Off-season Priorities Pt. 4 [Safeties]

This is the fourth part of the weekly fan-post in which I evaluate the Dallas Cowboys Off-season Priorities. This week I will be focusing on the Cowboys Safeties. If you want to check out any of the previous articles published, the links are below.

Archive: Pt. 1 | Pt. 2 | Pt. 3 |

Last year one of the weakest positions on the defense was the safety position. Barry Church started the year with promise & flashed in training camp which ultimately led to him winning the starting job next to Gerald. Many of us fans were finally happy to see a solid secondary that would have Carr, Mo Claiborne, Church, & Sensabaugh on the back end. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be and Church suffered a partial tear in his Achilles in week 3 versus the Bucs. Danny McCray who led the team in special team tackles for 2 years running was then promoted to starter. Danny's inexperience at the NFL level severely handicapped the teams ability to run man coverage & schemes. Even though he was a proven tackler on ST's, Danny had never covered TE's & Wrs down the field which led to a lot of zone coverages. It did not help that Matt Johnson the safety we had drafted in the 4th round was also hurt & never played a single snap. Overall, it was a disappointing year at the safety position after showing some signs of improving early on in the season.

This years draft is one of the deepest drafts that I can remember. Not only is the safety position deep, but there are plenty of potential steals that will be available in rounds 3-7. Guys like Eric Reid, Kenny Vaccaro, Matt Elam, are obviously the cream of the crop, but Jonathan Cyprien & Thomas are names that are creeping up draft boards. Originally, I thought Vaccaro was a ball hawk and that Reid was overrated. My opinions on some of them have since changed after spending the whole week doing my school work and finding time to watch film on the safeties available in the draft. Lets not forget our own draftee Matt Johnson who was basically red-shirted after having a injury plagued year on the bench. I am a believer in Matt Johnson's ability to play in the NFL not only for his toughness & ball skills, but for his height (6.1'). Below I will list my top 5 safeties in the order that I rank them. I personally do not think any of the safeties deserve to go in the first round.

Name | School | Height | INT | Tackles | Drafted |

1. Kenny Vaccaro | Texas | 6.1 ft | 2 INT | 92 | 1-2 rd |

Summary: What stands out when you watch him is his ability to change direction. He can cover well and can even play the slot receiver when needed in the dime. He is an aggressive safety who is not afraid to blitz and shoot the gaps for a tackle. He had multiple games with double digit tackles. He is good at shedding blocks but does not have elite speed. Since he lacks elite speed he can sometimes outrun the play which leads to missed tackles. He may not be the ball hawk everyone wants him to be but is the most ready safety entering the draft IMO. Good coaching could help him on his technique & he could go late in the 1st round.

2. Jonathan Cyprien | Florida International | 6 ft | 4 INT | 93 | 2-3 rd |

Summary: I have Cyprien as my second best safety in the draft. I like his potential and could be a steal if taken in the third. He is another aggressive safety who loves to hit and has better speed & ball skills than Vaccaro. His main weakness is his ability to sometimes tackle his opponents way to high & take bad angles. If he can correct this he will be a possible starter Day 1. I think whoever takes him in the 3rd will be more than happy with him.

3. Matt Elam | Florida | 5-10 | 4 INT | 76 | 2-3 rd |

Summary: What Elam lacks in size he makes up for in speed & strength. He is always around the box & likes to blitz off the corner. He has great ball skills & like Vaccaro can cover the slot. His aggressiveness can sometimes hurt him because instead of wrapping up, he will go for the big hit. His size might hurt him when facing TE's or tall WR's but he has the athleticism to jump high and make a play on the ball.

4. Eric Reid | LSU | 6.2 ft | 2 INT | 91 | 2-3 rd |

Summary: Coming into the 2012 season, Eric Reid was widely regarded as the best safety in the country. It seems that loss of talent to LSU hurt his stock. He has good height, athleticism, and great instincts. He likes the big hit & can be a little too reckless when going in for the tackle. His recklessness led to him getting a lot of penalties this past season on the field. He has a tendency to lead with his shoulder rather than wrapping up but this could be fixed with coaching.He was inconsistent so don't be surprised if he fall to the third.

5. Phillip Thomas | Fresno State | 6.1 ft | 8 INT | 2-4 rd |

Summary: The reason I have Thomas at five is because of his ball skills & play-making ability. He not only amassed 8 INT, but he returned 3 for touchdowns. He is one of the safeties who is underrated but can help his stock in the combine & pro day. He does not have elite speed but does have great agility which helps him track down opponents & make plays when the ball is in the air. Has very fluid hips when changing direction and can jump vertically to make a play on the ball. One of the better physical tacklers in this draft, but can get burned because he likes to gamble. He would be a steal IMO if he fell to the 4th.

Overall, These are the top 5 safeties in this draft in my opinion. There are other safeties like D.J Swearinger, Kejuan Riley, and other safeties who could be steals in the later rounds. There are also safeties available in Free Agency that the Cowboys could pursue should they feel like taking that route. All but Byrd, Goldson(will cost too much) & Laron Landry(Hates the Cowboys) would be candidates to join. Click here to view all the safeties available in FA. Feel free to discuss & leave you opinions below.

Leave your comments below on who you think the cowboys should should draft or acquire in FA. Thanks for reading. - Moses

Part 5. Will evaluate the Running Backs.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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