Jerry Jones said the Cowboys drafted Iowa linebacker Anthony Hitchens because he can step in for middle linebacker Sean Lee if needed.
“We saw a guy who could run with size, and we saw one of the few inside linebackers that we thought could come in here and help us if we lost Sean Lee,” the Cowboys owner said. “So we saw a guy who could definitely improve us from where we were last year when we lost Sean Lee.”
Lee missed five games last year because of a leg and neck injuries and 10 games two years ago because of a broken toe.
Jones felt so compelled to find a backup for Lee that the Cowboys used a fourth-round pick for a player rated as a sixth- or seventh-round pick by many evaluators.
“With all due respect to the other evaluators, I would say that there is a lot of difference in a lot of players when you start getting in that fourth round, between this player or that player and whether we would have taken him,” Jones said. “We literally had him – as we’d been sitting there all day long – we had him there, too. We didn’t have him there in the third, we had him there in the fourth. We sat there all day long with him as one of the guys that we would use our fourth pick with at that time. I’d say that’s the difference in the eye of the beholder. He was productive.
“I think the other thing is that he can play some weak linebacker. He’s obviously got the power and the other thing I can say about him is that he did a good job of dropping back in pass routes. I’m not saying he’s Sean Lee, but he can drop back and get back and as Jason would tell you, we’re going to do a better job of doing that and playing the ball up in front of us. What he did do in his collegiate career is a real good job of getting back and getting in lanes. So that’s what we saw and is just right what we need.”
-- Carlos Mendez