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Are Cowboys, Safety Xavier McKinney On A Draft Day Collision Course?

The Dallas Cowboys have had some iconic safeties throughout the years.

Charlie Waters, Mel Renfro, Cliff Harris, Darren Woodson – Hall of Fame worthy players on the back-end of some classic defensive units.

It’s been quite a while since Dallas could claim with a straight-face that they’ve thought highly of their starting safeties, though. Lately the Cowboys have looked for bargains on the back-end, with day three picks and underpriced veterans late in free agency getting major gameday reps.

And while Jeff Heath has been solid and Xavier Woods has obvious potential, safety is as clear a need as can be on the Cowboys 2020 roster.

So why not draft one in the first round?

Alabama’s Xavier McKinney almost makes too much sense 17th overall. The man who has been compared to Minkah Fitzpatrick has etched his own route to the league, rising to the tops of this year’s safety class and earning first round consideration.

Cowboys Draft Target: Alabama Safety Xavier McKinney
Alabama safety Xavier McKinney

McKinney had an incredible Sophomore season in 2018, finishing with 74 tackles, three sacks, and two interceptions. He then followed up his impressive 2018 with a strong Junior season, tallying 95 tackles, three more sacks and a three picks. Box score stats don’t tell the whole story, of course, but they do hint at what McKinney does best.


McKinney truly is a jack of all trades at safety, playing in the slot, at free safety, and in the box at times at Alabama. While he has done it all, he’s certainly not a “master of none,” or a weird fit in a traditional NFL defense like some other “versatile” safeties have been in recent years.

McKinney would fit seamlessly into the Cowboys defense, easily working as a centerfielder while also showing the ability to be used as a matchup-piece against “modern” offensive sets.

He’ll likely be right there for the Cowboys in the first round, but will a new coaching staff mean a new philosophy on how the franchise views the safety position?

There is certainly a lot of smoke between the two, but McKinney does still feel like a long shot to be picked at 17 compared to players like K’lavon Chaisson and Kenneth Murray.

What do you think?


Written by Kevin Brady

Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.


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  1. I really hope we pick Mckinney in the 1st round!! We have been over looking the safety position for far too long now and it’s time to get us a star at the position!! And I believe Xavier Mckinney will be that guy!! That’s the only player I want us to draft in the 1st round!! I don’t want any other player in the first round!! We do need a slot receiver and a corner, but I would rather get Mckinney in the 1st round and then pick Aj Terrell or Damon Arnett or any of the best corners left in the 2nd round and then pick our slot receiver in the 3rd round!! But it don’t matter how we get those other positions as long as we get Xavier Mckinney in the 1st round!!

  2. I believe that if this new coaching staff can get the defense to stop people our offense has enough playmakers to win ! So adding A safety in the draft that can come in and make a difference right away sure couldn’t hurt! I just hope ( again sounding like a broken record) our OL stays healthy!

  3. I believe you guys are severely overlooking the position. Donovan Wilson will show up. Taking this into consideration, taking a top alpha corner in the 1st round would be the best choice. There is better coverage at the backend, than on the corners. And with the expiring contracts at corner, we need to add to the corner position 1st. But you can take this with a grain of salt, or take it seriously?

    • Finally someone who agrees. Safety is not a weakness as it has been years past. We have Haha and developing guys in Woods and Donovan Wilson who have looked great and forced turnovers. What we need is a #1 CB and D end.

    • That’s an interesting point. I’m a fan of Wilson but I’m also worried about going into the season with him as our Plan A. I just think there’s plenty of room to upgrade there (even over Xavier Woods if we get the right guy). Now – corner is for sure the more important position, so give me that CB1 in round one any day.

  4. I think McKinney is the best safety available this year and would be a good fit for Dallas. I would like to hear his name called at #17. This would be a great start to rebuilding the secondary.

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