The Dallas Cowboys still have their 2018 starting safeties on the roster in Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods, but they haven’t been shy about letting it known they plan on upgrading the position further this offseason. They added George Iloka through free agency, but they will likely further address the position at some point in the 2019 NFL Draft.
It wouldn’t be all that surprising if the Dallas Cowboys used their first selection in the second-round at 58 overall to find their future starting safety, but nothing set in stone right now. No one really knows how things will fall when the draft gets underway, which is why I decided to share with you some potential safety prospects the Cowboys could target in each round.
Let’s take a look…
Johnathan Abram, Mississippi State
Taylor Rapp and Johnathan Abram were both Dallas Cowboys 30 pre-draft visitors and both would be great additions if still on the board at 58. But of the two, Abram has most likely shot to still be available for the Cowboys. Abram would be an upgrade at strong safety and bring a little bit more athleticism to the position. He would likely play the Kam Chancellor “enforcer” role in Kris Richard’s scheme and do most of his work around the line of scrimmage.
Juan Thornhill, Virginia
If Rapp and Abram are off the board at 58 for the Cowboys, Juan Thornhill could be a versatile chess piece in the secondary that could be just too good to pass up. His versatility to play cornerback or safety could allow Kris Richard to get really creative with his coverage concepts. This would likely move Xavier Woods to strong safety, but it would improve the athleticism on the backend of defense and give them a ball hawk to hopefully create some more turnovers.
Amani Hooker, Iowa
Amani Hooker was a versatile chess piece in Iowa’s defense in his two years as a starter and could do the same with the Dallas Cowboys. He doesn’t play like an athletically quick twitched athlete on film, but his instincts to read and react in both the passing and running game are among the best in the safety draft class. His lack of ideal range will likely mean he would play strong safety for the Cowboys, but he has ability to be an upgrade over Jeff Heath as a rookie.
Mike Edwards, Kentucky
Mike Edwards was a four-year starter at Kentucky and covered a lot of ground as a safety and nickel defender during his time with the Wildcats. He doesn’t really have any elite traits and will struggle against speedy receivers, but his intellect and movement skills could allow him to earn a starting job in the NFL. He’s a good tackler around the line of scrimmage and would be a core special-teams player, but might not be an upgrade as a rookie over Jeff Heath.
Marquise Blair, Utah
Marquise Blair was kind of a hybrid defender during his time at Utah. He played free safety, boundary linebacker, and was a thumper of a box safety. He has a tenacious mentality and reminds me a little bit of Kam Chancellor, although a 195 pound version. He needs to do a better job of playing under control, because his heatseeking missile mentality can get him in trouble at times. He is kind of a “tweener” safety prospect, but would be a nice addition if paired with Xavier Woods.
Will Harris, Boston College
Will Harris was a three-year starter at strong safety during his time at Boston College. He showcases good speed and movement skills on film, but had unimpressive ball production as a starter. He has the ability to carry receivers vertically or matchup with tight ends in the passing game, but he needs to further develop his vision and anticipation at the next level. He could compete for a starting job as a rookie, but probably needs more time to develop his craft before he can be relied upon as an every down player.
Khari Willis, Michigan State
Khari Willis was another one of the Dallas Cowboys 30 pre-draft visitors and could be an intriguing Day 3 option if they don’t add a safety earlier in the draft. I think Willis might play kind of a hybrid safety/linebacker role in the NFL. He was a three-star LB recruit coming out of high school, but played as a boundary safety in Michigan State’s 4-3 defensive scheme. He is an excellent tackler and shows a really good understanding with his run fits, but his average athletic ability limits him in the passing game.
Sheldrick Redwine, Miami
Sheldrick Redwine is a three-year starter at Miami and started out as a cornerback before making the switch to safety his last two seasons with the Hurricanes. He is one of the more athletically gifted safety prospects in this year’s draft class, but needs more development before he can be relied upon. He tracks the football well in the passing game, but is unreliable as a tackler and often takes poor angles. He has the speed and skill set to start in the NFL, but projects as a special teamer and rotational player as a rookie.
JoJo McIntosh, Washington
JoJo McIntosh could be someone the Dallas Cowboys take a chance on in the seventh-round, but they could possibly pick him up as an undrafted free agent. He was part of a formidable tandem with Taylor Rapp in Washington, but his lack of speed and athleticism will hurt him at the next level. He probably can’t be trusted in pass coverage, but could carve out a role as an “enforcer” type player in the NFL.
John Battle, LSU
John Battle, like JoJo McIntosh is also someone the Cowboys could probably pick up as an undrafted free agent, but they could take a chance on him in the seventh-round. He is at his best working around the line of scrimmage in run support, but really needs to do a better job of playing under control and with better technique. I wouldn’t trust him in coverage, but he has traits worth developing and would be a core special-teams player as a rookie.