The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

Breaking Down Cowboys’ 2012 Draft: Kyle Wilber, OLB, Wake Forest

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Jonathan Bales

I gave the Cowboys’ selection of Tyrone Crawford a C+ grade because he has a lot of upside, but I don’t see him making an immediate impact in Dallas. Due to his position, the same is probably true of Kyle Wilber.

Scouting Report

At 6’4”, 249 pounds, Wilber has good length but is a little on the small side to play as the SAM linebacker in Dallas’ 3-4 defense. I really don’t mind undersized players, but I’m afraid Wilber might lose some of his quickness if he’s forced to gain weight. As I see it right now, he has just average explosiveness and a good, but not great, first step.

Wilber was asked to play far too much coverage at Wake Forest. He’s a stiff-hipped player who will eventually get beat if he’s in space too much. He does a surprisingly nice job of breaking down in the open-field to tackle, but he’s not a turn-and-run type of player.

Against the run, Wilber is very instinctive. He diagnoses plays very well and reacts quickly. Plus, he’s got an awesome motor. He won’t necessarily hold up blockers at the point of attack, but he can make plays running across the field. Wilber also does a nice job shedding blockers, due in large part to his length. All in all, he’s a really sure tackler.

Still, I’m worried about Wilber as a pass rusher. He reminds me a whole lot of Anthony Spencer, and with Spencer perhaps leaving after 2012, maybe that’s why the Cowboys drafted him. Wilber doesn’t possess the sort of quick-twitch ability you see in rushers who can consistently threaten the edge, however, and it isn’t like he’s going to get much leaner and faster.

Career Projection

Wilber probably won’t have too much of an impact in 2012. He’ll compete with Victor Butler for snaps behind Spencer and DeMarcus Ware. I’d have to think Butler is a better pass-rusher at this point, so I’m not sure we’ll see Wilber much on nickel downs unless he really impresses in camp.

Wilber has some upside in that I don’t think he was utilized correctly in college. Maybe he has the ability to become a dominant rusher and simply wasn’t given that opportunity at Wake. I don’t think he has the first step to become a Pro Bowl player, but there’s no reason to think it’s impossible Wilber starts for Dallas in 2013.

Pick Grade: C

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15 Responses to Breaking Down Cowboys’ 2012 Draft: Kyle Wilber, OLB, Wake Forest

  1. Rick says:

    I think you’re putting WAY too much stock into immediate impact. If a 3rd or 4th round pick starts immediately, it’s mostly indicative of a talent-starved depth chart rather than a great draft pick.

  2. Rick..I know mid/late-round prospects shouldn’t be expected to make an immediate impact. I discussed it, but the majority of my grade was for potential. Both guys have upside, but I don’t like the explosiveness of either Wilber nor Crawford. Sorry for being unclear..should have stated that more clearly.

  3. Rick says:

    You did indicate you thought they could be starters, though. I think that’s a success with 3rd and 4th rounders (assuming they’re starters off merit and not circumstance).

  4. john coleman says:

    I like the kids length. I would prefer even a little taller. I also think that he can add weight. He seems to be lacking in muscle bulk, which should not slow him down, as he gets bigger. He’s probabaly looking at being able to add 10 to 15 lbs. Looking at him, he still seems to lack the natural filling out or thickening that comes with aging. As far as skills go, I’m not overly concerned, because he has only one season as a standup player. He was a hand down DE until last season. That might infact signal that he has more upside than we think. However his numbers do agree with your assessment that he is not overly explosive. At the end of the day, he is a solid prospect, in a year that I personally feel the 3-4 OLB crop was weak. Hence, the franchising of Spencer, to be sure we were solid at least.

  5. Tom says:

    I really like this kid. He’s already ahead of the other top pass rush type DE/OLB’s in this draft due to his experience in the 3-4 system, and he’s played well with room for upside. Wait until he gets a year or two training with Woicik, he could be a beast. But what I like most are the descriptions I read about his high football IQ, maturity, and coachability.

