Dallas Cowboys Should Avoid Safety in the First Round

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Dec 28, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; Louisville Cardinals safety Calvin Pryor (25) waves his arms to the crowd in the fourth quarter as theCardinals beat the Miami Hurricanes 36-9 to win the Russell Athletic Bowl at Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 28, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; Louisville Cardinals safety Calvin Pryor (25) waves his arms to the crowd in the fourth quarter as theCardinals beat the Miami Hurricanes 36-9 to win the Russell Athletic Bowl at Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

This is precisely why safety prospects like Hasean Clinton Dix of Alabama and Calvin Pryor of Louisville, both underclassmen, make little, if any, sense for Dallas in Round 1.

In recent years, safeties have come and gone for the Cowboys. Consider the following names, which only date back to 2010: Gerald Sensabaugh, Alan Ball, Ken Hamlin, Michael Hamlin, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Danny McCray, Abram Elam, Barry Church, Matt Johnson, Mana Silva, Will Allen, Jakar Hamilton and Jeff Heath.

Now, that’s a lot of safeties to have come in and out of Valley Ranch in about four years. After all of those guys, only Church seems to have locked down a starting job for the future, and rightly so.

Is this just remarkably bad luck for the Cowboys—or is there a greater problem that lingers year after year?

Dallas must first decide how to force more third-and-long situations. This process begins with stopping the opposing rushing attack, not generally the responsibility of a safety. Further, Church fits the mold of a strong safety who’s already on the roster as a capable run-stuffing secondary defender. The four-year veteran led the team in tackles last season with an incredible 135.

Assuming that there’s no change in Church’s job description or position, and I can’t imagine why there would be, the Cowboys need to be looking for more of a coverage safety—or do they?

Let’s shift to the offense right quick: The Cowboys spent a sixth-round selection on tight end James Hanna in the 2012 NFL Draft. But instead of addressing much more important issues as early as the second round of the ’13 player selection meeting, there was Dallas spending a premium draft choice on another tight end, Gavin Escobar. The former San Diego State pass-catcher ended up amounting to a third-string player at his position.

Back to the defense: Dallas spent a third-round pick on free safety J.J. Wilcox last April. Like Escobar, Wilcox wasn’t exactly seen as an opening day starter primarily due to his level of competition in college. A lack of experience at his respective position was also an issue for Wilcox. Still, the rookie inspired the Dallas coaching staff to release Allen in favor of a younger, more athletic prospect early on last season.

So, now what?

Well, Wilcox needs to be on the field as much as possible heading into his second season as a pro. Drafting yet another guy at his position not only stunts his growth—remember he’s a Round 3 acquisition—but would also cost the Cowboys another player at a position of much greater importance, like defensive tackle, defensive end or offensive guard. Even offensive tackle outranks safety as a potential position of need given the fact that right tackle Doug Free enters a contract year as we speak. I expect Free to be next season’s version of veteran defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, a veteran who’s play has improved when it counts but also a guy that Dallas likely won’t be able to afford moving forward.

A safety in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft in May?

No way—there’s simply too many other glaring holes for the Cowboys to try to fill and not very many chances or them to do that. Dallas needs to find out if either Wilcox, Johnson or Heath can be the answer before investing in yet another safety that might not even be good enough to surpass the players that the Cowboys already have at the position. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones must stop drafting depth players during the first couple of rounds of these selection gatherings, especially when there is never any cash for free agent spending.

If Dallas wants to fix its defense, the trenches are where that project has to begin. The good news for the Cowboys is that the coming draft is very well stocked with candidates to fill numerous voids for a defensive front seven that needs an infusion of youth and talent.

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Tags: Barry Church Calvin Pryor Dallas Cowboys HaHa Clinton-Dix NFL Draft

  • SmartThinking

    At round one, draft an OG!!! The kid from Baylor looks good. Mizzou has a really good one this year who can play Guard and Tackle (unfortunately, not at the same time).

    If the Dallas brain trust, and I use the term loosely, plays the draft wisely, they can fill several holes with quality players who won’t need a year to heal from some previous college injury or want a truckload of money just to show up.

    I really like the DE, Hageman from Minnesota and many draft reports have him available for Dallas in round two. I’ve seen one draft report that has this kid Kony Ealy everyone’s so ga ga over going in the second round as well.

    For rounds three, four, five and the three number seven’s, go defense all you want.

    This team doesn’t need any more WR’s, TE’s, RB’s or QB’s draft picks! Those players are just more grist for the mill. Besides, there’ll be plenty of all of them show up as UDFA’s.

  • Juanito Juanito

    the first round pick in 2014 draft should be louis nix DT notre dame or timmy jerrigan DT from florida state, in second round pick should be aaron donald DT pitt or will sutton DT arizona state, thats tha weakiest position in the team, ask carolina panters how they improve is defense with two DTs selections in last draft

    • ctcowboy1968

      Spot on Juanito. Panthers went from #14 run D to 2nd best in the league by drafting two DTs in round 1 and 2 last spring. Rookie starters day 1. That’s drafting!

  • Juanito Juanito

    jj wilkox will be ok when be healthy, if seattle doesnt have that kind of DTs or DEs the secondary or seafties could be stars ?

  • ctcowboy1968

    DT is the way to go. Take Nix if he is there. Draft another DT or DE in the second. Don’t draft any player that had an injury last year or has an injury history. Draft players that can start in the first year, not players that need to developed for two years.