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2020 is a Critical Year for the Safety Position in Dallas

The Dallas Cowboys have been busy revamping the defensive talent on their roster this offseason. They beefed up the defensive line in free agency with the additions of Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe, and Aldon Smith before adding Neville Gallimore and Bradlee Anae in the NFL Draft. Rookies Trevon Diggs and Reggie Robinson were both steals in the draft and instantly upgrade the Cowboys at cornerback.

The safety position for the Cowboys defense, however, has some question marks entering the 2020 season.

Xavier Woods

Report: Cowboys S Xavier Woods Could Only Miss One Game

Woods hasn’t put his name up there with guys like Jamal Adams, Tyrann Mathieu, or Derwin James but he’s been a very solid NFL safety since entering the league in 2017. On a defense that took a step back last season, Woods had his best year with 77 tackles, five pass breakups, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. He was 11th in passer rating for safeties that played at least 343 snaps in coverage.

During his brief career, he’s been very dependable having appeared in 45 out of a possible 48 games with 33 starts. His spot as the starting free safety is secured, but he’ll be more motivated than ever to ball out as he enters a contract season.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

Cowboys Acquire Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, add Much-Needed Depth at S

Clinton-Dix, much like Woods, is entering a contract season himself. He’s been a very reliable player since coming into the league in 2014. Since 2015, he’s started in all 16 games every season (started 90 out of 96 possible games in his career). He may not be quite the same player he was when he was named to the Pro Bowl and selected as a second-team All-Pro in 2016, but his experience at both free and strong safety make him a valuable asset.

Also, he had his best years under new Cowboys Head Coach Mike McCarthy in Green Bay. Another added bonus is former cornerback Al Harris who was added as the team’s new Assistant Secondary Coach and could also help Clinton-Dix regain some of his old form a secure a starting role opposite Woods.

Donovan Wilson 

Cowboys S Donovan Wilson's Stock Continues to Rise

Wilson was one of the biggest bright spots during last year’s preseason. He led all players with three interceptions and was primed to challenge Jeff Heath for the starting role at strong safety. Unfortunately, his momentum was derailed by an ankle injury and he didn’t see much field action. He appeared in 11 games but only registered two tackles all season. What’s unique about Wilson is that he also has experience playing nickel corner from his days at Texas A&M. He also amassed 21.5 tackles for loss and eight interceptions during his college days.

What will hurt Wilson is the NFL not having a preseason in 2020. With a guy like Clinton-Dix ahead of him having another big preseason was crucial, now, he’ll have to make every training camp snap count.

Darian Thompson 

2020 is a Critical Year for the Safety Position Dallas

Thompson has done a little bouncing around the league since 2016. After two years with the New York Giants, and a brief one-day stint on the Arizona Cardinals practice squad, he was signed by the Cowboys in October of 2018. After being released in November, he was signed back to the team and appeared in 10 games on special teams. Last season, he showed he had some value as he appeared in 15 games with four starts. He finished with 45 tackles, three pass breakups, 1.5 sacks, and a fumble recovery while also logging 223 special teams snaps.

In March, Thompson signed a two-year, 2.8 million dollar deal to remain in Dallas. If Clinton-Dix doesn’t quite live up to expectations Thompson could have a shot to challenge for an even bigger role in 2020.

There’s a lot to be figured out at the safety position before the season kicks off in September and it’ll definitely be one of the more interesting battles in training camp.

What do you think?

Matthew Lenix

Written by Matthew Lenix

I write dope stuff about the Dallas Cowboys and what not.

Comments

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  1. The real issue is the entire defense is made of spare parts.
    Safety is the least important part of defense today as teams are changing such that traditional safety roles are obsolete.
    First ,the Boys need to build a defense line, figure if they have any healthy linebackers, and shift through the multiple corners to see if any can play ….then, if all that is successful, only then, is it worth giving any thought to if old fashioned safety is even something to be used.

    • I’d have to disagree with you on that line of thinking. While I agree that DL is the most important part of a D, your next 2 levels of LB & DB are also extremely important. On a running play, if the tackle isn’t made at the LOS then LB need to shoot the gaps and bring down the RB. If they don’t make the tackle, then DB is the last line of defense. Many times SS makes the play AT the LOS, especially if he’s a good one.
      On passing plays, having 2 S that can both cover like FS is such an added plus to a defense that it’s never overstated. That’s the future of the S position: to have 2 S who can both stop the run at the LOS & also cover WR, TE & RB in the passing game.

    • After re-reading your post I realize we actually both think the same thing. I guess I misunderstood what you were saying at first. I should have read it more carefully. My bust.

  2. Nothing critical at this position. For one, the team doesn’t view the position in that regard. Secondly, all 4 of these guys are serviceable, at the very least and don’t have to “improve” to remain that way. If the team just decided to extend all these guys for the next 2-3 years so that they can continue to focus on the rest of the defense, I’m 100% down!

