Tuesday, March 01, 2011
Position: Defensive End
Size: 6'4, 315
Age: 28, 3/8/83
College: Louisiana State
Drafted: Round 1, Pick 20, 2005
Experience: 6 Seasons
Salary History and Contract Status - 2011: currently an unrestricted Free Agent.
2005 OurLads.Com Draft Profile: Top Rated DT in 2005 Draft - Marcus Spears - LSU - 6'4 - 307 - 5.03 - Three-year starter who played some tight end as a freshman. Good athletic ability to recover and regain balance. A three-for-one type player. Left end to play the run and stack the double teams. Is quick enough to get into pass rush. Quick feet and hands. Lacks the upfield edge burst to be a ten sack per year player, but could handle the tight end and anchor in reduction as a right defensive end. Could also help as a defensive tackle to be a quick penetrator as needed, an upfield push the pocket type pass rusher, or work upfield and control rush lanes. Plays within the defensive scheme. Keeps contain and plays with outside leverage. Better on plays at him than plays away. Inconsistent long pursuit effort. Disruptive player who gets hands up on rush. Good lateral quickness and use of hands. Plays the game on his feet. Quick reactions and instincts to find the ball. Flashes edge explosiveness and sudden movement. Uses an effective push-pull technique. Has good initial quickness but lacks burst to the Quarterback as he gets upfield. Will get stuck on big offensive tackles at times. Totaled 49 tackles, including 9 sacks and 17 tackles for loss and 21 quarterback hurries in 2004.
Pre-2010: Spears was drafted by the Cowboys in the 2005 draft with the pick that was gained from Buffalo in the 2004 trade down when the Cowboys passed on Steven Jackson and ended up with Julius Jones because the Bills wanted QB J.P. Losman. Then, if you believe the stories that have been told since Bill Parcells left town, the word was that Parcells wanted to take Spears at #11 before being over-ruled for DeMarcus Ware by Jerry Jones and the scouts. Nine picks later, Spears was taken by the Cowboys and along with Ware the pair would be billed as the elite pillars of the new Cowboys 3-4 defense. Billed as the best DT in the draft (although it was a very weak year at that position) and a disruptive player out of LSU, Spears has always been reasonably solid, but never disruptive for more than a blip. In 6 seasons, he has totaled 8 sacks. And while many will tell you that a 3-4 DE is never going to have gaudy statistics, 8 sacks in 6 years is flat-out disappointing. And the Cowboys would confirm this disappointment as they have just taken him off the field on 3rd Down for much of the last several seasons. It is difficult to get sacks if you aren't even on the field. Against the run, he has always been solid, but in 2009 had a very difficult year there, too, according to the game graders at ProFootballFocus.com.
2010: Last season really never got off the ground for Spears in what was thought to be a big year potentially as he played for his next contract. Spears sprained a knee in training camp knocking him out of action for the entire month of August. Upon his return, he played at a reasonable level against the run and was never a liability. Still, only 2 QB pressures and 1 QB hit (0 sacks) in 8 weeks made the Cowboys DE tandem of Olshansky and Spears anything but disruptive. In week 9, the Cowboys suffered their worst loss of the season at Lambeau Field against the eventual Super Bowl Champion, Green Bay Packers. In that game, among other things that went wrong, Spears tore his calf muscle and was lost for the year. He was replaced by Stephen Bowen, who ended up playing pretty well in his stint at the spot, with 27 pressures, 4 hits, and 2 sacks. Bowen also was allowed to stay on the field in passing scenarios.
2011 Analysis: If Spears would have been a 4th Round pick, chances are we would view his career with the Cowboys much differently. He is a very big voice in the locker-room and a respected team leader. However, he was a highly-compensated 1st Round pick where upside and big plays were promised - and yet, seldom delivered. In the end, it appears that the Cowboys will be fine with letting him walk away and attempt to find someone much more dynamic to take his spot. The defensive line has very little sizzle aside from Jay Ratliff, and it is important in this DL-heavy draft that the Cowboys figure out how to find players who cause much more stress on their opponents along that defensive front.