At one point in time during the offseason, the Cowboys were reportedly looking for help at the safety position. In fact, they inquired about bringing in Eric Weddle before he priced himself out of the discussion. Dallas seems pretty determined to upgrade their secondary this draft season with talent that can make plays and possibly help them improve their takeaway abilities. What we know is that the team has found their likely free safety for the future in Byron Jones. However, they are not content with what follows that. Barry Church is a solid player but struggled in 2015 and J.J. Wilcox has not developed as they hoped.
Jones is the only defensive back with superior athletic ability and he's their last line of defense. The Cowboys could very well be looking for better athletes to surround him. Church and Wilcox have been the same type of player and at one time were the starting tandem. The Cowboys also have Jeff Heath, who is a by far one of their best utility men. Not every player on the roster can be a first-round pick, but the writing on the wall may suggest some potential upgrades to eventually replace what they currently got. So, how do you want your safeties?
Select Vonn Bell or Keanu Neal At 34
The Cowboys aren't likely to take a traditional safety in round one. If they select Jalen Ramsey, there is no doubt that he's playing cornerback. There may not be any sure-fire first round talents at safety past what Ramsey could do, but there is some quality from the second round on.
Vonn Bell- Though he's versatile, his best fit as it pertains to Dallas will be as a true strong safety. He's got terrific timing on blitzes due to his closing speed. If selected, it will certainly spell the end to Church's stranglehold as the starter. Where he makes his money is with his impeccable vision and reaction speed. He's not going to put himself in a bad situation and he loves tackling. He's not necessarily a big hitter but he knows how to finish on plays. Just another solid player from Ohio State that can be a reliable starter and upgrade a secondary lacking playmaking ability.
Keanu Neal- If you want a guy that wants to decimate the opposition, look no further than Keanu. He's steadily risen up from a third-day selection to gone in the second round. His combination of athleticism and instincts are a natural fit for the Cowboys at strong safety. Neal is a very intense player and the aggression is evident although he'll need to learn a bit more discipline in the NFL. He's a highly productive player with almost nine tackles per start in his time at Florida. Dallas would likely ease him into a starting role, but he'll be barking up the tree rather quickly.
Take A Chance On A Mid-Round Talent In Rounds 3-4
Karl Joseph- Where the Cowboys are going to love Joseph is watching him play down in the box. Brugler says that his tape would suggest another Earl Thomas. Though that is true, Joseph still has some discipline issues and placement/angle problems. I wouldn't say he's Wilcox or anything but there is room for improvement. Joseph is a tackling machine and though he's also versatile, it's best to let him stick to what he knows. He's a downhill closer and is very skilled in run defense. He could be lot like a Kam Chancellor, who can set the tone for the defense in games. Pairing him with Byron Jones just makes so much sense for this defense.
Miles Killebrew- Dallas got a pretty good look at him in the Senior Bowl and they came away a bit impressed. Unlike the others on this list, Killebrew is a strong safety, no question. Just over the last two seasons, he racked up over 240 tackles. Dallas likes to use Orlando Scandrick on corner blitzes, but Killebrew would offer them another wrinkle. He's a simple player, which isn't a bad thing. He sees the play, then makes the play. He's a solid cover guy and would be a standout performer on any special teams unit.
Take One For Depth In The Late Rounds, Too Many Needs Elsewhere
Justin Simmons- He split duty as a cornerback and free safety but can cover a lot of ground and do multiple things for your defense. Dallas will be intrigued by his ability to always make plays in big games. Such as his two interceptions versus Notre Dame this past season and his strong performances in both the Clemson and Shrine game. Simmons has ball skills and plays extremely fast, most scouts don't see him having any issue with getting up to speed. He needs some work with balance and a little more bulk as he could get abused by powerful receivers. Simmons has all the traits but will take some extra attention to get him to his potential.
Tyvis Powell- He's one the more underrated talents due to sharing the field with Bell. Powell led the secondary in interceptions, though, so there is that. He's a sure-fire tackler and doesn't make many mistakes. He's an intelligent player and the Cowboys are going to want his energy on their team. Like Simmons, Powell seems to always be in the right position for the big play as was on display in his MVP performance against Oregon in 2014's National Title game. Garrett always talks about guys who love football and compete hard, that's Powell through and through.
Jordan Lucas- He started for two years at cornerback before shifting to safety due to need. Sometimes it's better to look at passes defended than interceptions in college, it gives you a better feel for how athletic the player can be. Also, let's you know a little more of what they are about. Lucas had 25 passes defended in the past two years, that's going to excite the Cowboys coaches. He also played receiver before which gives him an upper hand in footwork and that versatility seems to be what Dallas is looking for. He's an aggressive tackler often looking to rip the ball out. He's a good building block type of player that with a little elbow grease, could become something more potentially.