The Dallas Cowboys head into the offseason trying to figure out how to turn around a franchise that is neck-deep in the quicksand of mediocrity. They must decide who should stay, who should leave, and which positions to target in the draft. We have been breaking down the Cowboys’ roster position by position, and here we are focusing on the safety position.
Darren Woodson retired in 2003, and since then, the Cowboys have been searching for a comparable replacement. The problems at safety are not due to a lack of trying. Dallas has used multiple draft picks in the last five years trying to find a safety. The problem is that they have drafted guys like Michael Hamlin in 2009 and Akwasi Owusu-Ansah in 2010, instead of talented guys like Kam Chancellor. In 2012, they selected Matt Johnson, who has been injured much more than he has been on the field.
In 2013, their best safety was Barry Church, who played pretty well, leading the team in tackles. However, he still struggles some in pass defense. Church is only 26, so he still has the potential to get better. I don’t believe he will ever be great, but he can be a solid part of the secondary if Dallas puts better players back there with him.
In the 2013 draft, the Cowboys selected J. J. Wilcox, hoping he could contribute right away. Unfortunately, Wilcox struggled early and often, and even had trouble beating out Jeff Heath for playing time. The Cowboys will give Wilcox every opportunity to succeed, but it is up to him to take advantage of it.
The other Cowboys’ safeties honestly would not make most teams’ roster. Jeff Heath tries hard, but he is just not a NFL caliber player. The fact that he was a starter for most the year speaks volumes about the kind of mess the Cowboys’ defense really is.
Safety is the second weakest position on the team. Because of this, the Cowboys will be forced to look at safety again this year in the draft. It’s not ideal to pick players at the same position in the draft year after year, but that’s what happens when you continually miss on your picks.