So according to just about everyone, our cornerback situation has been resolved. But what about our safety crop? Are these gentlemen anything more than a stop-gap? Just who do we have on our roster and what are their abilities? Are they a better fit as a Strong Safety or a Free Safety? Does it really matter in Rob Ryan's system? After all, he likes the safetys to be interchangeable. Let's take a look at each player and what they are best suited to.
Gerald Sensabaugh 6' 0" 210lbs. 29yrs old at the start of the season.
He has mostly played as a Strong Safety during his career. But he actually is above average in coverage as such. 14 INT's and 34 PD's in 69 career starts. He is not spectacular or flashy. What he is though, is fairly consistent. He averages about 55 solo tackles each year. Sensi is a versatile player that can man either SS or FS.
Brodney Pool 6' 2" 210lbs. 28yrs old at the start of the season.
He has mostly played as a Free Safety during his career. As such he has never made much of an impact in the turnover department. 13 INT's and 50 PD's in 67 career starts. Below average numbers for a FS, but above average if he had played as a SS. He averages 41 tackles per year. He arguably had his best year in 2009 playing as a Strong Safety.
Barry Church 6' 2" 218lbs. 24yrs old at the start of the season.
He has one career start and that was at the strong safety spot. He plays well in the box on sub packages. He is used mostly as a hybrid LB/SS in 4/5/2 alignments. I haven't noticed any qualities in him that show he would have the free ranging closing speed needed to play as a FS on a consistent basis.
Danny McCray 6' 1" 222lbs. 24yrs old at the start of the season.
No career starts. 1 career INT. Used in many of the same ways as Barry Church. He is built and plays more in the mold of a SS. Both he and Church make their bread and butter as Special Teamers.
Akwasi Owusu-Ansah 6' 0" 210lbs. 24yrs old at the start of the season.
He has started only 2 games in his career. AOA has been a project that has been back and forth as a DB and FS. He also was used as a kick returner with not much flare. His best position in the NFL will be as a FS. He does not have the skills to play man coverage. But he does possess the speed to close in and contest balls in the air.
Mana Silva 6' 0" 206lbs. 24yrs old at the start of the season.
He was a standout at Hawaii. He had 14 career INT's as a FS at Hawaii. With 4.43 speed and 40" vertical, if he shows up in camp, he could be a nice surprise. He is a sure tackler and does not shy away from contact. Versatile enough in college to play either FS or SS.
Eddie Whitley 6' 0" 187lbs. 22yrs old at the start of the season.
He is a player that has no real shot of making the team. There is nothing of his game that pops. Either on tape or in his stats. If he were to pull off a miracle, it would be as a FS. He has neither the strength or weight to play SS.
Justin Taplin-Ross 6' 3" 214lbs. 23yrs old at the start of the season.
He is listed as a CB, but is being played at safety. He is a thumper with rangy ability. With his size and speed, Dallas will give him every opportunity to make the 53. He is more of a FS or CB, but can play SS if needed. He is my personal surprise player of 2012.
Matt Johnson 6' 2" 220lbs. 23yrs old at the start of the season.
17 career INT's from a player that supposedly cannot cover. From a player that is supposed to be strictly a strong safety. Anyway you slice it, I think the scout reviews everyone has read be-lie the fact that the man can cover! I look for him to take Pool's spot at FS by no later than game 8.
So there we have it. 5 players that have the ability to play either position. 2 that are strictly strong safetys. And 2 that are strictly free safetys. I see us keeping 10 DB's total. 4 safetys, 5 cornerbacks and 1 that could play either. That means 5 of these guys are not going to be on the 53 man roster at the start of the season.