THE 2014 LINEBACKER BATTLE: Dallas Cowboys linebackers competing for starting spots | 2014 Dallas Cowboys roster
IRVING, Texas – A year ago at this time, the Dallas Cowboys linebacker corps seemed set in stone. With OTAs a week away and training camp on the horizon, that’s anything but the case in 2014.
THE EBERFLUS EXPERIMENTS: Defining Dallas Cowboys rookie LB Anthony Hitchens role means being tested inside and out
IRVING, Texas – Last Monday and Tuesday, Anthony Hitchens had to take final exams in sociology, earth science and sports promotion at the University of Iowa.
The first two days of the Dallas Cowboys rookie minicamp have been a more difficult test.
“It’s just starting out, so of course it’s supposed to be,” the fourth-round draft pick said.
Hitchens (31) moved to inside linebacker after playing on the weak side at Iowa (pictured above), where he led the Hawkeyes in tackles his last two seasons. He now has to call the defenses, call the checks and communicate with the entire group.
MEET YOUR NEW DRAFT PICK: Pro scouting report on Dallas Cowboys LB Anthony Hitchens | 4th round NFL Draft 2014
Anthony Hitchens | Position: Linebacker | College: Iowa | 6-0/240 | 4.74
He’s a compact looking player on tape. You can see that there is a lot of weight packed on his body. For his bulk, felt like there were some times where he was very physical at the point of attack and then others where he could have done a little bit better job with his shed. He’ll extend his hands. He does a nice job of finding the ball. Big fan of the way that he reacts. He’ll take on in the hole with his shoulder, then work to the ball.
When he lowers his pads, you see a much better player. There were some snaps where he unloaded on the ball carrier. There is some pop with him. He does a nice job of handling the puller on the trap. He needs to get off the block a tick quick at times, but something he will get better at. Will close down in the hole. He’s able to flow to the ball. There were times where he over ran the ball and was very aggressive.
When he can see it, he can make the play. He’s not a fluid-moving athlete in space when it comes to coverage. He’s more of open, drop and float. Didn’t see him drive back to put himself in position. Think he would be a much better player if he didn’t weigh 240 pounds. That might help his quickness, but he’s extremely tough.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Former NFL Scout
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HEAT-SEEKING MISSLE HITCHED: Dallas Cowboys ready to coach up Iowa LB Anthony Hitchens | NFL Draft 2014 – 4th Round
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
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.
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).
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.
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 …
Anthony Hitchens Combine Workout | 1:32 | Watch Iowa LB Anthony Hitchens work out at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine. (Watch | No MP3)