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BTB Draft Mailbag: Safety First...Er, Last?

For this iteration of our draft mailbag, Longball answers a couple of questions about this year's underwhelming safety class. For most Cowboys fans, still haunted by recurring nightmares of blown coverages and corners exposed because they were expecting safety help over the top, upgrading the safety position has become an offseason priority. And, while the draft seems to be shaping up to fit the Cowboys' needs and where they have picks quite nicely (there are multiple options at positions such as OT, OG and DL at the top of the first three rounds), the exception to this is at safety, where there is no sure-fire first rounder--and perhaps no second-rounder in whom scouting types feel secure.

What to do? Might there be a sleeper candidate who fits Dallas' safety profile? A small-school stud with a big-time game? Is free agency the only reasonable option? Which free agents would provide an upgrade, much less excellence, at the position? Should the Cowboys find a bigger corner who can tackle and try him out there? As opposing quarterbacks drop back, will we be forced to watch through our fingers, horror movie style? Well, sit back, grab a soothing drink (you'll need one when discussing this year's safety class), and let Longball satisfy your inner draftnik.

Before we get to this week's questions and answers, I'd be remiss if I failed to remind you to email any draft-related questions to us at BTBmailbag@ I'll collect them and send 'em down the pipeline so you can get your knowledge on.

Speaking of knowledge, read Longball's sage insight after the jump...

Scottmaui: After Alan Ball's disappointing season, free safety is a consensus top need for the Cowboys, but this draft class is notably lacking elite safety talent. Rahim Moore from UCLA is considered the top safety in the draft, but because demand is greater than supply do you think he's overvalued and not worth a pick at 40? And would his style of play be a good fit for our needs anyway?

Long Ball:  Personally, I would not invest #40 on Rahim Moore and here's the reason why: if a team has gone through a season to "earn" a top-ten pick, there are a number of holes that cannot all be filled in the draft.  The real value of that draft position is in the 2nd round, where prospects with 1st round grades start falling and a team realizes value.  Moore has a late 2nd round grade (which is more indicative of a weak safety class) and did not duplicate his sophomore season of '09 last year, when he recorded 10 interceptions.  His range and coverage ability would make him a good center-fielder option, but he only displays average anticipation and instincts and his tackling leaves a lot to be desired (only posted 11 reps at the Combine), which is not a good attribute for a Rob Ryan defense.  

Is there a safety on the board who we could have any confidence could actually start for us at FS this season and be an upgrade over Ball, or is our only real option to sign a free agent? (whenever that finally can happen)

Long Ball: I hate to disappoint you, but unless we get a shot at Peterson (and I believe he will start his career at CB), I wouldn't look for a starting FS (in 2011) out of this rookie class; if you have read my other interviews with OCC and Rabble, you know that I prefer youth and wheels at CB (go cover that receiver) and the 6 inches between the ears at safety.  If you review history, Dallas has had 3 rookie safeties start for them:  FS Cliff Harris/Charlie Waters (Charlie took over when Cliff had to fulfill his service requirement their rookie season)...and they had Pro Bowl Cornell Green at SS to coach them through, FS Michael Downs, and he had SS Charlie Waters to tell him where to line up, and SS Roy Williams, who had FS Darren Woodson to tell him who to hit.  Now, if we draft a safety, who is going to tell him what to do on the field during a game?
AustonianAggie: What do you think Tyler Sash will do as a Pro? How long until he's on the field as a defender, if ever?

Long Ball: I like smart, hard-hitting football players that have been well-coached in college - and I like Kirk Ferentz's Iowa program!  Sash will do well in the right system!  If he can go to a team that runs a Tampa-2, where the safeties are interchangeable and responsible for only ½ of the field, he will prosper.  His football speed is faster than his forty time due to his anticipation and he is a sure-tackler - he will start out (and most likely, make his name) on special teams and then look for him to challenge for a starting position on defense his 3rd year (if not his 2nd).

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