Critics claim the Dallas Cowboys biggest weakness is the safety position. Yet, a cornerback hasn’t led this team in interceptions since 2012.
The Dallas Cowboys didn’t use the 2019 NFL Draft to select any players from Boise State University. It’s only disappointing after I boldly predicted that the Cowboys would select their record setting quarterback Mark Rypien. Rypien went undrafted, but will be reportedly signed by the Denver Broncos. After my prediction, it’s safe to say that I’ll occasionally glance at Rypien’s during his NFL career.
If I had conducted a little more research, I might have realized that 2019 wasn’t the right year for the Cowboys to add players from Boise State. The Cowboys drafted Boise State players in the following years: 2008: Orlando Scandrick, DB; 2012: Tyrone Crawford, DE; 2014: DeMarcus Lawrence, DE; 2018: Leighton Vander Esch, LB and Cedrick Wilson, WR. If you haven’t noticed the pattern, the Boise State connection only works in even calendar years.
While I might have been incorrect about Boise State and Rypien, the Cowboys draft picks showed that the front office doesn’t consider the safety position to be an area of major weakness. The strong safety position is held by the team’s third leading tackler and future Hall of Famer Jeff Heath, that automatically makes it a position of strength. Most people are focused on the lack of interceptions by the defensive secondary and that’s due to a number of reasons.
Interceptions are often caused by aggressive cornerbacks jumping routes. They are created when quarterback pressure from the front seven (defensive linemen and linebackers) cause off-target pass attempts.
Baltimore Ravens Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed led the league with 11 in interceptions in 2008. Reed was closely followed by Pittsburgh Steelers great safety, Troy Polamalu with eight interceptions. Two more safeties followed: Michael Griffin of the Tennessee Titans (seven interceptions) and Nick Collins of the Green Bay Packers (seven interceptions).
Since 2008, the only year that a safety exclusively led the league in interceptions was 2014 when Glover Quin of the Detroit Lions had seven interceptions. The Dallas Cowboys had a total of nine interceptions in 2018 and only three of those interceptions were by cornerbacks. The majority of interceptions should be expected to come from the cornerback position.
The Dallas Cowboys do not have a safety problem, they have a cornerback problem. Let’s discuss that the Cowboys 2015 first round draft pick, cornerback Byron Jones has two interceptions in four years. I understand that Jones bounced between safety and cornerback. Current Los Angeles Rams cornerback Marcus Peters was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2015 and has a total of 22 interceptions.
In 2017, Jeff Heath led the Cowboys with three interceptions. In 2014, linebacker Bruce Carter led the Cowboys with five interceptions. I could keep backtracking in history, but the last cornerback to lead the team in interceptions was Brandon Carr with three picks in 2012. Cornerback Terence Newman tied linebacker Sean Lee with four interceptions in 2011. Newman also had five interceptions in 2010, which led the team.
I’m aware that the critics claim the Cowboys biggest weakness is the safety position. I don’t think you should jump on that bandwagon. Instead, Cowboy Nation and cornerbacks coach Kris Richard needs to demand better production and more interceptions from the cornerback group. #MakeCornerbacksGreatAgain