The Dallas Cowboys believe they have a budding star in safety Xavier Woods. And one Hall of Fame executive agrees with their assessment.
On paper, the Dallas Cowboys‘ current roster doesn’t seem to have many weaknesses. Sure, there are some questions about depth, especially at quarterback. And health is a major concern as Pro Bowlers like defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence and cornerback Byron Jones are rehabbing from offseason surgeries. Plus, All-Pro center Travis Frederick is attempting to return after his battle with the autoimmune disease Guillain-Barré syndrome.
But if the Cowboys can overcome those concerns this summer, they’ll likely field the most talented roster we’ve seen in Dallas in several years. And, once again, America’s Team has Super Bowl aspirations heading into a new season, which is nothing new for Cowboy fans.
If Dallas has one weak link, it might be the safety position. Starters Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods held down the position last season and helped the Cowboys’ defense limit opposing offenses to just 20.3 points per contest, which was tied for the sixth lowest amount in the NFL last year.
Despite their success, the Cowboys did attempt to trade for All-Pro safety Earl Thomas in early 2018. And though Dallas did not sign the pricey six-time Pro Bowler as a free agent this offseason, they did bring in former Kansas City star safety Eric Berry for a visit, inked veteran George Iloka to a one-year deal and drafted Texas A&M’s Donovan Wilson.
Despite all of the above, the Cowboys have never wavered in their belief that Woods is a budding star at the safety position. That presumably means if Dallas did bring in a top-tier safety, it would be to replace Heath in the starting lineup whom many believe would be a better fit as a pure special teams ace and core back up.
Here’s what former longtime Cowboys executive and member of the 2019 NFL Hall of Fame class, Gil Brandt, wrote recently on NFL.com about Woods rewarding the team’s faith in him this upcoming season.
"“Though safety was considered the biggest weakness on the Cowboys’ roster entering this offseason, Dallas did not go all out to land a big-money player like Earl Thomas. I expect Woods to justify that strategy by taking a big step forward in 2019 … Woods will be a key contributor this season to a defense that ranked seventh overall and sixth in scoring in 2018.”"
Brandt also pointed out that second-year passing coordinator and defensive backs coach Kris Richard predicted Woods would generate more turnovers in 2019, building on his two interceptions from last season, the most of any defender in the Cowboys’ secondary.
A former sixth-round selection out of Louisiana Tech back in 2017, Xavier Woods took over the starting safety role from Byron Jones last year and posted career-highs in tackles (56), pass defends (9), and interceptions (2). With the full confidence of the Dallas Cowboys behind him, Woods is set to have a breakout season in 2019. Now the only question is whether he actually will.