Two things stick out about the Cowboys safety position heading into this offseason. One, it hasn’t played well enough to truly help the team. And two, the Cowboys are loathe to spend a premium resource to help the situation.
With new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn heading to town, we’ll have to see how that might change. We’ve already discussed the need for a true centerfield safety to play single-high in Quinn’s Cover 1/Cover 3-heavy scheme. It appears that Donovan Wilson is a natural fit for the scheme’s box safety who is tasked with playing the run and dropping into the underneath coverage zones, as well as blitzing when called upon. At the other single-high safety spot? Not much.
Xavier Woods as been a starter there for the last few years, but he enters the 2021 offseason as a free agent, and he hasn’t done enough in his time in Dallas to make him a surefire re-sign prospect for Dallas. Whatever the Cowboys do with Woods, they will likely want to add a safety in the draft to fortify the position.
Dallas Cowboys: Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, Florida State
Secondary help will be at the top of the Dallas Cowboys’ needs this offseason, particularly in the NFL draft. Even after they took Trevon Diggs in the second round last year, more help is needed.
The Cowboys gave up 29.6 points per game this season, and the lack of playmakers in the secondary was a big reason. An impact safety who can make plays in coverage while still helping in run support would give the defense a much-needed spark.
Perhaps no safety in this year’s draft has the athletic profile Hamsah Nasirildeen possesses. He has great size for the position at 6’3” and 213 pounds, which allows him to be a versatile chess piece for more creative defensive coordinators.
Nasirildeen has great click-and-close ability to plug up rushing lanes or make contact with receivers at the point of the catch. His length and speed make him an ideal matchup in man coverage with even the most athletic tight ends.
He isn’t certain to be a reliable deep safety at the next level, but his size, athleticism and versatility inside the box make him the kind of playmaker the Cowboys could use on their defense.
If you dig in on Nasirildeen you’ll find things to like and dislike as it pertains to the Cowboys defense. He certainly ahs the size you want in a safety, and he doesn’t lack for athletic ability although he’s not really a top-end speedster. He’s a willing and adept run-stopper who navigates traffic well and takes decent angles.
Another thing scouts rave about is his versatility to play everywhere and as a sub-package defender who can play slot or cover running backs, etc. There is some concern about his urgency on plays and it has been noted he can sit back in zones too long before attacking a play. With his versatility, he’s not the prototype centerfielder although he has the ability to play there. He also tore his ACL in 2019 and only played a couple of games in 2020. Scouts will want to see how tests at his Pro Day.
The good thing for the Cowboys is he will probably be available on Day 2, and could even possibly slide to the start of Day 3. The third round is where you see him often placed. This might be a sweet spot for the Cowboys to draft a safety.