Could the Cowboys FINALLY add a safety?
Earlier this week, it was reported that the Dallas Cowboys were interested in Keanu Neal to try and upgrade their defense. Now it has been reported that the interest is mutual.
This not only confirms the reports that Neal was a target for the Cowboys, the reported switch to WILL linebacker also tracks with what was being said earlier. Neal has a reputation as a hard hitting player, and should be able to change positions as long as he is not beaten up in run defense. The recent signings for the Dallas defensive line should do a lot to help that.
Of course, this raises an obvious question as to what the plan is for the incumbent WILL, Jaylon Smith. Does this presage a demotion for him, or perhaps a switch to the SAM spot? Either would reduce his snaps, as would using him and Neal in a rotation at WILL, with the larger Smith handling running downs while Neal comes in for passing situations.
It’s safety galore in Dallas.
The Cowboys have a hole at safety. And they finally seem to want to fill it.
Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News is reporting that free agent free safety Damontae Kazee is expected to visit the Cowboys next week. Kazee was most recently with the Atlanta Falcons, where he played under former head coach Dan Quinn.
As noted in the attached tweet, Kazee is coming off a torn achilles injury in 2020, but his familiarity with new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn makes this an clear connection. Kazee is obviously comfortable in Quinn’s scheme, and would fit an immediate need for this Cowboys defense.
Damontae Kazee is a former fifth round pick from the 2017 draft, who had an incredible 7 interception season back in 2018. He played in all 16 games his first three seasons, before missing almost the entirety of 2020 due to the aforementioned achilles injury.
Report: Dallas Cowboys to visit with free agent safety Malik Hooker next week - RJ Ochoa, Blogging the Boys
Malik Hooker szn.
While Kazee and Neal both have a former connection to the new Cowboys defensive coordinator the team is now set to visit with someone who has a connection to a coach that used to occupy that seat. ESPN reported that Dallas is set to visit with safety Malik Hooker next week.
The Cowboys are scheduled to visit with free-agent safeties Damontae Kazee and Malik Hooker next week, according to multiple sources. Both players are coming off Achilles’ tears suffered last season. Kazee played for new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn in Atlanta and led the NFL with seven interceptions in 2018. Hooker had seven interception in his first three seasons with the Colts but has battled injuries.
Hooker has indeed been playing for Matt Eberflus and the Indianapolis Colts so we know that he has gotten some great coaching. He is one of the better safeties on the market and someone that many Cowboys fans have been crossing their fingers for in terms of a potential option.
We know that the Cowboys aren’t going to break the bank when it comes to adding players, but someone of Hooker’s abilities doesn’t come around a lot. Indianapolis declined to pick up Hooker’s fifth-year option a year ago which made this past season, one in which he tore his Achilles in September, his last with the organization.
Who else could be added?
The Chicago Bears may very well have gifted a stud cornerback to the Cowboys. With the Bears looking to free up some money this offseason, they shockingly opted to part ways with top cornerback Kyle Fuller on Thursday.
Sure, the Cowboys did re-sign Jourdan Lewis to a multi-year deal and are in position to draft one of the top cornerbacks in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft in Caleb Farley or Patrick Surtain. But let’s not forget that owner Jerry Jones wants to win another Super Bowl, and Fuller could put the Cowboys over the edge.
Last season, Fuller recorded 65 tackles, eight defended passes, one interception and one forced fumble. Additionally, Fuller allowed a completion percentage of 55.4 (46 catches on 83 targets) while surrendering 527 passing yards and five touchdowns, per Pro Football Reference.
Geno Atkins, anyone?
So long as the price tag is manageable, the Dallas Cowboys could still use some help at defensive tackle. There have been rumors that they may bring back defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, but Atkins would be a more reliable option. McCoy missed the entire 2020 season with a quad tear, and the Cowboys have made efforts to get bigger up front since Mike McCarthy joined as head coach last offseason. This transition makes sense for Dallas.
What are the experts saying?
The NFL Draft isn’t until next month, and this week has been overshadowed somewhat by the start of free agency. But you can be sure that the front office evaluations are well under way, which means the prognosticators are hard at work as well. No one knows exactly what will happen when Dallas is on the clock, but one thing is for sure: The Cowboys need to come away from the draft with some players who will be ready to contribute sooner than later.
So, with experts all a round the country attempting to forecast the first round of the NFL Draft, we’ll periodically take a look at who some of those experts slot in for the Cowboys No. 10 overall pick in our mock draft roundup.
This week, we polled 19 different mock drafts and came up with eight different choices with a strong emphasis on the same position.
Film room: How Tarell Basham fits with the Cowboys, and a change he can make to improve his game - John Owning, Dallas Morning News
Was Tarell Basham a good value signing?
The Dallas Cowboys continued their busy Thursday, inking edge defender Tarell Basham to a two-year deal worth up to $6.5 million, per DMN’s own Michael Gehlken.
Basham was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the third round of the 2017 NFL draft, but was waived in October the year after. Basham was quickly picked up by the New York Jets, where he was able to find a better footing, starting 12 games in his 2.5 seasons with the team. Over his career, Basham has 84 tackles, 7.5 sacks and four forced fumbles.
Basham spent his time in New York playing as an outside linebacker in its 3-4 scheme, but unless Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is secretly planning on implementing a 3-4 base defense, he’ll be a defensive end for the majority of his snaps in Dallas.
Listed at 6-4 and 269 pounds with 34 1/4-inch arms, Basham is a powerful, well-rounded edge defender with middling athletic traits who should bolster Dallas’ depth at defensive end.
As a pass rusher, Basham doesn’t have the speed or cornering ability to stress an offensive tackle’s pass set vertically; therefore, he must resort to using different footwork patterns to put stress on the OT’s pass sets. When combined with well-timed and coordinated hands, Basham has some of the prettiest pass-rush wins I’ve seen in the NFL.
A, B, C, D, or F? How would you grade the Cowboys free agent acquisitions?
Ty Nsekhe, OT – Grade: C-
The Cowboy lost offensive tackle Cam Erving to free agency this week. So, in turn, Dallas adds Ty Nsekhe in response. The biggest knocks on Nsekhe is the fact he’s 35-years old and he’s started just one game over the past two years.
Nsekhe played a total of 54 offensive snaps for the Buffalo Bills in 2020. In comparison, young Cowboy tackles Terence Steele (started 14 games) and Brandon Knight (nine starts) gained valuable experience last year and offer much more upside.
Carlos Watkins, DT – Grade: D
The Cowboys needed to add more quality defensive tackle depth to aid their ailing rush defense. The team already has young disruptors at the position in Trysten Hill and Neville Gallimore.
In Carlos Watkins, Dallas signed a player who started a career-high 11 games for the Houston Texans in 2020. Yet, Houston was the worst team in the NFL last season against the run, allowing a whopping 160.3 rushing yards per game.
If Watkins can’t prove to be a worthy run defender, what are his chances advancing on the depth chart past former high-draft picks in Hill and Gallimore?
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