Can a rookie step right in and fill Anthony Spencer’s shoes?

I know.  I’m borderline obsessive at this point.  Apologies, but I keep finding compelling reasons not to franchise tag Anthony Spencer, a notion that, again, makes absolutely zero sense to me.  The latest argument I’m hearing a lot of is that a rookie can’t (won’t) step in and play as good as or better than Spencer.  While I certainly believe that a rookie might not play as well as Spencer has for the Cowboys, they most certainly can, and if you use the 2011 draft as a testing ground, they did indeed play better than Spencer last season.

In the first 4 rounds of the 2011 NFL Draft, there were 5 rookies that were drafted with the intent of playing OLB in a 3-4.  Here’s that list:

Player Team Round Overall Tackles Sacks FF INT
Aldon Smith 49ers 1 7 37 14 2 0
Ryan Kerrigan Redskins 1 16 63 7.5 4 1
Brooks Reed Texans 2 42 45 6 0 0
Justin Houston Chiefs 3 70 56 5.5 1 0
Sam Acho Cardinals 4 103 40 7 4 0

Amazingly, Aldon Smith did his damage in just 616 snaps. Sam Acho did his in just 575, and Justin Houston in 775. The only two players on this list with comparable snaps count numbers to Spencer were Ryan Kerrigan (1056) and Brooks Reed (930). Spencer saw 939 snaps.

Spencer’s numbers here. Are his shoes really so hard to fill that you want to pay him $8.8 million in 2012?

*Note from the editor: Just to be clear, the above rookies from the 2011 draft were not “cherry-picked.” Those were ALL the rookies taken in the first 4 rounds with the intent of playing OLB in a 3-4.


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  11. Blue Eyed Devil says:

    Jack, topics like franchise tagging Anthony Spencer are great because it allows us an IQ test of various media types.

    Paying Anthony Spencer $8.8 million dollars is Al Davis levels of stupid. It’s something that wouldn’t even be considered for a second by a good GM. So it allows us to see which of our media types have two brain cells to rub together and which have no clue how to construct a team in the salary cap era.

    Thankfully, you passed the simple test by correctly ascertaining that an average OLB isn’t worth elite money. Congratulations. Bob Sturm, Rainer Sabin, and Kegbearer failed. Let me know if you’ve noticed any other NFC East writers we need to add to the “dunce” list.

    1. Ha, I would guess that more than half of them are FOR franchising him. I actually had to go back a few times to make sure there wasn’t something I’m missing, but the more I dig, the more it becomes abundantly clear that he should walk.

      1. Blue Eyed Devil says:

        Turns out today we need to add Stephen Jones to the dunce list.

        It’s getting real hard to be a Cowboys fan these days…

  12. xwalker says:

    Why not put Spencer’s numbers and the snap count numbers in the chart? It would be more convenient and would help make your point.

  13. Seanrude says:

    First of all, your obsession with Spencer and the idea of that franchising him is insane is doing nothing to diminish the notion that you are a secret Cowboys fan.

    Second, to answer your question, yes, I think a rookie can step in and be an average (at best player). Add in that Victor Butler can also contribute at the position and franchising Spencer looks like one of the more harebrained ideas that has come from the Cowboys’ brain trust in the past 15 years, and that covers a lot of harebrained ideas

    1. Ha, fear the Star, baby.

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