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Monday, April 28, 2014
Beyond the first round: Inside linebackers

By Calvin Watkins

Each day over the next 10 days, we will focus on one position in the NFL draft by highlighting a prospect in Rounds 2-7 who might fit for the Dallas Cowboys. With so much attention placed on the first round in mock drafts, "Beyond the first round" focuses on lesser-publicized options beyond the first 32 picks. Today we look at inside linebackers.

Second round -- Chris Borland (Wisconsin): He could go late in the first round, but with the Cowboys solid in the middle with Sean Lee, getting Borland could be a smart move given Lee's health history. Borland is a downhill run stopper and does a nice job of shedding blocks. He plays out of control sometimes, but teams love his aggressiveness to the ball. He doesn't back down from any challenge.

Third round -- Shayne Skov (Stanford): A hamstring injury prevented him from running the 40 at his pro day, but he did lift and he benched pressed 225 pounds 20 times. Skov said he wanted to get to 30. He can play in a 3-4 and a 4-3 scheme. Skov, who was a team captain at Stanford, has a high energy level but made an interesting decision to not attend the Senior Bowl. Skov is a solid tackler who doesn't miss many ball carriers. Louisville's Preston Brown is also a nice fit for this round.

Fourth round -- Yawin Smallwood (Connecticut): An interesting prospect who could go maybe in the second round, depending on how he fits certain schemes. Scouts are still trying to determine how fast he is. He's posted a 5.01 40 but injured his hamstring at the combine and didn't run it at his pro day. He's got good upper body strength and balance to handle tight ends and running backs.

Fifth round -- Max Bullough (Michigan State): He played better in 2012 than he did last season. A two-time team captain, he's a third-generation Bullough to attend Michigan State. His weight fluctuated from the end of the season to the East West Shrine game to the combine. It's listed at 249 pounds. He does a good job of diagnosing run plays and gets in the backfield. Sometimes he overreacts to the play-action pass and gets out of position.

Sixth round -- Brock Coyle (Montana): Impressed the scouts at his pro day when he measured in at 6-0 and 3/4 inches and 235 pounds. Displayed 40 times of 4.60 and 4.64 and benched 225 pounds 25 times. Last season, the co-captain averaged 9.6 tackles per game and ranked ninth in the nation in forced fumbles at .33 a game. According to Gil Brandt of NFL.com, Coyle had visits with the San Diego Chargers and Seattle Seahawks.

Seventh round -- Avery Williamson (Kentucky): He might go in the sixth considering where previous linebackers from his school, Danny Trevathan and Wesley Woodyard, have gone, late in the draft. He played through a strained ligament for the bulk of the 2013 season which hampered his tackling skills. When totally healthy, he's a solid tackler. Williamson is very good at the point of attack and doesn't back down from ball carriers.