HEAT-SEEKING MISSLE HITCHED: Dallas Cowboys ready to coach up Iowa LB Anthony Hitchens | NFL Draft 2014 – 4th Round

HITCH HEAT-SEEKING MISSLE - Dallas Cowboys ready to coach up Iowa LB Anthony Hitchens - NFL Draft 2014 – 4th Round 1

IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys got back into the drafting swing of things today with a fourth-round pick.

Once again, the Cowboys addressed the defensive side of the ball, taking Iowa linebacker Anthony Hitchens.

In 2013, Hitchens (6-0, 240) was the Hawkeyes’ team MVP and lead the team with 112 tackles and 13.5 for loss with two sacks. 

Hitchens, a second-team All-Big 10 pick in 2013, ran a 4.74 at the scouting combine in February.

The Cowboys nearly went with an outside linebacker with the 16th pick with their eyes on Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier, who went one spot ahead to Pittsburgh, leaving them to take Notre Dame guard Zack Martin.

Hitchens is the second defensive player taken by the Dallas Cowboys, who traded up in the second round Friday night for Boise State defensive end Demarcus Lawrence at No. 34 overall. The trade forfeited their third-round pick.

At linebacker, the Cowboys have a lot of question marks, from Sean Lee’s injury history, Bruce Carter’s inconsistent play, and the unknown about Kyle Wilber and DeVonte Holloman switching positions.

Hitchens becomes the first Iowa player drafted by the Cowboys in 30 years. Ironically enough, in 1984 the Cowboys went with Hawkeye players in consecutive rounds, taking running back Norm Granger and guard Joe Levelis in the fifth and sixth rounds.


Hitchens was a productive tackler at Iowa, and comes with ideal size to play on the inside at the next level. He’s limited in space though. – NFL Draft Scout


OVERVIEW

Florida native who took initiative to move out of his biological parents’ house and live with a friend’s family in order to attend a better, safer school and remain focused on his football career. High school running back, linebacker and kick returner who had 3,864 career rushing yards and 52 touchdowns — earned four varsity letters in addition to playing basketball and running track.

Bounced between safety, linebacker and running back as a true freshman in 2010, recording nine tackles, zero for loss and zero sacks in 10 games played. Appeared in eight games in ’11, tallying 25-0-0. Missed five games because of a knee sprain. Started all 11 games at Will linebacker in ’12 and notched 124-5.5-1. Was the Hawkeyes’ leading tackler and Defensive MVP in ’13 — started all 13 games at Will and registered 112-13.5-2 with two pass breakups, an interception and two forced fumbles.

STRENGTHS

Aggressive tackler. Flows fast to the ball (when he sees it) and has good playing range to the sideline. Plays bigger than his size and does not back down from big-bodied blockers or physical runners (see Ohio State). Explosive hitter. Plays with a chip on his shoulder and is highly respected for his work ethic, makeup and overall approach. Is mentally and physically tough. Very durable despite lack of size (missed only one game in career).

WEAKNESSES

Is short and lacks bulk. Tends to play narrow-based and get rooted out of the hole on inside runs. Angles and anticipation could stand to improve — is late to sort out misdirection. Very average cover instincts — often is lured by play-action passing game. See-and-go reactor. Modest production for a weakside position where action is designed to be heavily funneled his way — leaves some on the field.

BOTTOM LINE

An active, undersized, run-and-hit weakside linebacker, Hitchens is at his best in a scheme where he is protected and free to run to the ball. Has shown gradual improvement.


Related video …

HEAT-SEEKING MISSLE HITCHED - Dallas Cowboys ready to coach up Iowa LB Anthony Hitchens - NFL Draft 2014 – 4th Round - combine

Anthony Hitchens Combine Workout | 1:32 | Watch Iowa LB Anthony Hitchens work out at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine. (Watch | No MP3)

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