It took some time for Donovan Wilson to finally be set loose in the Dallas Cowboys secondary, but in his first season as a starter for the Cowboys, he was a man on a mission. He played so well that heading into 2021, the Cowboys have at least one of their starting safety spots locked down.
Wilson finished sixth on the team snaps per Pro Football Focus and finished with the fourth-highest defensive grade per PFF. Two of the players that were ahead of him were Bradlee Anae, who played just six snaps in 2020, and Randy Gregory, who played 270 snaps last season.
The second-year safety finished sixth on the team in stops, tied for second on the team with four sacks on the season. He also had three forced fumbles, which was also second on the Cowboys last year.
Wilson displayed the playmaking ability that got people excited after the 2019 preseason, in which he had three interceptions. Wilson’s ability to come up and hit ball carriers and wide receivers put him in a position to make plays in both the running and passing game.
As Dan Quinn takes over the defense looking to recreate the Legion of Boom that led them to back to back Super Bowl appearances and a Championship, it appears he has someone to play the Kam Chancellor role on the defense. Wilson is at his best playing within 10-15 yards of the line of scrimmage. He’s not a safety you want playing in the deep middle of the field, but if you use him in short zones (middle hook or buzz defender) in cover-3, his instincts to play the football will shine.
Donovan Wilson shows an incredible knack for attacking the ball in the air and playing in zone defense. He has a good feel for where the quarterback is looking to go with the football and good quickness and timing when breaking on the ball.
It took until week four of his second season for the Cowboys coaching staff to allow him to showcase his playmaking capabilities. It’s a shame that he wasn’t able to get an opportunity earlier. However, looking forward, the Cowboys now know that they have a strong safety that they can rely on to make big plays for their secondary.
As they head into the offseason, the Cowboys need to find a more free safety type that can complement Donovan Wilson and allow him to do what he does best. That free safety compliment allows Wilson to roam around the short middle of the field, looking to wreak havoc. And the Cowboys defense will be the beneficiary of Donovan Wilson’s playmaking ability.