Mission accomplished. Pre-draft rumors indicated that they wanted a pass-rushing linebacker with great speed and a big defensive end who can rush the passer and hold up well against the run.
With their second selection in the first round, Dallas selected
monstrous defensive end Marcus Spears (6-4, 307) of LSU, further
fueling reports that the Cowboys will switch to the 3-4 defense.
Spears, who burst into the national spotlight in the 2004 Sugar Bowl,
scoring what proved to be the game-winning points in LSU's 21-14 win
over Oklahoma when he returned an interception 20 yards for a score,
helping LSU to a split (with USC) of the national championship for the
Spears is exactly what the Cowboys want and need. He is a prototype
defensive end for the 3-4, and has the bulk to slide inside and rush
the passer from an interior (defensive tackle) position in obvious
But make no mistake, despite his 300-plus pounds,
he is not a misplaced defensive tackle. Spears moves better than his
5.01 time in the 40, and he has extremely long arms. Coming off the
corner, he evokes images of a thicker, stronger (and, of course,
shorter) "Too Tall" Jones. With his bulk, he can drive offensive
tackles straight backward, and can greatly assist the coverage behind
him by getting his arms up, either knocking down passes or making the
quarterback re-think or alter the pass.
The addition of Spears to the Dallas -- regardless of defensive
alignment -- brings an end to the use of smaller defensive ends like
Shante Carver, Kavika Pittman and Ebenezer Ekuban. Opposing teams no
longer can direct all of their blocking assistance (with a tight end or
running back) to doubling up on Greg Ellis, the team's best linemen.
Spears and top choice DeMarcus Ware create an entirely new look for the
Dallas front seven, and their size and speed will create more
opportunities for DT La'Roi Glover and the rest of the Dallas
Among current players, Spears might most closely resemble (in frame and
in ability) Denver's Trevor Pryce, the Broncos' 6-5, 295-pound Pro
Bowler who slides inside to play defensive tackle in some scenarios.
Like Pryce, Spears has more strength than his long frame might suggest. Like any rookie, he will benefit from getting stronger through the
Cowboys' conditioning program. He needs to make sure not to get too much heavier, or he might be pushed inside on a full-time basis.
Spears-fishing: Tuna Reels in DE
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