One of the more difficult things for NFL teams to accomplish is finding players late in the NFL Draft to not only contribute early, but to develop into starters down the road. The Dallas Cowboys are no exception, but they have recently been able to find late round gems. This is especially true in the 6th round, because it looks as if they have struck gold once again in back to back drafts.
The Dallas Cowboys 2016 draft class was simply phenomenal last season and could turn out to be one the best in the history of the franchise. Lost in the shuffle because of all of the attention Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott received, is the outstanding play of the Cowboys 6th round draft pick Anthony Brown.
Not much was expected from Brown as a rookie, but due to injuries he ended up having to start nine games in his first year in the NFL for Dallas. He was a bright spot for the Cowboys’ secondary and finished the season with 55 tackles, eight passes defensed, one interception, and one forced fumble.
Brown is looking to build on his rookie success in 2017 and is likely competing for a starting job at one of the outside cornerback positions. I know it’s still a little early to predict the trajectory his career will take, but when you think about what he has already accomplished, he looks like a 6th round steal.
Anthony Brown certainly looks like the real deal, which is definitely hard to find from a player selected on Day 3 of the NFL Draft. But, the Dallas Cowboys may have struck gold once again in the 6th round in 2017 with the selection of former Louisiana Tech safety, Xavier Woods.
To say that the Dallas Cowboys lucked into making Xavier Woods a member of the team is an understatement. Woods was one of the Cowboys’ 30 pre-draft visitors and someone they thought very highly of. So, to see him still sitting there in the 6th round was a temptation they simply couldn’t pass up.
The Dallas Cowboys decided to trade a future 2018 5th round draft pick to the New York Jets in order to draft Xavier Woods 191st overall. By the way, that’s just two selections after the Cowboys drafted Anthony Brown (189th overall) the year before.
I don’t know about any of you, but I was really hoping the Cowboys would trade up in the fifth round to secure Woods’ services, so to get him in the 6th round was simply amazing. I actually have high expectations for Woods, but I just don’t know how much of an impact he can have as a rookie.
Woods has the talent to become a starting safety in the NFL. His extremely aggressive and plays with a fearlessness in both the running and passing game. He has excellent ball skills and always seems to be around the ball making plays. Those are definitely attributes the Cowboys’ secondary can use.
Unfortunately, Woods is buried on the depth chart at the safety position. Byron Jones is without a doubt the starting free safety and it is starting to look like Jeff Heath has locked down the starting spot opposite Jones. So, barring some unforeseen injury (heaven forbid), Woods is going to have a hard time seeing a lot of playing time in his first year in the NFL.
Xavier Woods still has training camp to make a case for himself in order to earn playing time in 2017, but it is an uphill battle. Woods is likely to play the role of a core special teams player as a rookie, but I could see the scenario where he earns a rotational role at safety this season.
Even though Xavier Woods might not have the same type of impact Anthony Brown did as a rookie for the Cowboys doesn’t mean Dallas didn’t strike gold once again in the 6th round. Woods might just take a little longer to prove himself.