Draft Talk: Perfect Free Safety for the Dallas Cowboys


Rod Marinelli’s desire to play Single High Safety lacks one very critical element – a single high safety. Here’s one man who could fill the role and not cost the Cowboys a top pick.

Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox are fine football players for the Dallas Cowboys, unfortunately neither play free safety very well. Whole some teams don’t employ a true free safety, Rod Marinelli’s single high safety calls for exactly that.  Think of Earl Thomas and the Seattle defense.

Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox are both fairly one dimensional safeties who play much better in the box and closer to the line of scrimmage, than they do sitting back in deep coverage. They each have their own struggles in coverage but whether it’s manned up against a TE in the box, or sitting back in a deep zone, ballhawks they are not.

Take a look around the NFL and see the league is starved for reliable deep safeties. After Earl Thomas there is a substantial fall-off in talent. The draft hasn’t been very helpful as of late either. The past few years there have only been a handful of players with strong deep coverage skills. This year is no different, offering up a variety of heavy-hitting safeties but severely lacking coverage men (or even well-rounded players).

As I’ve said before, you don’t need to draft strong safeties anymore because they are virtually everywhere. Coverage safeties are the rare commodity worthy of high draft picks. They are perhaps the rarest players to find these days.

This years’ draft may not offer the transcending ballhawk that Earl Thomas is, but it does offer an option that could fill the need as the deep safety. And it won’t cost the Cowboys a premium first round pick either.

Adrian Amos from Penn State is a safety with excellent coverage skills, range, and discipline. He clocked a 40 time of 4.37 (faster than most CBs) yet he’s built like a safety standing 6’0” 218lbs and benching 21 reps of 225lbs.

Adrian Amos has fantastic range in coverage and is every bit quick as he is fast. He moves fluidly and takes good angles (something J.J. Wilcox struggles with). He’s been a team leader at Penn, diagnosing plays, calling coverages, and lining up the defense. He’s never missed a game in the last three seasons proving his durability.

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In coverage, it seems as though his only weakness is his lack of risk-taking. He’s extremely disciplined in his zone coverage and will forgo

making a play the ball

, if it poses a risk. This is certainly something many Cowboys fans can deal with, considering Dallas’ long history of fielding safeties who notoriously take risks, and give up the big plays anyway. It may be nice to have a safety who’s…safe.

This isn’t to say Amos lacks ball skills. He’s managed to display great ball skills when the situation warranted it. In fact, according to Pro Football Focus, last season he spent a third of his time lined up over the slot giving up only 14 catches for an NFL Passer rating of 13. That is an amazing number for any player, let alone a safety.

The only true weakness of Adrian Amos is his tackling. He may be built to deliver the big hit but he rarely does. This is something Rod Marinelli would have to overlook because Amos will likely always be a somewhat below average hitter.

The key trait is obviously Amos’ coverage ability. He’s brilliant in zone and has had amazing success manned up against slot receivers. He’s smart, he’s a leader, he’s durable, and he’s rare. Projected by NFL.com as a 3rd or 4th rounder, and by CBS as a 2nd or 3rd rounder, Amos would likely have to be Dallas’ 2nd round pick.

The Dallas Cowboys have made their interest in fellow free safety, Damarious Randall, well known. But most project Randall to fall somewhere in the upper half of the 2nd round. Unless the Cowboys reach in the first, or trade back to the second, Randall may elude the Cowboys while Amos would fall into their laps at just the right spot.

Dallas may have more pressing need at CB and pass-rusher, but they have a shot at upgrading a very critical (and scarce) position with Adrian Amos.

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Next: The Steal of the Draft

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