Many considered Blade a bust when the Cowboys picked him in the third round of the 2001 draft. He didn't play as a rookie and entered the 2002 out of shape before being cut at the end training camp. Not anymore...
DT Willie Blade
Warner Robins, GA
Willie Blade brings a big, young body to the defensive line rotation. He's a physical player that plays the run well from either the nose tackle or defensive tackle position. Assuming his weight stays under control, the coaching staff is expecting Blade to continue his upward trend and continue to battle for more playing time in 2004.
Willie Blade is a massive defensive tackle that is only starting to reach his potential in the National Football League. A favorite of head coach Bill Parcells, Blade's best days clearly are ahead of him. Weight control has always been an issue, but Parcells has pushed the right buttons to keep it under control.
As a senior at Mississippi State, Blade was a semifinalist for the Outland Trophy given annually to the nation's top down lineman. He also earned conference and national honors, closing his senior season with 51 tackles, 13 quarterback pressures (second on the team), 9 tackles for a loss, 4 sacks and 2 fumble recoveries.
Willie Blade played in 13 regular season games for the Cowboys in 2003. He recorded 18 total tackles, including 3 for loss and 1 sack. Before the start of training camp, he was considered a long shot to make the roster, however he's now viewed by the Cowboys' organization as a player that can compete with anyone that lines up against him.
At 6-foot-3, 315 pounds, Blade has ample size to become the run-stuffing defensive tackle to go along side pass rushing specialist La'Roi Glover. Weight problems have always been a concern, as the former Bulldog has ballooned to as much as 350 pounds during his NFL career.
Many considered Blade a bust when the Cowboys picked him in the third round of the 2001 draft. He didn't play as a rookie and entered the 2002 out of shape before being cut at the end training camp. Houston claimed Blade off waivers, and he remained on the Texans' roster as an inactive player for fifteen weeks before signing with Dallas again last year.
As long as his weight stays under control, Willie Blade has a spot on the Dallas Cowboys. Bill Parcells was impressed with his work ethic and his overall play a year ago, and there's no reason to expect that will change in 2004.