Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Linebacker Damien Wilson had a strong senior season for the Minnesota Golden Gophers in 2014, as the team leader in total tackles (119) and tackles for loss (10.5) while tying for the team lead in sacks with four. The Dallas Cowboys took Wilson with the 127th overall pick (fifth round) in this year’s NFL Draft, and he was the first of three Gophers selected.
Wilson’s ability to earn a roster spot in Dallas was never really in doubt, so the fact he made the Cowboys’ 53-man roster over the weekend was not a big surprise. He is not in line to start at this point, but Dallas’ group of linebackers is not exactly talent-laden beyond an injury-prone Sean Lee and a currently suspended Rolando McClain.
Wilson played middle linebacker for the Gophers, with a high level of success, and that might be where his NFL future ultimately is as a potential starter. But he does have the ability to play all three positions in the Cowboys’ 4-3 alignment, which surely helped him secure a roster spot. Wilson should stick around throughout his rookie season, even after McClain returns from his four-game suspension and adds another option at linebacker for Dallas
Special teams will probably be where Wilson will have a clear opportunity to make an impression early in his rookie season. But if he performs well in that area, Cowboys’ defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli could be forced to find a bigger role for Wilson in short order.
I don’t necessarily think that Wilson will become a perennial Pro Bowler, and he may not even become a regular starter in the NFL. But he can definitely find a way to earn a roster spot year-in and year-out, and there’s a good chance that Wilson will put together a NFL career of notable length with very little notoriety.
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