Broaddus Breakdown: Outside linebackers

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

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.