Going into the 2021 season, Donovan Wilson was coming off an excellent 2020 season finishing with 48 tackles, 21 stops, three forced fumbles, two interceptions, and four sacks. Those four sacks were second in the entire NFL among safeties despite playing the 63rd most snaps among all safeties (673). Obviously after seeing how well Wilson played when given opportunities you would think 2021 would be his breakout season — it was not.
During training camp Wilson suffered a groin injury and aggravated it in the season opener against the Buccaneers. The expectation would be Wilson would get his starting role back after returning from injury, but the Cowboys starter during Wilson’s injury was free agent Jayron Kearse and to say he ran with the opportunity would be an understatement.
While Kearse was putting up Pro Bowl numbers, Wilson was forced to sit on the sidelines until Week 6 when the Cowboys faced the Patriots. Wilson would only see 14 total snaps but over the next four games would slowly see his role increase. Unfortunately when Dallas traveled to Kansas City in week, 11 Wilson suffered another injury and was placed on IR missing four games. Wilson eventually returned when Dallas faced Washington at home in Week 16, but to end the season Wilson finished with just 380 snaps. To put that into perspective, in just four games in 2022 Wilson has 266 snaps.
Ever since Kearse suffered an injury in Week 1 that’s put him out of action for the last three games, Donovan Wilson has done the exact same thing Kearse did a year ago - take advantage. Wilson currently leads all safeties in pressures (6), stops (14), has the second most tackles (27), has allowed the fourth lowest passer rating (25.0), and has one interception while being the 11th highest graded safety in coverage (74.8). It also can’t be ignored that Next Gen Stats has Donovan ranked as the 2nd best safety in football.
The Cowboys will have three excellent safeties once Jayron Kearse is back. Imagine saying that just two or three years ago. The conversation about a Donovan Wilson breakout is over, it’s here and he’s no longer in the “underrated” conversation.