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State of the Cowboys roster: How much better do you feel about the safeties?

How strong is the Cowboys depth chart at safety heading into the 2019 season?

NFL: Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

[In this series, we’ll take a look at the additions and subtractions at every position on the Dallas Cowboys roster. We’ll compare where the Cowboys were to where they currently sit and ask the ultimate question - did the Cowboys improve or not? In other words, do you feel better about the state of the roster going into the 2019 season?]


2018 Season: 2019 Season:
Jeff Heath Jeff Heath
Xavier Woods Xavier Woods
Kavon Frazier George Iloka- Signed in FA
Darian Thompson Kavon Frazier
Ibraheim Campbell Darian Thompson
Donovan Wilson - 6th Round Pick


2018 Production GP TCKL TFL SCK PD INT FUM
Jeff Heath 16 85 6 - 5 1 1
Xavier Woods 14 56 - - 9 1 1
Kavon Frazier 16 23 2 1 1 - -
Darian Thompson 10 - - - - - -
George Iloka (MIN) 16 16 - - - - 1

When it comes to the safety position, the Cowboys haven’t been nearly as concerned as the fan base. This late into the game, the Earl Thomas’ of the world are long gone and the Cowboys didn’t attack the position until late in the draft. Could it be that the Cowboys really do like the guys they have? Yes, as a matter of fact, they absolutely love them.

Xavier Woods is a guy that the Cowboys believe can play both strong and free, which gives him some added value to the team. Jeff Heath is probably much better in a reserve role but he can also offer up versatility, plus he’s one of the best special teamers the Cowboys have on the roster. Heath isn’t planning on giving up his starting strong safety position but George Iloka is a one-year rental who is capable of challenging Heath.

Before Iloka signed a one-year deal with the Vikings last season, he had started 76 games in a six-year stint with the Bengals. He’s had plenty of experience and has eclipsed 70 tackles in four of his seven seasons in the NFL. If Heath cannot improve his ability to tackle Iloka would welcome another chance to start.

Kavon Frazier has become a valuable member of the Cowboys special teams unit over the past few seasons. Though Frazier’s limited in coverage, he does have some added value as a run defender. Frazier plays with aggressiveness and can sub-in at strong safety when needed because he is a solid finisher. Darian Thompson has decent coverage abilities and has experience playing single-high duties. Thompson hasn’t been able to live up to his third-round pick draft status but has a role on special teams and played in 10 games last season.

The one new addition to the roster is that of Donovan Wilson, a former Texas A&M prospect that the Cowboys drafted in the sixth-round this year. Now, Wilson has a reputation for laying the wood but he’s also got instincts, which is something that can’t be taught to a guy. He’s already turned several heads in these early offseason activities and ended practice several days ago by picking off backup quarterback Cooper Rush. Wilson has caught the eye of my colleague, David Howman:

“But the Cowboys found a safety in the sixth round in former Texas A&M captain Donovan Wilson. As detailed in the scouting report on Wilson after the draft, he’s a violent thumper who has shown flashes of ball-hawk skills, has experience playing slot cornerback in college, and has a great football IQ, although he needs to become more disciplined in his play. Under the tutelage of Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard, though, Wilson should be able to refine his skills quickly, leading to this bold prediction: Wilson will be the starting strong safety by the end of the year.”

Conclusion: The mere fact that the Cowboys brought someone like George Iloka in shows that they want to feel a little better about this position. No, the Cowboys didn’t go after prized free agent, Earl Thomas. No, the Cowboys didn’t pull the trigger early in the draft on Taylor Rapp or Juan Thornhill. Instead they waited for Donovan Wilson in the sixth round because the Cowboys feel that their front-seven may be one of the best in the NFL, which can help their back end develop much quicker. Maybe the Cowboys are on to something, maybe not, but they are better at safety now than they were by the very slightest of margins.

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