Cowboys Positional Grades: Linebacker

With the 2014 season in the rear-view, let's look back at how the Cowboys did on a position-by-position basis. We'll look at starters and contributors, not every last man on the roster.

The Cowboys were expected to be a complete dumpster fire on the defensive side of the ball in 2014, but somehow they put a respectable unit out on the field. A big reason for that was the play of the linebacker corps that lost its best player in OTAs.

Grade: B+

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Given the gloom outlook heading into the season, this was probably the biggest pleasant surprise of any unit on the Cowboys roster. Sean Lee was lost for the season in OTAs and the Cowboys were going to have to lean on Rolando McClain — yes, Rolando McClain — to be a key figure in the middle of their defense. Turns out, McClain was a god-send, and was awesome when he wasn't battling injury himself.

The Cowboys also got a huge surprise from rookie Anthony HItchens, a mid-round pick out of Iowa who was seen as a special teams contributor this year and ended up being a star at linebacker. Grading on the curve of expectations heading into the season, this is probably an A+ unit, and it was the biggest reason for the Cowboys' surprising capability on the defensive side of the ball.

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