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Thursday, July 1, 2010
Broaddus Breakdown: Outside linebackers

By Bryan Broaddus

Ninth in a series breaking down the Cowboys by position (previous entries):

Roster locks: DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Brandon Williams, Victor Butler

Good bets: None

On the bubble: Steve Octavien

Long shots: None

Anthony Spencer
Anthony Spencer was arguably the Cowboys' best player during the second half of 2009 with eight sacks in the final eight games. He finished with 79 total tackles.
I can’t think of a better outside linebacker tandem in the NFL. Over the last eight games of the season, Anthony Spencer played just as well as DeMarcus Ware.

Ware has incredible pass-rush techniques, never gives you the same rush and has top-shelf athletic ability. He has a great size-speed combination. He can rush inside or outside -- doesn’t matter. He’s always going to the football. He’s the type of player that offensive coordinators have to account for on every down. Wade Phillips does a good job of moving him around to help his effectiveness. He doesn’t get blocked in the run game. He’s a hard guy to hook, plays with leverage and strength at the point and disengages from blocks. He’s a dominant football player.

Spencer really came on after the Denver game last season. Known more as a run player, he became an effective pass-rusher as well. He’s not a one-trick pony. He has a variety of pass-rush techniques. He doesn’t give blockers much of a hitting surface. He’s good in coverage but needs to be used as a pressure player as often as possible. He has strong hands and holds up well at the point in the run game. He’s a complete outside linebacker.

Brandon Williams plays with explosiveness. He’s got good size and pass-rush instincts. He played with his hand on the ground at Texas Tech and probably still needs to learn a lot about the coverage aspects of playing outside linebacker, but you can see his explosiveness.

I had some hope for Victor Butler. I love his effort and intensity. I think he just needs more experience. He’s not consistent enough. He needs to learn how to perform down after down, but you can see that he has talent.