    … here it comes … somebody’s about to post how we need to get Adams in here. We’re already having to deal with the Rona, let’s leave that cancer/diva in New York please!

  3. That makes no sense at all. The Cowboys have one locked in starter at safety. Two guys are on one-year contracts. Another has an opt-out option. Plus Wilson’s progression. It’s absolutely critical.

    • Dude, why are you so terse and curt? If you write less opinion pieces and provide perspective/insight instead, then perhaps you won’t be offended by varying thoughts.

      “I wrote dope stuff about the Cowboys and what not” … it’s not about you, you know that right?

  4. So you’re saying that what’s critical is the need to sign these guys before the year is out? Or are you saying they all need to prove themselves? All of them except Wilson have already shown us what they are. What is so critical … I guess I don’t understand where you think there’s an urgency?

    I’m saying that we know exactly what we have. There’s not much Clinton-Dix, Woods, or Thompson can do to improve their stock. Woods could have a career year statistically and maybe get an over-valued offer during the off-season, but he’s replaceable … as they all are.

    I say sign these guys now, they won’t cost much (even as a group) and let them all grow together and serve this team for another 2-3 years. A better DL and CB group will make these guys better. None of them are going to be difference makers anyway … but they can all serve this team well.

  5. You just said that these players don’t have to improve so you’re basically saying they don’t have to work on their craft and I’m supposed to take what you say seriously? When one of the starting positions has to be figured out and guys are in contract seasons and another is trying to develop but theirs nothing critical at the position? Your logic makes no sense, like I said, have a good day

  6. You lack depth in your thinking. In fact, I didn’t say anything that much different than the first poster, but you seem to be harboring feelings.

    I said these players (with the exception of Wilson) are already who they are. You’re implying that they may suddenly become superstars? For you to suggest I’m saying they don’t need to work on their craft further proves a shallow mindset. Get out of your feels.

    For all we know this staff has already determined what all the roles are (very likely). Tell us exactly what has to happen in your eyes … the rest of us would like to eventually see the position upgraded to some degree, but there is absolutely no sense of urgency on this site at all … not from readers or contributors.

    It only gets critical at this time next year if some of these players have moved on or still have contracts pending, but this year isn’t critical.

    Now maybe you want to express that it’s critical for the individual players, I could give you that, but that’s what I’m asking you to expound on. Because as it relates to team … nothing urgent at this position right now.

  7. Personally I like when posters like Matthew are involved in our discussions. How can u offer insight without having opinions? So many of these guys that post throw out a great articles but then don’t follow up and engage the readers on any level. (Maybe disputes like this are why). These guys that post put alot of time and energy into what they do and I for one appreciate that. They are also extremely knowledgeable
    (obviously) and I always find myself wanting to hear more from them beyond the original article. I may disagree with what they say at times but will do so in a respectful manner (as I do with all readers). I just enjoy talking about my beloved cowboys with like minded individuals (even if we sometimes don’t agree). Good old fashioned civility is never out of fashion.

    • Gary, 9 of his last 12 posts have been regurgitated news stories from other sites, that doesn’t speak to putting “alot of time and energy into what they do”.
      “Cowboys LB unit ranked 2nd by Pro Football Focus”

      “Aldon Smith Works on His Hands in Training Video”

      “Cowboys Wide Receiver unit ranked Tops in the NFL by Pro Football Focus”

      “Cowboys Offensive Weapons ranked 3rd in the NFL, Tops in the NFC”

      “DeMarcus Lawrence Ranked NFL’s 10th Best Edge Rusher”

      “Zack Martin Ranked 2nd Best Interior Offensive Lineman by ESPN”

      “Tyron Smith Ranked NFL’s Top OT by ESPN”

      “Amari Cooper Ranked 10th Best WR by ESPN”

      “Ezekiel Elliott Helps Raise $85k for North Texas Food Bank”

      • This is the last time I’m ever gonna address anything you say. Let me tell you something, I’ve written for this site for over a year with no breaks in between (also write for two others). One thing I’m not going to allow is you or anybody else telling me I don’t put time into what I do. I’ve had over 500 articles published since June of last year. Not to mention working a full-time regular job. My work on this site speaks for itself.

        Yes, I have put those articles out because with the COVID pandemic eliminating normal protocol topics have been harder to come by. But again, you will not disrespect what I’ve put my time and effort into, like you could do any better. Now go run along with your BS and trying to discredit people who love what they do.

  8. With Adams being traded to Seattle we are looking are our safeties for the upcoming season. Adams was never gonna come to Dallas as he wants a huge contract.

  9. Matthew, no need to defend yourself. Lots of readers like your work, keep doing what you do. It is appreciated. You can’t/won’t change anyone else, just be true to yourself. I’ve written quite a bit of content on lots of topics and it is rare to get people to say positive things if they are inclined to write anythign at all. Keep up the great work!

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