We continue looking at prospects in the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft from a decidedly Cowboys point of view. Taking the Cowboys current personnel, draft position, scheme, and needs into consideration; defensive line, linebacker, defensive backs, as well as complementary offensive pieces at tight end and right tackle, we hope to profile the majority of the potential prospects that could realistically end up as Cowboys within the first two rounds. Now that all of the “official visits” have leaked we’ll profile as many of the visitors as we can.
Today’s Prospect - (Reported pre-draft visitor)
#7 - Xavier Woods - Safety - Louisiana Tech - 5-11, 197
Games Watched: Arkansas, Western Kentucky (2015), Mississippi St. (2015), Arkansas St. (2015)
Pros: Extremely aggressive player who attacks the ball fearlessly whether in the run game or in coverage. Seemingly constantly around the ball. Excellent ball skills and good awareness to get his head turned, track, locate, and make a play. Reacts quickly once he reads a play, does a very nice job of reading route combinations and driving on the ball, although he can be overaggressive at times. Technically sound, physical tackler who doesn’t shy away from contact and isn’t afraid to take on blockers. Has quick enough feet and smooth enough hips to line up in the slot in certain matchups. Does a nice job of weaving through traffic against the run. Looks to lay out receivers over the middle when given the opportunity. Used in a variety of ways, including as the single-high safety, in 2-deep looks, in man coverage out of the slot, in the box, and blitzed off the edge. Started nearly all four seasons. Excellent production with 14 interceptions, 20 TFL, 4 sacks, and 6 forced fumbles. Dangerous as a returner once the ball is in his hands. Seems extremely competitive and plays with a chip on his shoulder.
Cons: Lacks ideal height/size/length (under 31 inch arms), physically looks more like a smallish slot cornerback than a safety. Not an explosive athlete, change of direction is mechanical in space and looks a tick off. Will need to maintain better discipline in the NFL, gets overaggressive and can be left stuck reading the QB/backfield while routes develop behind him. Long speed in games looks slower than his 4.54 40 time, he was beaten badly for huge gains twice by Taywan Taylor. Can he hold up at his size with his physical style of play? Limited range and lack of height could be a concern on deep balls if used as a single-high safety in NFL.
Conclusion: Despite not being an elite athlete and having some physical limitations you have to love the ball skills, physicality, and versatility Woods brings as far as being able to support the run and make plays on the ball downfield. He isn’t someone you want starting as a rookie due to his lack of discipline and at times overaggressive nature, but he looks like a player who could certainly play a role right out of the gate in nickel/dime, and probably also on special teams coverage units.
Much like several of the other safeties the Cowboys have brought in Woods looks like a guy who could immediately play a reserve/third safety role, while having upside as a potential starter down the line. The vast majority of the safeties the Cowboys have brought in have very good ball skills (Marcus Williams, Tedric Thompson, Justin Evans) but what I like about Woods is that he is much better supporting the run than those guys. He’s a bit more limited athletically and isn’t as big in comparison to those other three, but you have to love his playmaking ability and fearless nature. He looks a little bit like a poor man’s Budda Baker but with better ball skills.
He would make for an excellent pick in the 4th, but I could easily see him sneaking into the back end of the 3rd, and I wouldn’t complain if he was the pick at 92.
I do not have access to coach’s film or anything of that nature, I just watch plenty of football (television broadcast version) and go off what I see out of a prospect.
Special thanks to DraftBreakdown for posting the videos that help provide a more in-depth look at this year’s prospects.