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Five reasons why Xavier McKinney makes the most sense for the Cowboys first-round pick

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It’s not the sexiest pick at 17, but it could make the most sense.

NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl-Michigan vs Alabama Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2020 NFL Draft less than two months away, the pursuit to find the perfect selection for the Cowboys no. 17 overall pick is in full swing. If feels like forever since the Cowboys last had a first-round pick, and you can thank the Amari Cooper trade for that as fans had to sit out the Day 1 festivities last year.

Pick 17 should offer a selection of quality players as there are some really interesting prospects that could be lingering around when the Cowboys are on the clock. Some of those candidates would fit quite well in terms of need as the team continues to strengthen their defense. One of those players is Alabama’s star safety Xavier McKinney.

McKinney is projected to go somewhere from mid-to-late first round. With so many good options, there’s a good chance he won’t be the highest-graded player on the Cowboys board. So, why should he be a serious candidate for the team’s top draft resource? There are a handful reasons why it might be wise for the Cowboys to lay up safe on this one, and here are five of them for your viewing pleasure.

1. He’s a safe pick

He’s not a freak athlete by any measure, and he’s not going to jump out at you with huge upside, but McKinney is a very cerebral player that should have a long-lasting career in the NFL. He’s possesses the right attitude and plays with a high level of intensity. McKinney recognizes plays quickly and is full force to the ball. His flexibility means he can serve as a hybrid linebacker if the need arises, and his football intelligence enables him to anticipate routes and be effective in coverage.

2. He fit’s a top need

Let’s face it, the Cowboys could really use a safety. Don’t take my word for it, take your word for it as we questioned the BTB community about it a couple weeks again, and here are the results...

The Cowboys are running lean at safety these days as Jeff Heath, Darian Thompson, and Kavon Frazier are all free agents. Xavier Woods is still around, but he’s only under contract for one more season. That leaves last year’s sixth-round draft pick Donovan Wilson as the only Cowboys safety under contract after the 2020 season. The Cowboys need to do something at safety and they need to do something quick.

3. The safety position is scarce in this draft

There is not going to be a lot of great opportunities to land a safety in this draft as there are only seven players at the position within the top 100 players in this draft class.

The Cowboys may find themselves in a bit of a pinch to fill the position to where they may tinker with reaching. Now, the brain trust at The Star would never admit to such as that is not a good way to assemble your football team, but the fact still remains - if the team is going to come out of this draft with a safety, they’re going to need to get lucky and have things fall into place.

McKinney could be one of those opportunities. If there is not a clear-choice guy they love on their board where they have a couple guys grouped the same, going with McKinney might be the smart way to go.

4. He complements Woods very well

If you can get past all the fun we could have with the Xavier/Xavier name thing, what you then end up with is two safeties who are each good at different things. Woods is a good free safety to roam around in coverage, whereas McKinney is more of a close to the line of scrimmage swarmer. The combination of these X-men would give the Cowboys one of their strongest safety duos they’ve had over the last several years. Talk about a sight for sore eyes.

5. Sneak in some extra draft capital?

If spending the 17th overall pick on McKinney is a little rich for your blood, the Cowboys could move back a little and try to get him later in the round. To do that, they’ll need a trading partner, but the Cowboys find themselves right in the middle of the hot zone when it comes to Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert. While he’s of no interest to Dallas, there could be teams looking to trade up as Herbert projects to be the last first-round quarterback from this draft class.

Quarterbacks are pricey commodities, and the Cowboys may find themselves on the right end of picking up another premium draft pick if they’re willing to move back some spots. That scenario may land them some extra draft capital as well as the guy they wanted all along if McKinney is still available later in the round.