Dallas Cowboys: Is this rookie the next Darren Woodson?


Earlier this week, Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones finally made the long overdue announcement that former All-Pro safety Darren Woodson will be inducted into the franchise’s Ring of Honor this upcoming season.

This has been a long time coming and should only help Woodson’s bid to have his bust placed in the Hall of Fame, much like it did for former defensive end Charles Haley, who will be enshrined in Canton, Ohio with the rest of the 2015 Hall of Fame inductees.

The news of Woodson finally being inducted into the Cowboys Ring of Honor is somewhat bittersweet.

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Woodson is perhaps the best safety to ever wear the Star on his helmet and was an integral part of the success that the organization achieved back in the early 1990s.

Throughout his career, Woodson recorded an incredible 864 tackles. 702 of which were solo efforts. He accounted for 17 forced fumbles and recovered 11 dropped balls. He also collected 23 takeaways for the Cowboys defense via interceptions and even recorded 11 quarterback sacks. He was voted to the Pro Bowl five times and was also named All-Pro on three occasions.

All of Woodson’s accolades are Hall of Fame worthy. But they are even more impressive if you account for the fact that he was kind of a player without a position coming out of Arizona State, where he played linebacker.

Former defensive coordinator at the time, Dave Campo, perhaps made his most significant contribution to the Cowboys organization when he found an undersized linebacker and saw enough potential in to convert him into one of the better safeties to play a game. Campo saw a player that could hit like a linebacker and have the athletic ability to cover like a cornerback.

The Cowboys drafted Woodson in the 1992 NFL Draft with their 37th overall pick in the second round.

Woodson would go on to play his entire career in the Cowboys uniform and retired after the 2004 season. Which, by the way, he had to sit out due to a herniated disc in his back.

Since Woodson’s retirement Jerry Jones and the Cowboys organization has been unable to find a player capable of coming anywhere close to replicating what Woodson was able to do in the secondary. Fortunately just such a player might have arrived.

With the 27th pick in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys select Byron Jones, defensive back out of the University of Connecticut.

Jones is the definition of versatility. During his collegiate career at the University of Connecticut he started is first two years as a safety and his final two years as a cornerback.

His athleticism first stood out at the 2015 NFL combine and caught the eyes of many scouts, which led them to to do further research and analysis of his collegiate career.

The Cowboys finally might just have the player that can fill the void that Woodson left in the secondary when he retired over a decade ago.

Woodson was a valued member of the Cowboys defense during his playing career and it was because of his versatility to line up at different spots in the secondary.

Just like Woodson, Jones could possibly become a valued member of the defense because of his versatility. The coaching staff has already started to line him up at different positions to try and find the best way to utilize his skill set/athleticism.

Jones is kind of a player without a position right now because the coaching staff is lining him up at several different positions. Already in training camp he has lined up at safety, outside cornerback, in the slot, over the tight end in the dime defense, and even a few practice repetitions at linebacker.

It’s not for lack of talent that Jones doesn’t have a clearly defined position yet, it’s more about the experimentation of finding the best way to use him in the defensive scheme.

The secondary for the Cowboys over the last several years has been considered one of their weak links. With the addition of Jones and his versatility, he could help strengthen the the back end of the defense into one of the better secondary units in the NFL.

Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has thrown a lot at Jones thus far, and the rookie defensive back has done nothing to suggest that he is not up to the task at hand.

Jones has shown a mental preparedness that is refreshing to see in a rookie and the fact that he has been able to play so many different positions in the secondary so far is encouraging.

It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that he has been able to remain mentally prepared. In fact, his mental makeup is one of the things that probably attracted America’s Team into drafting him in the first-round.

He was an intern for US Representative Elizabeth Esty, as well as Connecticut State House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz prior to pursuing his career in the NFL.

That’s quite a resume for just about anyone, especially someone who is pursuing a career in the NFL.

Hopefully, the addition of Jones to the defense of the Cowboys can help solidify a secondary that has been lacking over the years and also help lead the team back to the Super Bowl.

I can see where given time fans will finally be able to embrace Byron Jones much like they did with Darren Woodson.

What do you think the chances are of Byron Jones turning into a Darren Woodson type player for the Dallas Cowboys?

Next: Dallas Cowboys: Is the Hall of Fame next for Darren Woodson?