IRVING, Texas -- For the second time in four years, the Cowboys drafted a linebacker after trading up with the division rival Philadelphia Eagles.
Dallas drafted Penn State inside linebacker Sean Lee with the 55th overall pick, moving up four spots in the second round. The Cowboys gave up one of their fourth-rounders (125th overall) in the deal.
Inside linebacker might not be as pressing a need as safety or offensive line, but this is a value pick for a player who will have a chance to contribute immediately and start relatively soon.
Nickel linebacker Bobby Carpenter is entering the final season of his contract and rumored to be on the trade block. Starting weakside linebacker Keith Brooking is in his mid-30s, so the Cowboys have to get his replacenent prepared.
This pick isn't exactly a vote of confidence in Jason Williams, the Cowboys' first pick last year at No. 69 overall. Williams is a great athlete, but he didn't even contribute on special teams as a rookie, and it was obvious his head was spinning when he played linebacker during training camp.
The last time the Eagles and Cowboys pulled the trigger on a draft-day trade worked well for both teams. The Cowboys got Anthony Spencer. The Eagles landed Kevin Kolb.
Here is a quickie scouting report on Lee from Scouts Inc., which gave him a grade of 87:
Pros: Excellent football intelligence. Quickly diagnoses plays and gets into position. Disciplined and can be counted on to carry out assignment. Sniffs out screens and draws. A strong and consistent wrap up tackler. Displays excellent technique and breaks down in the open field.
Cons: Shows some tightness in hips and struggles with any sudden change of direction. Closing burst is adequate at best and doesn't have sideline-to-sideline range. However lack of fluidity and burst make him a liability in man coverage. Times blitzes well but lacks the closing speed to consistently get to the quarterback.