It seems like it's been forever since the Dallas Cowboys have gotten consistent play from their safeties. In recent years, guys like Barry Church, J.J. Wilcox, Matt Johnson, and Gerald Sensabaugh have all been called upon to take over the job. Unfortunately, to the Cowboys' dismay, none of the aforementioned names ever developed into the safety they were hoping for.
There are some vivid memories of the Cowboys' safeties absolutely getting shredded. Some that come to mind are Church not breaking down and missing tackle after tackle, Wilcox taking a horrible angle to the football to then seeing Jordan Matthews score a game-winning overtime touchdown. How about Matt Johnson and his constant injury history? Johnson was a Cowboy for two years and he didn't see one snap of playing time. That's absolutely maddening. Darren Woodson is the last safety that truly made his impact felt in Dallas. With the draft rapidly approaching, now is the time for the Cowboys to figure out what to do with their safety dilemma.
When the Cowboys drafted Byron Jones in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, there was a thought that he would start out at cornerback and then convert over to free safety once the Cowboys' secondary was ready for the transition. With Orlando Scandrick returning from injury, Dallas' need for Jones to play cornerback goes down, the Cowboys can now utilize him at safety.
Jones seems to be an ideal fit to play safety. He's intelligent, displays excellent field awareness, and he's extremely athletic. As a free safety, you need to have range and be able to solve what is going on in front of you. Jones' athleticism and intelligence will be of great use to the Cowboys' defensive backfield.
With Jones moving to free safety, the Cowboys will need to find a safety who can bring a presence. And while Dashon Goldson was brought in for a visit just a few weeks ago, because the Cowboys haven't moved on a free agent safety means that going the draft direction is the best way to go. It seems that after Eric Weddle signed with the Baltimore Ravens, the Cowboys decided to pass on each free agent safety. The best options in the draft include Vonn Bell, Jeremy Cash, Karl Joseph, and even Miles Killebrew.
While the common norm is to have a rangy safety and a hard-hitting safety, the Cowboys may choose to go with two rangy safeties for their predominant zone defense. And if that is the case, maybe Bell would be the best fit in Dallas. But because I believe the Cowboys need to instill a physical, hard-hitting presence in their defense, I'm going with Joseph to be the pick.
If the Cowboys trade back, Joseph in the middle of the second round to perhaps even the beginning of the third round would be a plausible area for Joseph to be drafted. Safety may not be viewed as one of the bigger holes on this team, but if your secondary can prevent opposing receivers from running free, it gives your defensive line more time to get to the quarterback.
There are obviously some drawbacks to Joseph, his size and the ACL injury being the biggest ones, but for a defense that lacks an identity and a killer instinct, adding a guy like Joseph to change that belief would be wise. If Dallas can improve their secondary, they will be able to become more of a complete defense. Dallas' linebacker corps is in tact, but if they can get their defensive line and defensive backfield in sync, then there is no reason why the Cowboys won't be able to surprise some people with their defensive unit. People keep saying that the Cowboys need to improve their cornerback situation, but addressing the safety positions is also a need.