Sep 3, 2011; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Mak Barron (4) wraps up Kent State Flashes wide receiver Tyshon Goode (5) at Bryant Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-US PRESSWIRE

Safety First With the Dallas Cowboys


To say the Dallas Cowboys were inconsistent at the safety position in 2010 is an understatement to say the least. Dallas ranked 26th in pass yardage allowed in 2010 and the inconsistencies followed suit once again in 2011. A year in which the Cowboys defense yielded 12 more passing yards than previously in 2010. Along with an anemic pass rush much of the of Dallas secondary issues have stemmed from the Cowboys being inconsistent at the safety position since Pro Bowl safety Darren Woodson retired in 2004.

Teetering back-and-forth on what exactly the Dallas Cowboys should do with the 14th overall pick in this April’s upcoming NFL draft and until free agency runs its course one can only speculate at this point as to what the Boys in blue are to do…nonetheless a conclusion has been brought to pass.

Every fan of the Dallas Cowboys knows that the need of a space eating nose tackle that can collapse the middle of the pocket in Rob Ryan’s defense is paramount. Equally as such is the need of a shutdown cornerback who can damper the offensive production of the oppositions number one wide receiver.  Lack of a ball hawking safety, interior lineman issues, both depth and linebacking issues opposite DeMarcus Ware and a quality pass rushing defensive end all follow suit and lend to the myriad of positional issues for Dallas going into the 2012 NFL season.

Which issues get resolved via free agency and which are addressed via the NFL draft? Where exactly do the Cowpokes begin?

Some Dallas faithful believe the interior offensive line needs to be addressed early on along with the cornerback position. But if Dallas does not commit the fourteenth overall pick on guard David DeCastro then do not fret. Those faithful few can breathe a huge sigh of relief in knowing that Mike Mayock recently stated, “In the first three rounds, you can get a lot of quality at center and guard.”

Should the Cowboys re-sign Abram Elam? Elam knows Ryan’s defensive scheme, but he might want a long-term deal. But then do the Cowboys faithful really want to see another season without a game changing safety occupying the secondary?

Speculation that Terrance Newman will be cut has many fans clamoring for a first round cornerback but,  thanks to Landry Hat cohort Greyson Jones, only 17.2% of cornerbacks drafted in the first two rounds have been named to the pro bowl since 2004. The Cowboys fanatic faithful will clearly look past this stat due to the glaring hole that needs to be addressed undoubtedly. But rest assured that value in the second round will certainly be available and no one can guarantee that Dre Kirkpatrick will be the shutdown corner that most Dallas fans desire to have.

One interesting note found from Rotoexperts.com’s NFL scout Jayson Braddock on Dre Kirkpatrick: “Dre benefited from playing with a safety like Mark Barron behind him and became too dependant upon him.”

The analyst also intimated that Barron’s style of play and ability to cover ground is what allowed Dre Kirkpatrick to thrive in the Alabama pro-style defense and that without a safety such as Barron to play behind the young cornerback prospect, Kirkpatrick, could struggle with his transition to the NFL.

Team general manager Jerry Jones has failed miserably at addressing the safety position since losing Darren Woodson to retirement in 2004. Whiffing on draft picks such as Roy Williams and Tony Dixon and then signing free-agent band-aids Ken Hamlin, Gerald Sensabaugh and Abram Elam, to place over the seven year gapping hole left by Woodson’s departure, only lends proof to Jones’ failure as a general manager to address the all-important position.

Bryan Broaddus surmises it best, “As other NFL teams have been able to fill this all-important position, the Cowboys have continued to struggle to find the right mix.”

If Jerry Jones decides to not re-sign Abram Elam then Jones’s is even less likely to throw big money at San Francisco 49ers free agent safety Dashon Goldson. Goldson will not only be a tough buy from the bay area after having a career year playing behind a stalwart front seven in San Francisco but the twenty-seven year old safety’s price tag has escalated.

If the Dallas Cowboys are dead set on drafting the best player available when the time comes this April then the obvious choice should be to go with Alabama safety, Mark Barron.

Not that Mel Kiper Jr. is the end all be all when it comes to draft analysis but just like Mike Mayock and Todd McShay, who have all had their hits and misses, Kiper Jr. seems to agree. Kiper Jr. admits to debating between Kirkpatrick and Barron himself, “I debated those two for Dallas and Barron is the better player. You take the better player. He has the better ball skills and he’s a safety.”

For the mainstays within the Dallas secondary both Mike Jenkins and Gerald Sensabaugh don’t seem to be going any where any time soon. Sensabaugh has performed well at times and looks to continue to be a mainstay in the Dallas defense for at least a couple more seasons and drafting a young, strong, and physical safety to play alongside Sensabaugh seems to only make sense for the Cowboys in this year’s upcoming NFL draft.

Many analysts and draftniks alike felt as if Alabama safety Mark Barron wouldn’t be available when Dallas is on the clock but due to a recent double sports hernia Barron could likely slide to the Cowboys at the 14th slot.

The Dallas Cowboys can’t possibly address all the team issues with this years draft but coupling the draft with free agency the Cowboys should be able to find a happy medium using the two means to end the positional needs going into the 2012 season.

Mark Barron is a playmaking ball hawk who can punish ball carriers and does forcibly so. Barron being a student of the game by spending ample amounts of time in the film room only lends to his being an instinctive player who engages well at the point of attack. Barron can sometimes be overly aggressive but has both the make-up and mentality to become a physical imposing force on the field.

NFLmocks.com had this to safe about the Alabama safety: Mark Barron will bring a hard nosed winning style of play to any NFL team that decides to draft him.  He possesses above average size and speed for the safety position and utilizes those abilities to make a difference on the field.

There is no denying that the Dallas Cowboys need to improve a the pass rush along with their secondary but lets not forget that New York Giants pass rushers Osi Umenyiora, Michael Strahan and Justin Tuck were drafted in the second and third rounds. All these current and former NFC East rivals were and are quality pass rushers who were drafted outside the first round of the NFL draft.

You can hit me up on twitter @j0eo1s

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Tags: Abram Elam Alabama Crimson Tide Dallas Cowboys Darren Woodson Dashon Goldson Gerald Sensabaugh Jerry Jones Ken Hamlin Mark Barron Mel Kiper Jr. Mike Mayock NFL NFL Draft Rob Ryan Roy Williams San Francisco 49ers Todd McShay Tony Dixon

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