With two veteran safeties currently free agents, could the Dallas Cowboys consider adding one with their first round selection?
The Dallas Cowboys safety position has been one of many ups and down in recent years. But veteran strong safety Barry Church has been a cornerstone of this defensive unit for several seasons. Now that the 29-year old is a free agent, it’s unknown if Dallas is willing to re-sign him.
Two years ago, the Cowboys used their first round selection to draft Connecticut defensive back Byron Jones. After spending his rookie season primarily at the cornerback position in Dallas, the Cowboys cemented Jones as their starting free safety in 2016.
Could the Cowboys look to fill Church’s void in that same manner? The good folks over at Walter Football seemed to think so. In a recent mock draft, they slotted Michigan safety/linebacker Jabrill Peppers to Dallas in the first round, 28th overall.
"“Both Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox happen to be free agents, so the Cowboys could select Jabrill Peppers if he’s available. As discussed in a recent NFL Draft Rumor Mill entry, teams are split on whether Peppers is a first-round prospect or not. If the Cowboys like him, I’m sure they’ll think he provides great value at No. 28.” – WalterFootball.com"
This certainly would be a case of taking the best player available over need for the Cowboys. Even with the future of both Church and J.J. Wilcox still up in the air, Dallas currently has safeties Jones, Jeff Heath and Kavon Frazier returning to their roster in 2017.
CBS Sports Rob Rang compares the 6-foot-1, 208 pound Peppers to former Pittsburgh Steelers great Troy Polamalu when it comes to playmaking ability. Likely the most versatile player of this draft class, having played a whopping 15 different positions, part of the reason the talented athlete may fall to the Cowboys is the fact other teams may simply not known where to best play him. For a coaching staff that absolutely covets position flex, that shouldn’t be an issue in Dallas.
Peppers is a consistent, physical tackler with terrific instincts. But he lacks coverage skills and his aggressiveness can cost him. But he is absolutely a playmaker, something the Cowboys have been desperately needing in their secondary. But Peppers success will likely be determined by how well his coaches utilize his unique skill set at the next level.
Peppers recorded 111 tackles, 18.5 tackles for a loss, 11 pass defends, and one interception in his last two years at Michigan as a linebacker. He also rushed for 239 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 5.3 yards per carry on offense. Peppers also returned kicks and punts during his time with the Wolverines.