Dallas Cowboys

Linebacker-needy Cowboys showing interest in former Texas star Malik Jefferson

Should the Cowboys draft a receiver or a lineman? Here's who they're most likely to end up with

The Dallas Cowboys have the 19th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft on April 26-28. These are the 15 guys most likely to end up in Dallas, according to draft experts.
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The Dallas Cowboys have the 19th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft on April 26-28. These are the 15 guys most likely to end up in Dallas, according to draft experts.

It’s no secret that the Dallas Cowboys are in the market for a linebacker early on in the 2018 NFL Draft, set for April 26-28 at AT&T Stadium.

With Anthony Hitchens gone in free agency and questions surrounding the health and durability of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith, the position remains a huge need even after the signing of free agent Joe Thomas on Wednesday.

One area prospect to keep an eye on is former Texas star Malik Jefferson, who played in high school at Mesquite Poteet.

Unlike the Houston Texans, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys did not do a formal interview with Jefferson at the NFL Scouting Combine earlier this month when Jefferson wowed with a performance as strong as any linebacker in the draft.

Some NFL prospects train at ACCELERATE Performance Enhancement Center as they get ready for the NFL Combine and the the draft. Malik Jefferson, Nick Orr, Evan Brown and Keke Coutee are among the group.

But interest from the Cowboys seems to be picking up as Jefferson had an informal meeting at the team’s headquarters at the Star on Tuesday, according to a source, and could return for a visit and/or workout in early April when national visits and Dallas-day workouts are conducted.

Jefferson, who trained at APEC in Fort Worth under Bobby Stroupe, was projected to go in the second or third round of the draft before the combine where he wowed.

His time of 4.52 seconds in the 40 yard dash was third best of all the linebackers. His 27 reps on the bench press were second best. He was fourth in the long jump and vertical jump. And he was as fluid as any linebacker during on-field drills.

Athleticism has never been an issue for Jefferson.

The key is finding the right position for him and allowing him to develop.

He played weakside and middle linebacker at Texas and also rushed from the edge.

His weakness is pass defense, according to scouts.

But his athleticism and ability to run to the football is elite.

Jefferson could be seen as a potential replacement for Lee on the weak side.

Jefferson played three years at Texas before declaring for the draft after earning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors as a junior when he notched 110 tackles, including 10 for losses, and four sacks.

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