The Dallas Cowboys have had quite a bit of success finding defensive backs in the later rounds of the NFL Draft to help fill out their depth chart and even get significant snaps from. Kavon Frazier, Anthony Brown, and Xavier Woods all played significant snaps for the Cowboys either on special teams or as a part of the defense. It’s looking like they’ve found another player in the later rounds in Safety Donovan Wilson.
Wilson exploded onto the scene his rookie season when he collected three interceptions in the preseason. Fans and analysts began to clamor for more of the rookie playmaker as the Cowboys continued to struggle in the secondary, at the safety position in particular. That desire to see Wilson get some snaps in the secondary and play for a Cowboys defense that couldn’t get a turnover, was never realized by a Jason Garrett coaching staff that was generally reluctant to play rookies.
Heading into this season, it looked like Wilson would get a chance. Jeff Heath left for Las Vegas. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix couldn’t stick around. However, heading into the season, the coaching staff favored Darian Thompson to start alongside Woods instead of the playmaking Wilson.
Donovan Wilson is finally getting an opportunity full time to develop into the playmaker that we got a glimpse of in the 2019 preseason.
Against the Philadelphia Eagles, Wilson had a sack and forced a fumble on Carson Wentz early in the game. But more than that, it was the aggressive nature that he brings to the secondary. As Wentz started to scramble, Wilson took off and went hard after the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback and put a physical hit on the quarterback and had the awareness to swipe at the football, forcing the fumble. It was another sign of his growing comfort level in the defense and in the NFL and hopefully it’s a sign of what’s to come in the Cowboys’ secondary.
Wilson was seventh on the team in snaps on Sunday Night Football and finished with the third highest grade according to Pro Football Focus behind DeMarcus Lawrence and Trevon Diggs. Wilson was targeted just twice, and while he allowed receptions on both targets, he only allowed eight receiving yards on Sunday Night. The face that Dallas Goedert was targeted just once on the evening shows an improvement in the play of the safeties.
In 2020, Wilson has 20 tackles, seven “stops” per Pro Football Focus, and two sacks. Though he’s missed six tackles, he’s been one of the more aggressive players in the Cowboys’ defense. As the old adage goes, if you’re going to make a mistake, do it going hard and fast. Wilson hasn’t been perfect, but his playmaking and aggressive nature provide signs that he could be one of the two answers at the safety position in 2021 for the Dallas Cowboys.