As a whole the Cowboys' 2013 season was a disappointment, but they did manage to have some hidden gems. In this series, NFL Nation reporter Todd Archer looks at under-the-radar success stories.
IRVING, Texas -- In the first 10 games of the 2013 season Kyle Wilber produced 11 tackles and two sacks playing as a backup defensive end.
He looked like a guy without a position. He was unable to maintain consistent playing time despite injuries all season along the defensive line.
But then injuries forced the Dallas Cowboys to move Wilber to strongside linebacker for the final six games, and he had 31 tackles, two tackles for loss, and the Cowboys might have lucked into finding their starting strongside linebacker for 2014. He also displayed a toughness that was not apparent because of his lack of playing time.
DeVonte Holloman could be in the mix for the spot as well, but Wilber proved to be a quick learner. He played sparingly as an outside linebacker in the Cowboys’ 3-4 scheme in 2012, and Rob Ryan mistakenly tried to play him as a sub-package linebacker for a game, which had poor results.
He had never played linebacker in a 4-3 scheme before the Cowboys put him there in practice leading into the Nov. 24 meeting against the New York Giants. With the bye week allowing for more work, Wilber had seven tackles and a tackle for loss in the win at MetLife Stadium.
He had at least five tackles in his next four games. He had just three in the season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles, but played only 28 of 67 snaps.
Needing as much cap space as they can, the Cowboys can feel better about possibly moving on from Justin Durant, which would save them $1.25 million in room, because of what Wilber was able to show them late in the season.
With an offseason to get even more comfortable at the spot, Wilber would figure to improve.