The safety position has been a major topic of discussion for quite some time in Dallas. Future Hall of Fame Safety Darren Woodson set a bar in the 90s that has yet to he reached since. The organization took a major step forward locking down the free safety spot when they drafted Xavier Woods.
Playing his college ball at Louisiana Tech, the homegrown product wasn’t seen a lot nationally, but that didn’t stop him from producing at a high level. He would tally 14 interceptions and 6 forced fumbles in his last three years, a true ball-hawking safety to say the least. As he slid to the 6th round in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys couldn’t resist, selecting him at pick 191.
He played in all 16 games as a rookie, starting 4. He racked up 42 tackles, 3 pass breakups, and an interception. In 2018 he started all 14 games he played in. With more playing time comes more production, as his tackles increased to 56, his pass breakups to 9 and his interceptions doubled to 2.
In addition to having excellent ball skills, he’s also a head hunter. Just ask receivers league-wide as they basically get decapitated week to week by Woods with his striking power. He doesn’t just separate pass catchers from the ball, he knocks them into another galaxy, as evident by his hit stick, to use a Madden reference, on Saints Tight End Dan Arnold in the Cowboys week 13 win in Dallas last season.
Want more evidence of how good Xavier Woods is? Look no further than the red zone, as his play got even better when the pressure was the biggest. In 2018, he allowed a passer rating of 79.2, good for sixth amongst safeties in the league. Even more impressive, he forced incompletions on 80 percent of the passes he defended, which ranked 1st for all safeties, absolutely tasty statistics.
He also lacks no confidence in his abilities. For over a year, before he was signed by the Ravens, the talks of future Hall of Fame Safety Earl Thomas coming to Big D were embedded in the minds of Cowboys fans. However, Woods didn’t let that derail his focus.
“I just worry about what I can control, and that’s me playing out there every day. I’m trying to give them a reason not to want anybody. That’s my point of view, I pay no attention to it. I just control what I can control. I have the starting role now, and I have no plan on giving it to anyone else.”
As he enters year three, Woods has firmly positioned himself to be the Cowboys free safety for the foreseeable future. Receivers around the league would be wise to keep their heads on a swivel because there’s no doubt that Woods will be lurking.