Position: Outside Linebacker
Size: 6'3, 255
Age: 27, 1/23/84
Drafted: Round 1, #26 - 2007
Experience: 4 Seasons
Salary History and Contract Status: 7/26/2007:Signed a five-year, $7.453 million contract. The deal included a $4.475 million signing bonus. Another $1.5 million is available through incentives. 2009: $481,000, 2010: $741,000, 2011: $1.001 million, 2012: Free Agent
2007 Draft Profile From OurLads: (ranked 4th best DE behind Gaines Adams, Adam Carriker, and Jamaal Anderson) Anthony Spencer - Purdue - 6'2, 261, 4.73 (40 time): Three-Year starter. Good athletic ability and playing speed. Excellent acceleration off the ball. Redirects very well and plays with good leverage and knee bend. Can defeat the blocker with good hand use. Controls and separates. Can stuff and shed. Has the feet to move and disengage. Using a low pad level he can walk offensive tackle back to the quarterback. Can turn and bend and be a factor in short and long pursuit. Relentless. Takes good angles. More than just a pass rusher. Can play the run with strength and explosion. Effective against the wide running plays. Clears his feet. Can't be hooked or pinned inside. Can play in space. Has some raw edges. Needs technique refinement and a consistent inside move rushing the passer. Natural outside 3-4 rush linebacker. Can also play in a 4-3 scheme. All teams use a little of everything. Plays the right and left side equally as well. Has played with his hand on the ground. Will use a series of speed and rip moves to rush the passer. Productive senior year. An ascending player that plays hard. A good athlete that can run and chase on plays away. First/Second Round.
Pre-2010: The Cowboys took Spencer in the 1st round of the 2007 Draft after they traded up to get him. The Cowboys traded a 2nd rounder (Kevin Kolb), a 3rd rounder (Stewart Bradley), and a 6th rounder to the Eagles for the rights to the #26 pick in the 1st round which they used for Spencer. If they would have stayed put at #36, they could have drafted Lamarr Woodley from Michigan. Instead, Woodley has 39 sacks in his 4 seasons in Pittsburgh (playing in a 3-4 as an outside pass rusher) and Spencer has 15.5 sacks in Dallas. They then released Greg Ellis after 2008 to make room for him, and the sacks have just not been there. 2009 was thought to be his true breakout, as he spent much of December of that season as flat out dominant. His season total of sacks + QB hits + QB pressures was a very acceptable 65.
2010: After 65 successful pass rushes in 2009, we all made the mistake of thinking Spencer had arrived as a potential Pro-Bowl level player. Instead, that number dropped all the way down to 37 this season - with only 5 sacks (and 3 in the first 15 games - or 1 more than Victor Butler). He played in more plays than any other defender except Alan Ball, and with 953 plays, you simply must get more than 5 sacks. There is no question that he is very good against the run, and I do wonder if any fans see the value in that given that some appear to want to walk away from him altogether. ProFootballFocus.com grades him as the 6th best pass rusher on the team behind Ware, Jay Ratliff, Jason Hatcher, Stephen Bowen, and Butler. Simply unacceptable in that department.
2011 Analysis: Likely just one season from free agency, we should not be surprised to see a big year from Spencer under Rob Ryan. Of course, we should also not be shocked if the Cowboys look for an edge rusher high in the draft to try to find the bookend for Ware that has never quite developed as many had hoped. Again, he is in his prime and he oozes talent. He is very difficult to run against and he can cover in space. But, when you compare him to OLBs in 3-4's across the league, the #1 priority is always going to be disruptive plays against the passing game. And Spencer has always been a tease. Always working against a right tackle, Spencer must get there more often if he wants a big contract from the Cowboys or anyone else. This is a very big year in his career to prove what he is all about. He has many doubters locally.