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Cowboys news: Dan Quinn has convinced the Cowboys that safety is a priority

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Seattle Seahawks v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

New DC Dan Quinn seems intent on improving the Cowboys at safety, and he deserves praise for that alone - Jean-Jacques Taylor

Dan Quinn seems to have convinced the Cowboys to put resources towards a position they have long ignored.

New Cowboys’ defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has seemingly convinced the Cowboys to make safety a priority.

Hallelujah.

Since 2013, the Cowboys had at least one undrafted free agent starting at safety. Overall, their safety play has been average at best during that span.

The Cowboys haven’t had a good pair of safeties since Darren Woodson and Roy Williams in 2002 and 2003. Last year, they started a pair of sixth-round picks: Xavier Woods and Donovan Wilson.

Well, the Cowboys signed safety Keanu Neal, who played for Quinn in Atlanta, to a one-year deal Saturday worth $5 million to be a hybrid, who plays safety and linebacker.

Safeties Malik Hooker (Indianapolis) and Damontae Kazee (Atlanta) are also scheduled to visit Dallas this week.

7-Round Mock: Predictions For All 10 Dallas Picks - Staff, DallasCowboys.com

The staff over at the mothership posted five different seven-round mocks.

Nick Eatman

1st Round (10th): Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

2nd Round (44th): Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri

3rd Round (75th): Andre Cisco, S, Syracuse

3rd Round (99th): Jerome Johnson, DT, Indiana

4th Round (115th): Alaric Jackson, OT, Iowa

4th Round (138th): Jacoby Stephens, S/LB, LSU

5th Round (179th): Daelin Hayes, DE, Notre Dame

6th Round (192nd): Rakeem Boyd, RB, Arkansas

6th Round (227th): DJ Daniel, CB, Georgia

7th Round (238th): Josh Pederson, TE, Louisiana-Monroe

Analysis: The Cowboys don’t want to say they have a strong need at any spot, but it has to be cornerback, regardless of what happened in free agency. The need to get younger and talented at the position is vital, so after the success Trevon Diggs had a year ago, drafting Surtain just makes sense. If they go with Caleb Farley or Jaycee Horn are possibilities, but I think the safe and smart pick is Surtain. After that, I tried to go as much on defense as possible. Bolton is just a playmaker and they need that at linebacker. I also took some hybrid players like Stephens and Hayes who can play multiple positions. If you’re thinking I took Boyd because he’s from Arkansas, well, it’s true. But I like his game because he’s a bigger back with breakaway speed. There is no quarterback on this list, and I wonder if the Cowboys will take one, but I decided against it.

Dallas Cowboys: 4 second-wave free agents that still make sense - Steven Mullenax, The Landry Hat

There are plenty of more free agents out there for the Cowboys.

DaQuan Jones, Defensive Tackle

The Cowboys were fairly active in addressing their defensive line needs in the first week of free agency adding defensive lineman Carlos Watkins, Brent Urban, and Tarell Basham. Of the three, Urban is likely the team’s best bet at becoming a true run stuffer for Dallas.

But improving the run defense in the “D” is more than a one-man job. So the Cowboys could still use a true one-technique, refrigerator with arms to clog up the interior of those opposing offensive lines. And the 6-foot-4, 322-pound DaQuan Jones could be the answer.

A fourth-round pick by the Tennessee Titans in the 2014 NFL Draft, Jones has spent the past seven years in Nashville. He’s played the last two at nose tackle. Titans Radio color analyst Dave McGinnis gives a great analysis of Jones in the below video on how he’s developed into an excellent run defender.

Keanu Neal switching from safety to WLB with Cowboys - Kevin Patra, NFL.com

New signee Keanu Neal will be used in multiple ways.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that the Cowboys plan to switch Neal to weakside linebacker, per sources informed of the situation.

A potential move was speculated before Neal agreed to a one-year, $5 million deal with the Cowboys over the weekend.

Neal’s hard-hitting style and ability to step up against the run make a switch to linebacker an intriguing move. Given that new Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn never made that move in Atlanta adds additional interest to the position swap.

We’ve seen more safeties attempt to make a switch to linebacker — in some schemes referred to as the “money” backer — in recent years to mixed results. With Neal listed at 6-foot-1, 216 pounds, we’ll see if he can make a positive transition. If he becomes an impactful linebacker, Neal would hit the open market next offseason to more options.

A Pro Bowl safety in 2017, Neal’s career has been hit hard by injuries. He missed all but four games from 2018-2019. When on the field, however, he’s proven to be an enforcer with range. He’s complied at least 100 tackles in each season he’s played at least 14 games.

With Neal slotted to move to linebacker, the question is what it means for Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith. LVE seems destined to patrol the middle. Smith could move to the rushing LEO role in Quinn’s system, given his knack for rushing the passer.

Michael Gallup’s Market Value Becomes More Clear Thanks to Corey Davis - Brian Martin, Inside The Star

The Cowboys have options with Michael Gallup.

Option #1 – Do nothing. The Dallas Cowboys can simply let Michael Gallup play out his rookie contract and become a free agent after the 2021 season. In this scenario the Cowboys move on and likely receive a 2022 compensatory pick when Gallup signs a long-term contract elsewhere.

Option #2 – Trade him. If the Dallas Cowboys are looking for more immediate help or extra draft capital Michael Gallup is there most tradable asset. In this scenario any trade would likely have to be of greater value than the compensatory pick they’d receive by letting him become a free agent.

Option #3 – Lock him up long-term. Whether it’s now or after the 2021 season the Dallas Cowboys could decide keeping Michael Gallup via a long term extension is in the best interest of the organization. All of the variables with this scenario makes it the most intriguing.

Since options 1 and 2 are “wait and see” situations we can’t do anything but speculate about I thought we’d dig a little deeper into what it would take for option 3 to play out. Thankfully, the New York Jets and Corey Davis may have already laid the groundwork.

Believe it or not, but Corey Davis’ second contract will likely be the baseline the Dallas Cowboys or any other teams will use in contract negotiations with Michael Gallup’s representatives whenever the time comes. I believe this is as fair of a comparison as there is both in age and production.

Corey Davis is one year older and has one more year of experience in the NFL than Michael Gallup (25). Surprisingly though up to this point in their careers their production nearly mirrors one another. Because of this, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Gallup’s second contract ends up being pretty close to Davis’.

Potential Dallas Cowboys draft target will have back surgery, leaving pick uncertain - Clarence E. Hill Jr., Star Telegram

The drafty status of Caleb Farley is now up in the air with is back surgery.

The big question is how it impacts Farley’s draft status, especially since he opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns.

Farley had 56 tackles, six interceptions and 19 passes defensed in 23 games for the Hokies over the 2018-19 seasons and has been regarded as the top cornerback prospect in the draft.

The situation now could cause Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II or South Carolina Jaycee Horn to vault ahead of him on most draft boards, if not dropping him out of the first round entirely.

It is something that bears watching for the Cowboys, who will most certainly take a cornerback in the first two rounds of the upcoming draft.

The 10th pick is the likely target, depending on who is available.

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