After already drafting two cornerbacks on day two, the Cowboys looked to add depth at safety on day three. And when the opportunity to trade up to steal what should have been a third round safety in the sixth round presented itself, the Cowboys had no choice but to do it.
Like Colorado's Chidobe Awuzie, Woods is a versatile player which was used in a bunch of different roles while in college. Playing in the slot, on the outside, in the box as a safety, and over the top as the single high safety, Xavier Woods was La Tech's own Swiss-Army Knife.
Not only did he play in all those roles, he excelled in them as well.
Here we see Woods in man coverage on the far hash. Maintaining inside leverage throughout the entire route, Woods sticks to the receiver's back hip and stays in good position. Letting the quarterback's eyes take him to the ball, Woods jumps on the route and comes away with the interception.
Normally when safeties come down to play in man coverage against receivers, they tend to look awkward or out of place. Woods, on the other hand, looks rather comfortable doing so. With the ability to guard against tight ends and both X and Z wide-outs, Wood's versatility certainly made him attractive to the Cowboys.
Where Xavier Woods is at his best, however, is in the true free safety role. When allowed to play safety and read his keys in front of him, Woods does a nice job of filling his run fits, playing physical, and making tackles.
A rather sure-tackler, Xavier Woods will be a nice change-up from other Cowboys safeties in past years, such as JJ Wilcox. Still, like Wilcox, Woods could improve his angles when coming downhill to make tackles.
Here we see Woods as a box safety, another role which he filled during his collegiate career. Woods quickly diagnoses the run play, reading his keys and scraping over top of the formation. Then, he comes up-field, breaks down, and makes the tackle.
At times, I would like see Woods break down before tackling more often. While he is a physical thumper, and a pretty sure-tackler, his fundamentals could use some work.
The last clip features Xavier Woods as the single high safety, ironically, against Dak Prescott. Sensing pressure, Prescott lobs the ball out for his tight end down the seam. Unfortunately for him, Xavier Woods is lurking over the top ready to deliver a blow.
Woods' closing speed and physicality flash on tape, especially on plays such as these. In the same game, Woods came from over the top and forced a fumble near the sidelines by punching the ball out while tackling. This awareness and football IQ is highly impressive, especially for a sixth round pick.
Of course, Xavier Woods is not without his flaws. Not a twitchy athlete, Woods sometimes struggles with faster receivers when trying to mirror them down the field. Also, if he gets beat off the line of scrimmage, he tends to have trouble recovering on speed alone.
All in all, Xavier Woods was an incredible value pick in the sixth round. From day one he will have a chance to compete with both Kavon Frazier and Jeff Heath for the starting safety job opposite Byron Jones.