    I think this guy could be a contributor this year, but I would expect a much bigger contribution next year and beyond. He doesn’t have the explosive get off like a Bruce Irvin, but he’s got a better head on his shoulders.
    I’m pretty excited the Cowboys snagged him and look forward to seeing what he can do this season, but more so down the road as he gets bigger and stronger.

  6. JC–Agree the class certainly had something to do with Spencer’s tag.

    Tom–I think coachability and willingness to improve are highly underrated factors in drafting. With a fourth-round prospect in particular, it is important to remember it isn’t how good he is now, but how good he will be in a few years. I’d prefer a guy with a little more quick-twitch ability than Wilber, but you always want guys who want to improve.

  7. Greg says:

    I think the draft should be about getting something that Dallas does not already have. Wilber is not fast, strong, elusive, big, tough, or productive. He basically was drafted for non-athletic reasons of being RKG. But what does he really upgrade bsides youth? Victor Butler and Spencer already have now what Wilber is supposed to have once he gets in more NFL condition. The notion of not finding a contributing player, starter, or playmaker anywhere but the first round of the draft is just not founded. Brandon Carr, Jason Witten, Scandrick, Ratliff, Free, Romo, and Austin are just the Dallas anomalies to the Round 1 elite theory. I wonder who Dallas could have picked without the RKG moral filter. If the filter existed in previous drafts and acquisitions, chances are Dez Bryant, Charles Haley, Michael Irvin, and Deion Sanders would not be allowed on the team.

  8. But neither would Quincy Carter, Troy Hambrick, or Torrin Tucker.

  9. Greg says:

    Hardly in the same category.

    None of the three you listed had any measurable or substantial impact on Dallas winning anything, unlike those I listed (save for Dez)

    You would also have a good point if you could somehow correlate their existence on the team as being a substantial contributing factor to Dallas losing.

    Not so.

  10. Cowgirlcas says:

    I agree with most you said, but the part of being good at shedding blocks is way off, in fact this is the 1st time I saw anyone say he was good at that. I am a Cowboys fan through and through but I think passing on Ronnel Lewis or Jared Crick for him was a huge mistake. I see Wilber a special teams guy at best. Maybe down the road he can make an impact, but at this point I don’t see it.

  11. SteveG says:

    Time will tell if Garrett’s desire to bring in high character/high motor guys, vs perhaps more talented-but-more-character challenged players, will pay off.

    Can’t hurt to try. Lord knows filling the team with T.O’s and Pac Man’s didn’t work, now did it?

    In any case, I strongly suspect once JG has “his” type of players in place and established for the most part he might then begin to take a few more chances on some “iffy” but very talented guys.

  12. Cowgirl–I will respectfully disagree. A lot of people repeat scouting reports on the internet, so one person’s opinion on a player will turn into 100 of the same opinions. When Toodd McShay mistakenly claims a guy plays with good leverage, all of a sudden that info is all over the internet. Wilber is a strong tackler and really does a good job of extending to shed. Watch the tape and I think you’ll see that.

  13. Steve G–Agreed. I don’t necessarily think Garrett will pass on big talent when it drops. Claiborne is an example of that. I think he’s a good kid, but he isn’t necessarily a prototypical Garrett guy. For the most part, you’ll see intelligent, athletic, hard-working players in Dallas, but I think ‘hard-working’ is the only trait we will see in ALL players under Garrett.

  14. AZBOYZFAN says:

    Height: 6-3 Weight: 257

    Height: 6-4 Weight: 249

    So how is he small? He could easily put on 8 – 10lbs and not loose his quickness. He is taller then Spencer and can be easily bigger then him.

  15. AZ–I don’t think being “small” is a bad thing..I’d actually prefer a quick, undersized team to a massive, slow one. The problem is if you are going to be slightly undersized, you damn sure better be able to run. Can Wilber do that? I don’t think his explosiveness matches up with his current weight.

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