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Should the Cowboys take a flier on a defensive back in the supplemental draft?

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Here are three defensive back prospects to keep an eye on ahead of this year’s supplemental draft.

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Before the Cowboys decided to shift its strategy at the wide receiver position this offseason, the front office made a bold move last spring by overhauling the secondary. Out were Morris Claiborne, Barry Church, and Brandon Carr, and incoming were rookies Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Xavier Woods.

The experiment saw all three defensive backs find some success during their first professional season. Jourdan Lewis became, arguably, the team’s best corner, Chidobe Awuzie overcame early season injuries to showcase his potential, and Xavier Woods had an incredible acrobatic interception on Matt Ryan and looks to be in a good spot to start at free safety.

The hiring of Kris Richard has made many even more optimistic about the defensive unit. The architect of the Legion of Boom for the Seahawks is already making an a great impression on both the coaching staff and the players. With a new man leading the defensive backs, we’ve already begun seeing some changes — such as Byron Jones transitioning from safety to corner.

There are some questions regarding the safety position, though. While Woods has the potential to grow and Jeff Heath and Kavon Frazier have their moments, is it safe to feel okay about that trio being the only safeties on the roster. The talk of a trade for Earl Thomas will not die down, but I will believe that when I see it.

While the Cowboys did not add a safety in this past draft, they did ink former San Diego State defensive back Kameron Kelly to an UDFA deal. The versatile defensive back from Wylie, Texas, has an outside chance to make the roster due to his ability to play both corner and safety, among other reasons such as his ball skills and competitiveness.

Dallas has another opportunity to add some new blood to the defensive backs room — the 2018 NFL Supplmental Draft begins at 1 P.M. ET this Wednesday, and there are a few talented DBs expected to be taken on the day. Of course, if a team opts to select a player during the draft, they lose the corresponding selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, therefore, teams tend to be wary.

The event is headlined by defensive backs Sam Beal from the Western Michigan Broncos, Adonnis Alexander from the Virginia Tech Hokies, and Brandon Bryant from the Mississippi St. Bulldogs. All three, especially the first two, will more-than-likely be grabbed by a franchise during the draft.

Should Dallas take a look at adding one of these collegiate prospects?

NCAA Football: Western Michigan at Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Beal is the shiny object of the group. The 6-foot-2 and 185-pound cornerback possesses great size and length to go along with his two interceptions and ten pass breakups that he recorded a season ago for WMU. While he is not the fastest athlete in the world, Beal makes up for it with his impressive ball skills and instincts in the secondary.

Where he lacks, however, is tackling. Beal is not the most reliable open-space tackler, recording a combined 22 tackles in ten games last season. We have seen some defensive backs, like Marcus Peters, overcome that, but Beal must prove that he is a willing tackler in order to succeed at the professional level.

Even with concerns in tackling, Beal is widely expected to be the first prospect taken come Wednesday, even going as high as the second-round.

Matt Miller wrote that Beal is one of the better supplemental prospects ever, though he noted that front offices believe that the Browns, Bills, and Chiefs are the three teams most interested in the former WMU corner.

It is thoughts like that—Beal is talented, pro-ready and clean off the field—that generate talk of “best ever” supplemental prospect. He doesn’t have the off-field issues of a Josh Gordon. He’s not a potential position switch like Terrelle Pryor. He’s ready to make an impact from Day 1. Teams know it. Beal feels it. He’s ready to leave his mark on the league.

Would you give a second- or third-round selection away for Beal?

NCAA Football: Belk Bowl-Arkansas vs Virginia Tech Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Another prospect worth looking at is Virginia Tech’s Adonis Alexander. The former three-star recruit blossomed into a star for the Hokies defense during his first two collegiate seasons, recording 98 tackles, six interceptions, and 13 pass deflections over his freshman and sophomore campaigns.

This past season, however, was the opposite for the talented defensive back that was once receiving top-round hype. Alexander’s production fell off as he played in only eight games, making 27 tackles and grabbing one interception. Combine that with a history of marijuana use that resulted in a suspension back in 2016, Alexander is a prospect with question marks.

Still, though, his 6-foot-3 and 197-pound lengthy frame is intriguing to NFL teams. Alexander showed off his ball-skills when he was on the field with seven career picks, and he has experience playing in both man-to-man and zone schemes.

Alexander’s size is a big factor in why Dallas could be interested in grabbing Alexander on Wednesday, as we know Kris Richard’s secondaries have excelled with big, rangy defensive backs. That is one aspect why UDFA Kam Kelly has a chance to make the 53-man squad.

If Alexander is still available when the fifth-round comes up, I would strongly consider drafting his rights if I am the Dallas Cowboys.

NCAA Football: Texas A&M at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

The third and final defensive back prospect with a chance to be selected in this year’s supplemental draft is Mississippi State’s Brandon Bryant — a speedy safety that had moments of brilliance in Starkville for the Bulldogs.

Bryant, a three-star prospect in the 2014 recruiting class, had a very good freshman season for the Bulldogs in 2015 after taking a redshirt year. The Mississippi native played in all 13 games during his initial collegiate season, making 63 tackles, recording 1.5 sacks and two tackles-for-loss, and picking off three passes — including this pick-six:

Bryant looked to be on his way to becoming a star for Dak Prescott’s alma mater. He followed up his freshman season with a 62-tackle, one-interception campaign in 2016. Bryant’s 2017 season, however, was a letdown for the Bulldogs. Bryant’s final season in Starkville saw him make 32 tackles and grab one interception in 11 games while falling out of the starting lineup.

While 2017 was a disappointment, Bryant did show flashes from time-to-time — like this hit:

And this open-field tackle:

Bryant’s claim-to-fame are his reported 4.24 and 4.29 40-yard dashes that were recorded during his career for Mississippi State. His track speed makes him an interesting prospect, and it earned him a spot on Bruce Feldman’s annual “Freak List”.

It’s two years in a row on the Freaks list for Bryant. Last off-season, Mississippi State clocked him at a blazing 4.24 40. This year, it’s a bit slower, but 4.29 is still flying. Bryant’s other workout numbers are big-time as well. A 365-pound bench, a 35-inch vertical and 9’10” broad jump. Word is he’s primed for a strong season in large part thanks to the addition of Ron English as the Bulldogs’ new safeties coach.

Bryant only ran a 4.45 at his Pro Day last month, but he has been timed in at faster times and appears to be a burner on the field as well. Would the Cowboys consider grabbing the speedy 6-foot, 215-pound safety in the seventh-round?

The NFL Supplemental Draft rarely sees many prospects drafted, but this year looks to be the exception as the three aforementioned DBs have a great chance to be on NFL rosters by the end of Wednesday.

Dallas’ secondary looks to be on the rise with the additions of Lewis, Awuzie, and Woods to go along with defensive backs coach Kris Richard. Byron Jones has the opportunity to take the next step at corner, but the questions at safety still remain.

Beal and Alexander will more-than-likely play corner in the NFL, but they both possess great size and length which will definitely appeal to Richard. Beal is a talented prospect that could have been a top-two round selection had he been in the 2019 NFL Draft, and Alexander comes from a program that has produced tons of NFL defensive backs. Plus, with the uncertainty surrounding Marquez White, is there now a new spot open?

Bryant, the speedy safety, also brings intriguing qualities to the table. Dallas appears to like Kelly, but would it hurt to take Bryant in the seventh or sign him if he does not get selected to add some competition for August?

We’ll find out soon enough. Would you like for the Cowboys to grab a defensive back in the supplemental draft, BTB?