Breaking Down the Dallas Cowboys’ Safety Position: J.J. Wilcox
The Dallas Cowboys secondary finished at the very bottom of the NFL in 2013. The Cowboys gave up 27 points per game and 415 yards per game in that very forgettable season. The pass-rush was abysmal, as was the coverage. Cornerbacks played without confidence often playing with poor technique and step behind. Safeties looked lost, overmatched, and out of position to make routine plays.
The Cowboys are deep into a defensive line rebuild already but absolutely nothing has been done to address the secondary. With high priced CBs Brandon Carr & Orlando Scandrick on the roster already, the secondary already accounts for its share of money. Throw in former first round pick, Morris Claiborne, and you can see the Cowboys have invested a hefty amount.
The next few days we will look at the safeties. With limited money and draft picks invested in the 2 safety positions, it’s easy to see why upgrading here may be in the Cowboys best interests. We started by looking at SS Barry Church.
Today we look at JJ Wilcox…
Clearly the most intriguing safety on the Cowboys’ roster is J.J. Wilcox. Wilcox is extremely raw and extremely talented. He’s a pure athlete, physically able to succeed in virtually any role if given the time and opportunity. For majority of his time at Georgia Southern, Wilcox was an offensive weapon. He was a halfback and slot receiver totaling 964 rushing yards, 898 receiving yards, and 17 TDs.
His senior year he boldly transitioned to the opposite side of the ball playing Strong Safety for the first time. Although obviously raw, his ability stood out on film and after only one year at safety he was considered a 2nd/3rd round draft pick with vast potential.
The Dallas Cowboys selected him in the 3rd round of last years’ draft (80th overall) and never looked back. The new project player wasn’t expected to start in 2013 but was prematurely thrust into the role because of team injuries, cuts, and general underachievement.
The Cowboys played different coverages with different responsibilities in 2013. Wilcox had a very tough time learning them well enough to be effective as a safety. He flashed great potential but wasn’t reliable consistently enough to nail down the spot. He struggled in the film room and in practice and (together with injury and personal tragedies) lost his job to the much less-talented Jeff Heath.
The Cowboys play a great deal of single high safety with SS Barry Church in the box and the FS playing deep centerfield. Wilcox will need to drastically improve his knowledge and field awareness as the single high safety if he wants to succeed as a FS. Wilcox has all the skill and potential in the world but if he’s not sure what to do, or hesitates just the slightest, he will fail.
Here’s hoping he takes that all important step in his development and becomes the player we all so desperately want.
Do you have questions or comments regarding Dallas area sports? Email Reid at [email protected]. You may be included in the next weekly mailbag. Follow Sport DFW on twitter @TheRealSportDFW Check out more of Reid’s articles here: http://sportdfw.com/author/reidhanson/