The lack of investment in the safety position has been a hotly debated topic of fans of the Dallas Cowboys for years. And 2021 has been no different.
Electing to draft safeties in the sixth round three times over the previous five years, the Cowboys have been relying on day three talent to be passable as the backend protectors of their defense. The 2021 NFL Draft was no different as South Carolina cornerback Israel Mukuamu, yet another sixth-rounder, is being transitioned to safety this summer.
Outside of the draft, the Cowboys have also tried to use free agency to address their safety needs. Veterans like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and George Iloka have tried to fill that void recently and failed. This season, Dallas hopes their free agency signings turn out much differently.
The Cowboys, in fact, signed three safeties in free agency this offseason. And while Keanu Neal was shifted to linebacker, Damontae Kazee and Jayron Kearse were added to the safety depth chart in hopes of reviving the position.
Kazee, who led the NFL with seven interceptions as a safety in 2018, joins America’s Team as the penciled-in starter next to Donovan Wilson, after his breakout second season. But Damontae also suffered an Achilles injury last season and was placed on Injured Reserve after Week Four. So exactly when Kazee would be able to contribute was a concern.
Here’s what Hek’ma Harrison, an analyst for DallasCowboys.com, recently wrote on the team’s official website about what he saw from Kazee during his OTA debut in Dallas this past week.
"“Modern medicine has made some serious advancements, because Kazee seems to be showing zero effects from the injury. Kazee covered ground easily from the safety position, planted his feet and also changed directions smoothly. Kazee closes ground quickly and uses good angles getting to the ball.”"
This is terrific news for fans concerned with the safety position in Dallas. Kazee has proven he can be the ball-hawking, difference-maker in the secondary the Cowboys have desperately needed for years. And returning to play under new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s system should eliminate his learning curve.
Combined with the hard-hitting Donovan Wilson, Damontae Kazee figures to give the Dallas Cowboys the one-two punch at the safety position they’ve been missing. And the fact he’s played in Quinn’s system for years should help the entire unit get up to speed quicker. Kazee’s performance this summer will be one to watch.