The Dallas Cowboys have some intriguing young talent at safety. But with Byron Jones returning to the cornerback position, a starting spot is open and more talent is needed. As such, safety should be high on the team’s draft priorities in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Right now, Dallas has returning starter Jeff Heath and two exciting prospects in Xavier Woods and Kavon Frazier. Could a good starting pair and solid depth option be found out of that three? Sure. Maybe.
That “maybe” is the issue, and one the Cowboys may not want to live with in 2018. If they can go from “solid” to “strength” at safety with a high draft pick, it could make a significant impact on the defense now and for years to come.
Remember, those three guys we named are two sixth-round picks (Frazier, Woods) and an undrafted player (Health). While that certainly doesn’t preclude them from becoming stars, it doesn’t give you great odds.
At this point, we know what Jeff Heath is. While he has a knack for making the occasional interception, he’s not a consistent threat and can be a liability at times in coverage. For all the “G.O.A.T.” jokes we love to make on Twitter, he’s certainly a guy who could be upgraded.
Ideally, that upgrade would come from within. But both Xavier Woods and Kavon Frazier seem more like hard-hitters you want playing closer to the line of scrimmage. Neither may be the center-fielder who can really round out the defensive backfield.
The desire for that rangy, play-making threat is what has many Cowboys fans clamoring for the team to trade for veteran All-Pro Earl Thomas from Seattle. A discussion that goes back to last December, Thomas put himself on the Dallas radar by finding Jason Garrett in the locker room and imploring the Cowboys to try to acquire him following a Cowboys-Seahawks game.
Dallas could certainly use a player like Earl Thomas, but at what cost? And is he really worthy that price?
Thomas turns 29 in May and expects to be paid like one of the best safeties in the game. His current deal, which expires in 2018, paid and average of $10 million each year. He’s going to want at least that going forward.
That’s a lot of money to tie up in a guy who’s about to turn 30, and just signing him as a free agent would be concerning. The prospect of also having to send a high draft pick creates even more worry.
Even if the Cowboys could get Thomas for a 2nd, is that the best return for that pick.
Let’s say Dallas could draft a top name like Derwin James or Minkah Fitzpatrick in the first round. That player should provide an immediate upgrade while also making a rookie’s salary. And unlike Earl Thomas, they should be in their prime for at least another 7-8 seasons instead of maybe another 2-3 years.
Not every high pick turns into an Earl Thomas, though, and that’s the debate for what makes the most sense. Do you take a proven elite at a higher salary and with a shorter shelf life, or do you gamble on a rookie?
We don’t know how realistic a Thomas trade is at this point. If Seattle won’t budge on their first-round pick demand then it’s a moot point. But if they do come down to a second, Dallas may have a tough decision to make.
If that doesn’t happen, Dallas may very well use their 19th overall pick at safety.
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Other 2018 Draft Needs articles:
- Running Back
- Wide Receiver
- Tight End
- Offensive Tackle
- Center & Guard
- Defensive End
- Defensive Tackle
- Special Teams