The Dallas Cowboys have a vacancy at starting safety this upcoming season. We’d be wise to not overlook second year defensive back Kavon Frazier.
Since Barry Church departed Big D for the sandy pastures of Jacksonville, the Dallas Cowboys are left with a massive hole in its secondary. Some are pointing to the top of the draft as a solution to the safety problem and others are dubbing career backup, Jeff Heath as the heir apparent.
But Cowboys Nation would be wise not to overlook second year pro, Kavon Frazier, from the discussion.
Frazier, a 2016 6th round draft selection from the Dallas Cowboys, has quietly been bidding his time on the Dallas depth chart. With the departure of Church and J.J. Wilcox, he will likely see more opportunities for playing time. But how exactly does he fit?
Scouts specifically named Barry Church as Kavon Frazier’s best NFL comparison prior to the draft
Marinelli’s in-the-box safety
For the past four years Barry Church has provided the Cowboys a steady presence at safety. His reliable tackling and aggressive nature has made him a perfect match for Rod Marinelli’s in-the-box safety.
Acting as almost an extra linebacker, the Marinelli strong safety is given sole gap responsibility against the run and added responsibility in coverage. Against the pass he must read and react quickly since he’ll often be playing so close to the line. He must play a combination of man and zone defense and be able to disguise his coverage.
Marinelli’s in-the-box safety is the blue-collar worker of the defensive backs. He doles out (and receives) a significant beating. At times the defense will call for him to drop back into more traditional deep coverage. But on the Cowboys defense, which likes to show a ton of single high safety looks, the strong safety is usually down in it.
Kevon Frazier’s Perfect Fit
Without much film to pull from last season, I went back, watched a little college film, and reassessed Kavon Frazier’s draft profiles from around the internet. What I found was a match made in heaven. In fact, Lance Zierlein specifically named Barry Church as Kavon Frazier’s best NFL comparison. It doesn’t get more perfect than that.
At 6’0” 220lbs, Frazier looks the part of a hard-hitting safety. Looking back on his college film on further proves his ability. He’s clearly a much better safety the closer to the line he plays. Much like Barry Church. In his NFL.com profile, Zierlein described Frazier as this:
"“Comes downhill looking for work in run support. Explodes through his target as a hitter and looks to make statements.”"
While Jeff Heath may have flashed big in the Dallas Cowboys’ season-ending loss to the Green Bay Packers, Kavon Frazier has been doing his part to make an impression on the coaching staff as well. His special teams play alone has all-but assured his spot on the depth chart, but his skill set almost makes him a perfect fit in Barry Church’s now-vacant role.
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"“We really like what we saw out of Kavon last year,” Stephen Jones said. “That’s where most of those safeties start to show up on special teams, which he did. We’ll bring him along too. And we may not be through yet in free agency.”"
Jones has been clear, he’s excited about Heath’s potential but he’s keeping this an open competition (assuming Jason Garrett agrees, of course).
It would be shocking if the Dallas Cowboys didn’t add another free agent body or a draft pick to the mix as well.
The Dallas Cowboys can’t afford to just expect Heath and Frazier to take their new roles. But whatever moves are made, Kavon Frazier appears to be the perfect man for the job.
One has to wonder if he was drafted last season for this very situation – replace Barry Church in 2017 when Church becomes a free agent.
Things will change exponentially for the Dallas Cowboys in coming days, weeks, and months. But as we stand now, Jeff Heath appears to be best suited for J.J. Wilcox’s part-time role on the backend, while Kavon Frazier’s place seems to be in the box where Barry Church once resided.