By Matthew Postins
Meet Anthony Hitchens, the Cowboys’ Fourth-Round Pick
The Dallas Cowboys selected Iowa outside linebacker Anthony Hitchens with their fourth round (No. 119 overall) selection on Saturday afternoon. Find out more about him below:
Height, Weight: 6-foot, 240 pounds
Rankings: CBSSports.com ranks Hitchens as the No. 355 overall prospect and the No. 31 draft prospect at outside linebacker. CBSSports.com graded him as an undrafted free agent.
The skinny: Has totaled 260 career tackles to tie for 27th… ranks sixth in the Big Ten in tackles per game (8.5) and eighth in tackles for loss (1.08)… led Big Ten and ranked fifth in the nation in tackles per game (11.2) in 2012… recorded 10 or more tackles in seven of 11 games in 2012 and five games in 2013… one of six seniors named to 2013 Leadership Group… one of nine true freshmen to see action in 2010…Roy J. Carver Most Valuable Player, Defense… Hayden Fry “Extra Heartbeat” Award, Defense… second team all-Big Ten by league coaches… honorable mention all-Big Ten by league media… named CFPA honorable mention Linebacker of the Week vs. Michigan… selected by College Sports Madness as Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for his play in win at Iowa State… named second team mid-season All-Big Ten by Phil Steele… named honorable mention mid-season All-Big Ten by BTN.com…Named to Butkus Award and Rotary Lombardi Award preseason watch list… named preseason third team all-Big Ten by Phil Steele and College Sports Madness.
What Cowboys are getting: A player that, at least based on the grades I see from respected sites, feels like a reach. Scouts do like his explosiveness coming off the snap, which is a positive when you’re attempting to chase down ball carries from that side of the field. Scouts also like his overall physicality at the point of attack and his fundamentals. Iowa used him effectively in blitz packages and on special teams. Scouts want him to wrap up ball carriers better, as he uses speed to finish off hits, and they’re concerned about his overall field awareness in pass coverage. Fourth-round picks come with limitations, no matter who they are.
Postins’ Take: The competition at weak side linebacker, if the Cowboys choose to play him there, should be interesting. Bruce Carter is entering the final year of his contract and the Cowboys are going to use this year to decide if they want to commit a second contract to Carter. Last year’s sixth-round pick, DeVonte Holloman, showed some flashes late last year and the Cowboys are high on him. Add Hitchens to his mix and the Cowboys have some real options at that position. The real question is whether they believe Hitchens has some flexibility. At 240 pounds Hitchens is big enough to back up Sean Lee in the middle or even play the strong side. The Cowboys will probably move Hitchens around frequently during the ramp-up to training camp to see where he fits best. It’s a bit of a stretch to believe he’ll be a starter in 2014. But he could be a consistent backup and special teams contributor.
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