The Dallas Cowboys had one of the worst defenses in the history of the NFL… Take a moment to let that set in. A large part of that had to do with the subpar play from the safety position. Barry Church is a good strong safety, but he isn’t special. Opposite of Church, Dallas saw how horrific the duo of J.J. Wilcox and Jeff Heath was. I’m not a fan at drafting a safety in the first round, but it could be the sexy pick that Jerry Jones would love.
Who would you rather see starting at free safety, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Calvin Pryor? These players are the blue-chip free safeties in this class, and both play with a ton of tenacity that NFL clubs would love. Both are ball-hawks, and both can put their shoulders down and make a big hit. The big difference is that both are different types of players. Clinton-Dix excels against the pass, while Pryor is more productive in the running game.
It is widely known that if you have a defensive line that gets after the quarterback, the secondary thrives off that. With the injuries to Anthony Spencer and Jay Ratliff, and the banged-up version of DeMarcus Ware, the Cowboys never had a good pass rush. In fact, Dallas used 17 different defensive linemen throughout the season. How can you have a consistent pass rush if you are starting new guys each week? So far in the 2014 offseason, the Cowboys have basically gutted their entire defensive line from 2013. The only starters left are George Selvie and Nick Hayden, and both were only starters because Spencer and Ratliff were both injured.
With the new additions, Dallas will be much healthier on the defensive line. That will help out the secondary tremendously. In my opinion, the Cowboys have three solid cornerbacks in Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick, and Morris Claiborne. It’s in the defensive backfield where they lack playmakers. That’s the biggest reason why the Cowboys may draft a free safety early.
If it came down to Clinton-Dix or Pryor, I would have to choose Pryor because he brings a type of swagger that would be loved in Dallas. The Cowboys haven’t had a safety like Pryor since Darren Woodson. If the Cowboys can generate a consistent pass rush, Pryor could make an impact right away for this team. With some NFL seasoning, Pryor could improve his flaws against the pass.
Dallas could also look towards the later rounds for a free safety. Some options there include Ahmad Dixon or Marqueston Huff. I honestly believe Dallas should give J.J. Wilcox another year to prove himself, but competition never hurts. Competition is something Jason Garrett truly believes in, and the Cowboys will most definitely select a safety sometime in this year’s draft.