The Dallas Cowboys most neglected position has suddenly become a strength. Safety, the position the Cowboys seem to aggressively avoid each and every draft cycle, has seen a resurgence of late in Big D. Not only do they have the front-line starters to protect the secondary, but they also have depth needed to survive a season.
The rest of the NFL may be sleeping on this underrated unit but the Dallas Cowboys certainly know what they have…
The Dallas Cowboys have quietly built an impressive safety corps which will pay dividends in 2021
Assuming the offensive line bounces back to levels of play we’ve grown accustomed, the Dallas Cowboys should once again boast one the NFL’s best offenses. Finishing in the top-5 last season, Dallas has constructed a pick-your-poison attack that’s all but guaranteed to rack up points against a variety of defenses.
The cause-and-effect reality of that situation tells us opponents will be determined to keep up on the scoreboard. This will place a tremendous amount of pressure on the Cowboys secondary – particularly on the backend.
It’s safe to say this “backend” welcomes the opportunity.
Dallas Cowboys Safety Malik Hooker
Former Indianapolis Colts first round pick, Malik Hooker, enjoyed a bounce-back season in Dallas last year. Not long ago his injury-marred NFL career conjured up mentions of the dreaded bust label, and it was unknown if he’d ever be the player scouts envisioned when he led college football in interceptions at Ohio State.
Coming off a 2020 Achilles injury he signed a prove-it deal with Dallas late last offseason. With Dan Quinn he showed improvement on a weekly basis, and most importantly of all, he stayed healthy. The Cowboys were so impressed with his rediscovered trajectory they made him a priority re-signing; inking him to a two-year, $8 million deal on March 15.
Dallas Cowboys safety: Donovan Wilson
Joining Malik Hooker at safety is 27-year-old Donovan Wilson. Like Hooker, Wilson has been a tough evaluation as a pro. When he’s on the field, he’s dynamite (technically speaking, or course). The problem is he’s not always on the field.
Wilson has never been able to play a full NFL season and last season’s 337 defensive snaps were exactly half of what he took the year prior. While he only played in nine games last season, the former Texas A&M product was once again impactful when the opportunities came.
“Dono” has shown a nose for ball throughout his NFL career and looks to cash in big, this his final season before free agency.
Dallas Cowboys safety Jayron Kearse
Stabilizing the unit is last year’s surprise breakout player, Jayron Kearse. Kearse came to Dallas as nothing more than a depth piece and fringe journeyman. What he accomplished was nothing short of phenomenal.
Kearse was Dan Quinn’s “master key” to the defense. He unlocked a variety of doors, serving a variety of roles. Part linebacker and part safety, Kearse showed the ability to dominate the box, playing both the run and pass at a high level and serving as a leader on the Dallas D.
Kearse’s 1014 snaps played had him on the field for 94% of the Dallas Cowboys defensive snaps. It was his durability and steadfast play that allowed the Dallas Cowboys patience to ease players like Hooker and Wilson back onto the field. And he’s once again the cornerstone upon which this Dallas Cowboys safety corps is built.
Dallas Cowboys safety: the rest of the bunch
Rounding out the safety group is second year players Israel Mukuamu and Tyler Coyle. Both players offer diverse skillsets that can translate to the NFL game. “Izzy”, with his length and Coyle with his jaw-dropping athleticism (more on these players later in the month). Even Florida A&M rookie UDFA, Markquese Bell should be able to offer things as a developmental prospect and situational depth piece.
The 2022 Dallas Cowboys safety room is one of the most talented we’ve seen in years. It has the potential to do big things this season and help stabilize the back half of Dan Quinn’s ascending defense.
The needle is pointed up at the safety position