There wasn't much to be enthusiastic about when it came to the 2020 Dallas Cowboys, especially defensively. Offensive lines opened up lanes as big as the state of Texas as the Cowboy's defense yielded the second-most rushing yards per game and gave up the most points in team history. However, there was a bright spot at the safety position.
Donovan Wilson logged 674 snaps (61% of the team's defensive plays) last season in 14 games with 10 starts after logging just 16 snaps as a rookie. He took full advantage of his time on the field as he amassed 71 tackles, two interceptions, three passes defended, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and 3.5 sacks.
The former Texas A&M Aggie is looking to take his game to a higher level in 2021 after his first year of significant playing time.
“I'm just looking to build off that and put together a better season this year,” Wilson said, via the team's website. “Just work as hard as I can this offseason to make that possible.”
Wilson didn't make his first start last season until Week 5 but it was his performance against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 8 that put everyone on notice about how good he could be. Albeit in a loss, Wilson recorded five tackles, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a sack. Two weeks later, he turned in his best game as a pro against the Minnesota Vikings with nine tackles, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and a half-sack in a 31-28 victory.
After tying a career-high with 10 tackles a week later against the Washington Football Team, Wilson was inactive for two weeks with a groin injury. Despite the small setback, he finished last season strong with 18 tackles, two interceptions, three passes defended, and a sack in the final three games.
The Cowboys showed their confidence in Wilson at the tail end of last season. He played every defensive snap in four of the last five games he played in (his 83 snaps in Week 15 were good for 99 percent of the team's defensive plays) and firmly cemented himself as one of the team's best defensive playmakers.
Wilson had a slight injury setback recently that kept him out of mandatory minicamp. However, it's not anything serious and he'll be ready to go for training camp next month.
“A little soreness, but it's nothing that's going to hold me back,” Wilson said last week. “Just going to work on that this offseason and come back for Oxnard ready to go.”
Unlike last season when he started behind veteran Darian Thompson on the depth chart, Wilson is in the driver seat as the top strong safety on the roster. With that comes big expectations, and Wilson is poised to take his game to a higher plateau.