It has been 17 years since the Dallas Cowboys valued drafting a safety with one of their top-2 picks. Back in 2002, the Cowboys selected safety Roy Williams from Oklahoma and he was a reliable starter for most of his career here. The team has struggled to really replace him since and the ones they draft seem to flame out quick. With a deep safety class this season in the draft, this should be the year they finally get a guy to solidify their backfield.
As of now, Xavier Woods is really your only safety that has a chance to be really special. Woods has developed nicely at the free safety position and with another year with secondary coach Kris Richard. The main problem is with the strong safety position. While Jeff Heat and Kavon Frazier have played well in that role, they haven’t really shown enough for them to take over at the spot. Here are a two safeties in this year’s draft in which the Cowboys could possibly pick at 59 in the second round during this year’s draft.
The dream scenario is trading up for safety Taylor Rapp from Washington. Multiple draft experts have ranked him the best safety in this year’s draft and he is considered to be ready to make an impact on day one. The biggest trait that the Cowboys would love about Rapp is his surefire tackling ability. While being known as a violent hitter in the run game, his coverage skills are also very good. He can cover tight-ends and backs up very well and according to Matt Miller of Bleacher Report, he is considered one of their best coverage safeties in this year’s class.
It seems his one glaring weakness is his debacle of a performance at his Pro-Day. Rapp ended up running his 40-yard dash between 4.72 -4.77 and that isn’t something you want from your starting safety. Yet, the tape shows an incredible player who can be a force in the run game and also can cover well. This could bode well for the Cowboys as normally this type of player wouldn’t fall out of the first-round. If he makes it to the second round, the Cowboys should highly consider trading up for him and making a splash.
While Rapp is more of a dream, Juan Thornhill is more of a reality for the Cowboys. The safety out of Virginia really fits the mold of the free safety position, but with his size and athleticism he can play across the secondary. So why Juan Thornhill?
The biggest thing about his is speed and athleticism, which helped him when he played cornerback for his first two years at Virginia. Those skills made him an excellent coverage safety, with excellent closing speeds. He also has a knack for being a ball hawk with 13 picks in his collegiate career. Another quality trait that would impress the Cowboys is that he is an excellent tackler, rarely missing any. Thornhill is looked at as a free safety, but really can play strong safety right next to Xavier Woods and will be fine. The two complement each other well and could be a very talented duo back there for the Cowboys.
There are some problems with Thornhill, including his size. He is listed about 6-0, 205 lbs, but doesn’t look the part. Also, since he is only been playing safety for one season, he still learning and that can be a risk for any team drafting him. The Cowboys have tried that in the past and it doesn’t always have the best results.
Despite that, Thornhill seems to have the skills and would be a great fit here working under Kris Richard and the defense.
Regardless of who they pick, the team needs to get better at their safety position. Finally, a deep safety class arrives and that is a blessing for a team that has lacked play-makers in their secondary for years.
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