Erik Walden: The Longshot?

IRVING, Tex. - To the casual observer, Erik Walden might seem to be the biggest longshot of all of the Dallas Cowboys' 2008 draft picks to make the final roster.

After all, while his fellow draftees arrive in Dallas from BCS schools like Arkansas, South Florida, Texas A&M and Georgia Tech, Walden is making the jump from Middle Tennesee State … and switching to a new position.

Is that too much to ask?

No, according to Walden (6-2, 242), who was a defensive end at MTSU, but is shifting back to outside linebacker with the Cowboys.

"We played some pretty good teams there," Walden said, "and I don't think the position change is going to be as big a deal as it could be. At Middle Tennessee, the defensive ends play in a stand-up position sometimes, and we drop into coverage more than d-ends do at a lot of other places.

"With my size, I pretty much knew that I'd have to switch back to linebacker," Walden said. "They've talked about using me like they do (DeMarcus) Ware or (Anthony) Spencer."

That role, Walden said, suits him just fine.

"I can drop into coverage," he said, "but my biggest strength is definitely the pass rush. I've worked hard to develop my all-around game, but the pass rush – that's what I do best."

Walden grew up in Atlanta Falcons country, living in Dublin, Ga., as a kid. But he always had an eye on the Cowboys, making his selection by Dallas even more of a thrill.

"You have no choice but to watch the Cowboys – they're America's team, they're always on TV," Walden said. "I expected to get drafted – I just wanted to get my foot in the door. When I got that call, it was one of the best days of my life. But this is only the beginning – now I need to take advantage of the opportunity in front of me."

CowboysHQ Top Stories