The Real Safety the Dallas Cowboys Should Target

Damarious Randall . (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Damarious Randall . (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /
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Damarious Randall, Safety, Cleveland Browns (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Damarious Randall, Safety, Cleveland Browns (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /

Ball Skills

In five years, Randall has accumulated 14 interceptions and 47 pass deflections. In his two seasons as a safety, Randall has accumulated four interceptions and 15 pass deflections. Although all four interceptions came in one year, both totals would rank tied for the highest amongst all safeties on the current Cowboys depth chart alongside Xavier Woods. (Woods has four interceptions and 14 pass deflections)

While the previous defensive scheme did not call for ball production, Randall clearly shows the ball skills necessary to make plays on the ball and create turnovers. This is great news for a team that is now emphasizing the creation of turnovers on defense.

Mental Processing in Zone and Range

Randall was good enough for the Browns at safety to warrant playing on a fifth-year option. What made him an effective safety was his ability to cover the middle 1/3 and deep 1/2s of the field. He displays good pattern recognition, range to overlap routes in both zones with his good change of direction, agility, and body control, and good transition quickness with his good foot speed and solid explosiveness out of his break.

A good example of this was against San Francisco where he stopped the same route twice against George Kittle and Deebo Samuel.

Both plays happened with different safety alignments, but regardless of the coverage he showed the ability to read the QB’s eyes and recognize where the receiver was coming from in order to make the play. Even on this completion to Kendrick Bourne, his pattern recognition and mental processing prevent this completion from becoming a more substantial gain.

At his worst, Randall will stare down the QB and react too late. While this did result in some scores and catches, this still doesn’t happen often enough to diminish his role as a starter. After all, his mental processing is good, not elite.

What makes these clips even more important is that Randall shows the ability to cover deep 1/2s of the field. With Dallas Cowboys coaches, Al Harris and Maurice Linguist, as the new DBs and Secondary coach, the team will likely use more two-high alignments with the hopes of playing more match-style coverages. Randall displays the change of direction, good foot speed, and pattern recognition to defend the deep 1/2 of the field.

In 2019, Randall was targeted 21 times and allowed 13 completions. (62 percent) In 2018, Randal was targeted 35 times and allowed 23 completions. (66 percent) While he did play less in 2019, the decrease in completion percentage shows progress in his coverage ability.

Open Field Tackling

The Sun Devil has accumulated over 240 solo tackles and eleven tackles for loss in the last five seasons. As a safety, Randall has totaled 117 solo tackles and five tackles for loss. For someone listed at 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, he doesn’t often miss tackles, and it is not because ball carriers break from his grasp.

The Browns let him blitz more this season and it showed in the stat sheet. Randall sacked the quarterback two and a half times this season; Randall had yet to sack anyone prior to the 2019 season. On this sack against MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson, he displays good timing on the blitz and good competitive toughness and motor to tackle Jackson even after he breaks his first tackle.

On the play above, we do see a more passive Randall as he misses the opportunity to tackle Breida because he isn’t fast enough. Making bold declarations like “he can’t be your last line of defense” would be foolish here as Breida was once clocked running a 4.38-second 40-yard dash. However, this rare occurring, yet significant issue might be mitigated with more two-high alignments as more defenders are deep down the field to make a play on the ball carrier.