Most Surprising: Donovan Wilson, S
The Dallas Cowboys have failed to address the safety spot in a meaningful way since Roy Williams left over a decade ago. Xavier Woods appeared to flash potential in his first few years since being drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 draft, but that’s all it has seemed to amount to for him – potential.
Donovan Wilson made his 10th start of the season Sunday against the New York Giants, and the second-year defensive back continued his impressive sophomore campaign as he recorded his second career interception.
The former Texas A&M standout was one of the few bright spots for Dallas in what was a forgettable season.
Wilson was just a sixth-round pick in 2019, but was arguably the Cowboys best defensive back since taking over the starting role in Week 5.
Wilson has already shown a knack for creating turnovers, a skill-set Dallas desperately needed.Wilson finished the season with 52 tackles, three forced fumbles, three sacks and two interceptions.
Most Disappointing: Leighton Vander Esch, LB
The most disappointing player was third-year linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. Yes, more popular names such as Ezekiel Elliott and Jaylon Smith are on the top of many people’s lists for this “honor,” but at least they were on the field.
If not for his week 15 absence, Elliott would have clinched his third consecutive 1000-yard season. Additionally, he’s running behind a line who had two projected starters in for the majority of the season.
Jaylon Smith led the team in tackles and played 98 percent of the team’s snaps. Vander Esch not only missed six games, but was virtually non-existent when he was on the field – which was for only 44% of Dallas’s defensive snaps this year.
He missed 16.7% of his attempted tackles (career worst), while quarterbacks had a 99.2 passer rating when going his way in coverage.
For someone who was seen as a possible replacement for Sean Lee it seems, thus far, he has adopted Lee’s durability rather than his on-the-field prowess.
Highest Potential: Trevon Diggs, CB
Trevon Diggs was thrown into the fire early in his rookie campaign with projected starters Chidobe Awuzie and Anthony Brown forced to miss time early in the year.
Diggs was far from perfect, but he did showcase his ability to turn the ball over. He finished the season with three interceptions and 14 pass breakups. He was also limited by poor safety play for the first quarter of the season.
Possible Trade: Michael Gallup, WR
As fun it is to dream about the potential of three 1000-yard seasons we saw that dream begins and ends with the quarterback. We also saw how meaningless that potential is when you boast one of the worse defenses in the league.
Michael Gallup will enter the final year of his rookie deal in 2021 and it’s hard to convince me the money will be there, nor should it be spent, to bring back another highly-paid offensive player.
Gallup has shown he is a legitimate receiver in this league, but Dallas can still place a top-tier receiving combination without him.
Amari Cooper finished with 92 receptions, CeeDee Lamb recorded 74 catches and Dalton Shultz caught 63 passes. With Blake Jarwin scheduled to come back you have to ask whether you would have luxuries at receiver or fill needs on the defense via trade of in draft capital.