For the second straight year the Dallas Cowboys may have found a diamond in the rough at defensive back in the sixth round. Last year, they did so in cornerback Anthony Brown, who ended up playing at a very high level over the final six games of 2016.
This year, they believe they have done so in safety Xavier Woods. Woods earned a third round grade on my draft board, and I advocated for the Cowboys taking him in that third round. Instead, they were able to wait until the sixth to get their guy.
After not seeing much time during the Hall of Fame game last week, however, we have to wonder what role Woods will play this weekend against the Los Angeles Rams.
Woods brought a ton of position versatility to his defense at Louisiana Tech. Playing as a slot cornerback, single high safety, and as a box safety, Woods moves around the field and makes his presence felt wherever he is.
Back when Dallas drafted Woods I completed a scouting report on him, concluding that he would provide incredible value for the Cowboys in the sixth round.
“Here we see Woods in man coverage on the far hash. Maintaining inside leverage throughout the entire route, Woods sticks to the receiver's back hip and stays in good position. Letting the quarterback's eyes take him to the ball, Woods jumps on the route and comes away with the interception.”
If the Cowboys intend to have Xavier Woods on their team for the future, I doubt they will be able to just sneak him on the practice squad. It's possible they will try to hold him back during the preseason to “hide” him from opposing teams, but I don't believe this strategy could work with Woods.
He needs to get reps in order to feel comfortable and be ready to play if needed during his rookie season. Those reps need to begin this Saturday against the Los Angeles Rams, because as Staff Writer Sean Martin pointed out earlier this week, the Cowboys' third safety spot is still very much up in the air.
And if given the right opportunities, Woods may just be able to snag that position.