The Dallas Cowboys secondary has been the subject of much discussion this offseason. With the hiring of former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard, many expect the Cowboys to change their defensive back thresholds, and shuffle around the personnel.
Fans are hoping Richard will build a new version of the Legion of Boom in Dallas, centered around long cornerbacks and a physical strong safety. To complete the puzzle, however, they’d need someone who can play free safety and execute as a centerfielder. Someone who can fulfill the Earl Thomas role to a certain extent. It could be argued that Byron Jones has the skillset to fill that role, but it has been reported Richard would like to move him to cornerback full time.
The safety who should be focused on by Cowboys Nation moving forward, however, might be Xavier Woods. The former sixth round pick was considered a steal during the 2017 NFL Draft, and his rookie season verified that as well.
Xavier Woods finished his rookie season with 41 tackles, 1 for loss, 1 fumble recovery, and an interception. Woods was used as an X-Factor so to speak, moving around the defense and providing position flexibility. Playing as the nickel corner, the strong safety, and the free safety at times, Woods made his impact felt from multiple spots.
While this versatility lends him more to Nickel and Dime packages on defense, I believe he could be a full time free safety if given the opportunity to do so. No, he isn’t the prototypical “centerfielder” like Thomas is in Seattle, but Woods could be an important chess piece for this young secondary.
I believe he was misused as a slot cornerback, and is better suited to play safety going forward. Hopefully with new blood in the defensive coaching staff, and a full season worth of film on Xavier Woods’ strengths and weaknesses, the Cowboys will find a way to make this talented player valuable on the field.