The Dallas Cowboys are built of a collection of various parts serving various roles. Some players are cornerstones, upon which the team is built. Other players are developmental pieces who represent the future. Some are depth pieces, in place to protect from injury. And then there’s others who aren’t quite so easy to peg down.
It’s this last category, the “wildcards” if you will, that could tip the balance of the season. If they work out, the Dallas Cowboys could be in store for an extremely successful campaign. If they flame out, we can expect quite the opposite
Today we are looking at three wildcards on the Dallas Cowboys this season
We start with someone flying just under too many radars, Malik Hooker…
Dallas Cowboys veteran wildcard No. 1: Malik Hooker
The Dallas Cowboys took a flyer on Malik Hooker last season and it seemed to pay off. The former first round pick had an injury plagued NFL career up until then, and needed a team and an opportunity to get back up to speed and prove he had something to offer.
As the 2021 season progressed, so did Hooker. The Dallas Cowboys eventually gave him the bulk of the snaps at free safety. This offseason the Cowboys signed him to a two-year deal, hoping the health continues and the play keeps advancing.
Given his sorted history, it would be irresponsible to bank on Hooker reclaiming that Ohio State magic that once made him a top pick, but he still has that Pro Bowl talent within in him, and could be a major difference maker if he can only stay healthy.
What makes him such a wildcard is what he brings the defense when he’s on the field. Hooker has range and a nose for the ball. He’s the only player equipped with skills to play a single-high role and he can move around and play a variety of coverages and assignments without falloff.
If Hooker isn’t on the field, Donovan Wilson will need to play more deep safety. While he’s been fine in this role, he’s better suited to play in the box where his skills are best utilized. Jayron Kearse doesn’t factor much in since he’s primarily in that SAF/LB hybrid role Dan Quinn designed for him.
So while it looks like the Dallas Cowboys are deep at the safety position, the reality is they are banking on each player to serve a specific role and if one can’t do it, the ramifications are felt down the roster.