Why Xavier Woods will become a breakout star in 2019

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Even though the Dallas Cowboys missed out on top tier safeties, the secondary will be just fine. Expect Xavier Woods to be a breakout star in 2019.

The Dallas Cowboys failed to land free agent safety Earl Thomas this offseason, who is now a member of the Baltimore Ravens. Over the weekend, America’s Team signed veteran safety George Iloka. This move provides both depth and versatility to the back end of the defense.

Iloka can play both spots at safety. However, he is expected to start at the strong position and replace starter Jeff Heath. The Dallas defense played terribly against the Los Angeles Rams in the playoffs, but Heath really struggled in that game and down the stretch of the regular season.

However, there is a bright spot at free safety with Xavier Woods. Drafted in the sixth round of 2017 NFL draft, Woods improved in his second year.

Earlier in his career, Woods looked awkward as he appeared to be thinking too much. In 2018, he seemed to play with a lot more instincts. Woods recorded two interceptions and 56 total tackles in 14 games last season.

Every week, Woods would make a highlight hit stick tackle or pass breakup. He makes his presence known. In today’s NFL, it’s rare to see a hard-hitting safety. But Woods still embraces his physicality. His ball skills are improving as well as he sees the field more and gets more opportunities.

In 2018, Woods allowed a passer rating of 70.0, per Pro Football Focus. To put this in perspective, current free agent safety Eric Berry‘s career passer rating allowed is 87.5. This does not mean that Woods is going to become Berry, but he is a rather productive safety.

With another year in defensive passing game coordinator Kris Richard‘s system, Woods is only going to be more comfortable. He’s overcome most obstacles that have been thrown at him. If Woods can work on one thing, it would be consistency.  On a few plays, he was late on reading what is in front of him and he would get beaten deep outside.

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Kris Richard may not have gotten his golden boy, Earl Thomas, in free agency, but he has a fresh young stud that could be turned into a Pro Bowler. Every year, someone takes the next step and surprises the league. Xavier Woods might be the next.

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