The Cowboys investment at linebacker will pay off for years to come

One of the things the Dallas Cowboys had to do this offseason was get their linebacker room in order. The experiment with Markquese Bell at the position had some high notes, but he needs to go back to his natural spot playing safety. Dallas decided to go the veteran free agent route and picked up not only Eric Kendricks, but also Damien Wilson as of Monday.

Kendricks played under new Cowboys defensive coordinator with the Minnesota Vikings for seven seasons. There’s an unbelievable comfort level for him in Mike Zimmer’s scheme, and he will take charge of middle linebacker duties in 2024. Kendricks has taken a slight step back from his best years, but his still performing at a level that’s worthy of a quality starter. His one season with the Los Angeles Chargers saw him rack up 117 tackles, his eighth consecutive year over the century mark in that category. Wilson gives the Cowboys another solid veteran presence in the middle. He played his first four years in the NFL in Dallas (2015-2018) and had a second stint with the team last season on the practice squad.

Marist Liufau is the shiny new toy in the linebacker room. Taken in the third round, Liufau will be play strong side or Sam linebacker to start, according to linebackers coach Scott McCurley. His sideline-to-sideline ability mixed with long arms and skills to cover a lot of ground in space make him a perfect weapon in the middle, and he gets to learn from multiple veterans right off the bat. However, there’s also the potential for Liufau at middle linebacker as well with his skill set per McCurley. So, the Kendricks and Wilson additions can be impactful there.

Two years ago, the Cowboys took a chance on Damone Clark, who was coming off spinal fusion surgery just before the NFL draft. The flashes were there as a rookie, and he even played well for the most part in 2023. However, the injury the Leighton Vander Esch forced him to play middle linebacker when he’s more suited to play the weakside or Will role, which he’ll do in 2024. Now, Clark can show more of his talent with this comfort level and get to use his athleticism and excellent tackling ability. It’s Year 3 for Clark, and taking the next step in his development will be key.

DeMarvion Overshown was arguably the draft pick from last season that had the most buzz behind it. A former safety, Overshown was set to come in and make an immediate impact with a big role, but he unfortunately torn his ACL in the preseason. Luckily, that gave him a full year to recover, and he’s expected to be ready for training camp. Overshown will play on the strong side, and it’ll be interesting to see him playing downhill and plugging gaps with his speed.

Clark, Overshown, and Liufau are the future core of the linebacker room in Dallas. Having Kendricks and Wilson to mentor them will pay huge dividends this season, but it will also give them everything they need for years to come to operate as unit.


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