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Can Donovan Wilson Challenge Ha Ha Clinton-Dix For Strong Safety Role?

For a few seasons now, Xavier Woods has been the man at free safety for the Dallas Cowboys. After losing Jeff Heath to the Las Vegas Raiders in free agency, the Cowboys signed veteran Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to plug the hole.

In 2019, however, sixth-round pick Donovan Wilson burst onto the scene. After leading the Cowboys and the entire league with three interceptions in the preseason, Wilson was set to challenge Heath for the starting role at strong safety. Unfortunately, an ankle injury put Wilson on the shelf and he never really saw the field last season.

Now, it sets up an interesting battle between Clinton-Dix and Wilson for who will takeover opposite Woods.

Clinton-Dix was one of the better safeties in the NFL during his first five seasons with the Green Bay Packers. Clinton-Dix racked up 351 tackles, 25 pass breakups, and 14 interceptions (made the Pro Bowl in 2016). He was traded to the Washington Redskins for a fourth-round pick in October of 2018 and had 66 tackles in 10 games.

The Chicago Bears signed Clinton-Dix to a one-year 5.5 million dollar deal before last season. Starting all 16 games, he registered 78 tackles and two interceptions (including his first pick-six).

Mike McCarthy coached Clinton-Dix for his first five seasons in Green Bay, so it makes sense that he brought in the veteran at a position of need for Dallas. Clinton-Dix will definitely have the leg up on Wilson for 2020.

Wilson, now healthy and ready to make plays, simply has to continue the momentum he had going in 2019. What makes Wilson such an interesting player, is that he has the skill set to play both safety or nickel corner. At Texas A&M, he played as a nickel corner for two years and produced six of his eight interceptions in college. Also, he had an unbelievable ability to make plays behind the line of scrimmage with 21.5 tackles for loss.

Another reason Wilson a chance to beat out Clinton-Dix is his ability to create turnovers. On top of his eight interceptions in college, he also had four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. The Cowboys have struggled to take to ball away on defense for years so Wilson could definitely provide a boost in that area.

Even though safety Darian Thompson signed a two-year extension with the Cowboys in March, I feel Clinton-Dix and Wilson will be the top two guys who will battle it out for the starting role at strong safety. Regardless of who comes out on top, the Cowboys are fortunate to have viable options at the position.



What do you think?

Matthew Lenix

Written by Matthew Lenix

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


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  1. McCarthy has a whole slew of talent he’s gonna have to sort through at various positions that were either hurt or buried on the depth chart. Nice to have a fresh set of eyes to evaluate what the cowboys have and dont have.
    I think if Luke Gifford can stay healthy he has a good shot at being a strong LB esp with LVE and Lee being prone to injury.
    I also hope they will give Jourdan Lewis a real shot and don’t bone him because he’s a little shorter than some of the others. The kid can flat out play. He’s the most underestimated player on the defensive side of the ball.

  2. The good thing is we have options. Have to see more of Wilson, preseason is obviously not the same as reg games. Like the INTs and TFL etc. In college. Thought Thompson made some good plays last year. Clinton-Dix has the experience and has been a good player. But he may be considered a one year rental. But again, with these options, we are in pretty good shape at Safety with the potential of this trio and Woods. Also would like to see UFA Luther.

  3. I think Wilson and Thompson should battle it out for the strong safety position and Clinton Dix and Woods should battle It out for the free safety position!! I know Clinton Dix can play either spot, but he is way better as a free safety!! Who knows, maybe that’ll be the way they do it and we’ll end up with Wilson as our strong safety and Clinton Dix as our free safety!! I know Woods is a pretty good strong safety too, so maybe they’ll put him as our strong safety and Clinton Dix as our free safety!! Either way I think Clinton Dix is better at free safety!! But I guess we’ll have to wait till they can get to training camp before we’ll know what they decide to do with them!!

  4. The assumption that Xavier Woods is a lock starter is limiting to this discussion, he has been dependable but not outstanding. Also, the Cowboys have typically referred to their safeties as interchangeable. In the new Nolan defense that may be even more true with more two high safety looks. Based on performance in the league Clinton-Dix is the most likely lock to start at one safety spot. Donovan Wilson should then give Woods a run for the second spot. If they move Jourdan Lewis or Chidobe Awuzie to safety as rumored then Woods may end up being the odd one out.

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