The Dallas Cowboys finally signed themselves a safety with the news of George Iloka agreeing to a one-year deal. Of course, this is just a depth signing for the immediate future. If the team is going to make a legit jump in getting better at the position, they will need to find the answer in the draft. The good news is there are a handful of college safeties that would immediately improve the team’s position group. The flexibility of Xavier Woods allows the team to target either a free safety or a strong safety so that opens their options a little more.
This week, we are going to examine the team’s top four position needs - safety, defensive tackle, defensive end, and tight end. We will take a look at three candidates at each position that could be possibilities for the Cowboys second-round draft pick. Since that pick doesn’t show up until 58th overall, it’s hard to gauge just who will be available at that point in the draft. For this experiment, we are going to examine a player who’s likely to be long gone before the Cowboys pick (blue), a player who just might make it (green), and a player who stands a good chance of being available when they are on the clock (yellow).
You might ask yourself why we would even throw names in the hat for players who aren’t expected to be there when the Cowboys pick. Well, as Patrick Swayze said in Road House, “expect the unexpected.” The draft is always full of surprises and you never know who is going to fall or if the Cowboys will trade up to get their guy. Some of these players are already pre-draft visitors so that’s good enough for us to consider them in play for the Cowboys.
At the end of the week, we will combine all these players/positions together to form a mini draft board. Today, we will cover the safety position. Here are three possible candidates (ranks courtesy of Dane Brugler’s top 100).
Rapp is my draft crush for 2019. For the second straight year, my draft pet cat comes from the University of Washington as last year Vita Vea held that honor. Over the last couple drafts, both my draft crushes were selected before the Cowboys had a chance to pick - Vea last year and Takk McKinley in 2017. And this is also expected to be the case with Rapp, but we’re including best case scenarios in this list.
There is so much to love about Rapp. He has the size, he moves well, and he’s one of those players who’s all over the place. The tape doesn’t lie. He has the mental makeup that this team loves going after as his football intelligence is off the charts. Rapp loves to deliver punishment, but he’s not wild and out of control. He takes smart angles and will sacrifice himself to make a play. He has great anticipation and will jump routes. Once he recognizes where the play is going, his acceleration is outstanding.
Chances of being available at 58: Almost zilch. It would be surprising if he made it to the the second round, but on the fluke chance he does and starts sliding, the Cowboys might want to consider getting on the phone.
He just might make it...
The Mississippi State safety is the best box-safety in the draft. Abram is a tempo-setter and brings a lot of energy to the defense. He’s super aggressive and is always in attack mode. He has good speed and moves extremely well sideline to sideline. Abram’s toughness and tenacity makes him a fiery defender. He’d be a huge defensive piece in shutting down his opponents rushing attack. It’s really like having an extra linebacker out on the field.
The knock on Abram comes from his coverage skills. His missile approach can be an issue when he guesses wrong and has to change directions. He’ll bite on fakes taking himself out of plays. Abram also doesn’t do a good job getting his body turned around and properly tracking the ball. He’s done a solid job in coverage for what he’s been asked to do in his college scheme, but he won’t be a strong coverage safety at the next level.
If you were wanting the Cowboys to go after Landon Collins in free agency, then Abram should be high on your wish list. They are very similar players yet acquiring Abram is way cheaper.
Chances of being available at 58: Below average. He’s got a shot to be there, but most likely will come off the board before then.
Good chance of being there...
If the Cowboys are looking for a strong coverage safety, Thompson is most likely their best chance. Stuck behind Minkah Fitzpatrick at Alabama, Thompson finally got his chance to shine last season and that’s what he did. He has excellent instincts and shows great burst to the ball. He covers a lot of ground and has good ball-hawking skills.
While his coverage skills are his strength, Thompson is solid in run support. His slender frame isn’t ideal for a lot of the popping hits he’d like to deliver, but he’s shown a willingness to give it a go. His aggressiveness can get him in trouble at times, both against the pass and run. There are some wrinkles in his game and he’ll need to be a more consistent player to be successful as a pro, but the talent is there.
Chances of being available at 58: Decent. His build may cause him to fall and that could mean a good deal for a team looking to add a starting caliber safety.