williams, Brandon Williams, and Stephen Hodge will go a long way in deciding which way they choose to go in the upcoming draft. The fact that these four players are linebackers could sway the Cowboys to focus more on adding offensive line depth or drafting a young safety.

If the Cowboys like the progress of inside linebacker Jason Williams, for example, I see the team not focusing on ILB until the middle rounds at the earliest. A lack of confidence in the ability or attitude of Jason Williams, however, could result in an early-round ILB selection such as Florida’s Brandon Spikes.

The outside linebacker picture seems a bit less muddled, as the small flashes of quality play we saw out of Victor Butler make me believe the Cowboys like their situation at outside linebacker, particularly with Anthony Spencer stepping up his game in the latter half of the season. Thus, I think the team would be best served considering ILB over OLB, granted the value is there.

Although Keith Brooking was the emotional leader on defense and Bradie James’ play was at a near-Pro Bowl level, the Cowboys really need to get younger at the position. As the “quarterback of the defense,” the inside linebacker often needs time to adjust to and become fully integrated into a new system, meaning finding tomorrow’s defensive leader is a process that should begin today.

Season-ending injuries to rookies such as Brandon Williams (pictured) and Jason Williams give Dallas additional options that were not available in '09.

Victor Butler showed flashes in '09, and should get the opportunity to show more consistency next season.

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