The Dallas Cowboys have been looking for that safety that most often has been described as a "unicorn". The ballhawk much like Sean Taylor, Ed Reed or Troy Polamalu. They are very few and far between. That is why scouts salivated at the thought of Matt Johnson after watching his college tape. Chris Hackett seems to fit that role.
Free Safety, Texas Christian University
When you look at the boxscores it shows that Hackett does what you would expect at free safety. A good free safety needs to come up and stop the run or assist with tackling. He also needs to create turnovers and break up passes. Hackett does all of these if you look mainly at his numbers.
|Statistics courtesy of Sports-Reference.
One of the most important skill sets for a safety is his range. How easily can he get to a point on the field to assist in coverage? For Hackett it would seem that his best range is between the hashes. Sideline to sideline is a bit of a chore for him. Hackett's range would be described as deep middle.
Hackett's cover skills gives his coaches the confidence in him to play both zone and one-on-one coverage. He doesn't get beat deep and plays the ball exceptionally well. In zone coverage he shows the ability to click and close on the ball. He plays a very opportunistic style at safety. Hackett attacks the ball in the air and shows great ball skills.
Hackett has fluid hips so change of direction in pursuit isn't an issue for him. His back pedal and transition allow him to stay with a receiver so he doesn't have to rely on speed to close on the ball. Hackett has great straight-line speed that allows him to come up and make a play in the box.
Hackett plays the run and pass well. In open space he can be trusted to not allow a runner to get by him. He isn't a head hunter so you don't have to worry about any unnecessary penalties. In this defense, Hackett can take over as a single-high safety and that will allow Barry Church (or J.J. Wilcox) to concentrate as the box safety.
I give Chris Hackett a second-round grade. He doesn't have any character concerns and he would be a great fit in Dallas. As a local kid one could expect him to be coming for a visit on Dallas Days.