Cowboys' Jaylon Smith: Could shift to strong side
Smith may shift to strong-side linebacker in the Cowboys' base defense after the team used a first-round pick on Boise State product Leighton Vander Esch, Kristi Scales of The Dallas Morning News reports.
Vander Esch's selections hints at a lack of confidence regarding Smith's ability to handle a full-time role, though Sean Lee's lengthy injury history may have been just as large of a factor. The Cowboys likely envision Vander Esch as a direct replacement for Anthony Hitchens, who signed with the Chiefs in March after operating as a three-down middle linebacker for the Cowboys throughout much of 2017. Despite notching 81 tackles and two forced fumbles on only 575 defensive snaps last season, Smith may find himself watching from the sideline while Lee and Vander Esch take the field in the Cowboys' nickel defense. Of course, it won't come as any surprise if Smith puts up a major fight, considering he was an even better prospect than Vander Esch prior to suffering a career-threatening knee injury while playing for Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl in January 2016.
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