The Wake Forest product has some Anthony Spencer in his game, but the Cowboys fourth-round pick is probably a year away from being a consistent NFL contributor.
Entering the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys held two draft picks. Before the Cowboys went on the clock, a bunch of my potential targets were selected.
- Wide receiver Joe Adams would have been the perfect weapon for the offense. It's a shame that the Arkansas product will not be rocking the blue and silver.
- Center Philip Blake was a one player the scouting department and front office showed interest in. He would have given Phil Costa a run for his money in training camp.
- Nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu was a fan favorite. His selection would have beefed up the defensive line.
- Tight end Ladarius Green was my favorite tight in the draft. He would have been the receiving tight end that could have been a nightmare match up.
The Cowboys' war room spent their original fourth-round draft pick, the 113th overall selection, on Wake Forest DE/OLB Kyle Wilber. At first this wasn't a pick I was thrilled about, but I did agree with the position they targeted. Outside linebacker needed to be addressed in the draft and this team needed to add a developmental pass rusher to the roster.
There were three pass rushers that I would have taken over Wilber, but there is a reason I am writing this article instead of working in the NFL.
- Oklahoma's Ronnell Lewis was a Valley Ranch invite during the draft process, so the Cowboys did show interest. Lewis eventually was selected 125th overall by the Detroit Lions.
- Troy's Jonathan Massaquoi was an intriguing prospect that caught my eye late into the draft process. The Atlanta Falcons may have gotten a steal with the 164th overall pick.
- Virginia's Cam Johnson fell all the way to the 237th overall pick in the seventh round. Character issues may have been the deciding factor in his fall.
After doing some research and taking a closer look at Wilber, the Cowboys may have something in the former Demon Deacon.
- 6'4, 249 pounds
- 23 years old
- Apopka, Florida
- Wake Forest
- Outside Linebacker
If you aren't familiar with his background, please check out this fantastic article. I doubt that Wilber is reading this, but in case he is, I just want you to know that I have some serious respect for you. This is a young man who has been through drama that some people don't experience in their entire lifetimes, yet alone 23 years.
He came to Wake Forest as a 190 pound defensive end. Wilbur has also been through some major adversity during his career at Wake Forest. He has broken a leg, suffered a nagging hamstring injury and made the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker. Through it all, he has been a big part of the Demon Deacon defense.
- 195 tackles
- 13.5 career sacks
- 35.5 tackles for loss
- 6 forced fumbles
- 4 blocked kicks
- Great size and length
- Can set the edge against the run
- Good speed
- Physical player who plays with a mean streak
- Natural football instincts
- Can track the football
- Good first step
- Can change directions
- Good pass rusher
- Great motor
- Natural leader
- The "RKG"
- A little stiff in the hips
- Can struggle in space
- Will have trouble disengaging from blockers
- Due to his height, he can get too high in his pad level
- Not very explosive or dynamic as a pass rusher
Wilber definitely has the size and athletic ability to become a starting 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. I have been a big fan of pass rushers that have a tall, lean and muscular frame. He has the same type of frame that can still add more weight and muscle. His 33 1/4 inch arms can be used to his advantage against offensive lineman when pass rushing and trying to disengage from blockers.
On the limited tape I saw of him, I see a player similar to Anthony Spencer. Now for those of you that know me well, then you know that I am not a huge Spencer fan, but to get that type of player in the fourth round is a fantastic value. Rob Ryan probably hand picked this kid in the draft. Ryan's comments suggest that he is very high on Wilber.
"He's a smart kid," Ryan said of Wilber, who graduated in December with a double major in sociology and communication. "He plays hard. He knows how to cover, which is a hard thing for an outside linebacker. All they do is rush in college. Well, this kid knows how to cover. He's going to be a lot further advanced than most rookies are."
In most cases when a 3-4 team drafts a pass rusher, they usually take a 4-3 defensive end and transform him to 3-4 outside linebacker. In this case, Wilber has experience in both systems. That will be a major benefit for him and it should help make his transition to the NFL a whole lot easier.
The 3-4 outside linebacker has one of the most difficult jobs in football. They must be good pass rushers, but they also have to drop back into coverage and stop the run. Wilber understands that his role is unique and he discussed what he can do as an outside linebacker.
"I can jam tight ends," the 6-foot-4, 242-pound Wilber said. "I can be physical with wide receivers, but I also can pass rush. I have a sneaky inside move, and I'm smart. I've got a motor on me. I'll keep going."
Impression: An intriguing 34 rush end to me. Has a good first step, can change directions on his pass rush and plays the run with good integrity. Could be posed for a jump up draft boards with a solid year. Reminds me some of Jaguars DE Aaron Morgan.
Aaron Morgan was a first-round pick that never panned out, but to compare a fourth-round pick to him is a very good comparison. I see a lot of Anthony Spencer in Wilber, but Wilber clearly separates himself in the leadership department. He appears to be a natural leader who will be very vocal, and that is something the Cowboys desperately need more of on their football team.
My expectations for Wilber in his rookie season won't be too high, but in 2013 I expect him to compete for the starting strong side outside linebacker position. Spencer will be a free agent next year and there is a very good chance Dallas will decide to part ways with him. Wilber has the athletic ability to become a starter in the NFL. If he works hard at it, which I clearly think he will, Wilber could develop into a very good player for the Cowboys.
Wake Forest LB Kyle Wilber Draft Profile (via ProFootballWeekly)