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NFL Draft

Safety Xavier Woods Provides Incredible Value For a 6th Rd. Pick (FIlm Review)

Kevin Brady



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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.

Giving up next year's fifth round pick to the New York Jets in order to move up in this year's sixth, the Cowboys used this draft pick to snag Louisiana Tech safety Xavier Woods.

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.

nfldraft woods 2 - Streamable

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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.

nfldraft woods 5 - Streamable

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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.

nfldraft woods 3 - Streamable

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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.

nfldraft woods 7 - Streamable

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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.

Whether he wins that competition or not, the Cowboys found a good player and a special teams contributor in the sixth round of the 2017 NFL Draft in Xavier Woods.

Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and am currently a college student. Lets get going.

1 Comment
  • John Williams

    I really liked his ability to trust that his safety help was there on the first play you showed. Was all over the receiver and in all honesty, the QB shouldn’t have thrown that ball. There was really no where to go with it unless you put it up and away from the covering defender. Woods does a nice job positionally giving himself a chance to undercut the route and go get the ball.

NFL Draft

Report: Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch Visiting Cowboys

Kevin Brady



2018 NFL Combine: 3 LBs Who Impressed
Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

As the 2018 NFL Draft draws closer, teams are beginning to hold their official visits with prospects of their own choosing. The Cowboys have already met with a few different prospects thus far, and they've reportedly added a linebacker to that list this week.

Multiple reports are saying the Cowboys will meet with Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch this week, adding him to the list of 30 potential visits.

Marcus Mosher on Twitter

BoiseState LB Leighton Vander Esch will be a pre-draft visitor for the #Cowboys. Add him to your list of 30, per Tony Pauline.

Vander Esch is a bit of a controversial prospect in the draft world. As I've stated before, he tested like a freak athletically, and his combine profile alone would put him in the discussion on day one. The problems I have with Vander Esch have nothing to do with his athleticism, however, and everything to do with his actual football-playing ability.

On film, I see a player who struggles to get off blocks and will have trouble finding a home with the Cowboys. Still, I wouldn't mind the Cowboys drafting Vander Esch - that pick cannot come in the first round though.

Vander Esch is a long, rangy, and athletic linebacker who is at his best playing laterally and tracking down plays. As a blitzer, Vander Esch has some rather clear issues. He often runs directly into blocks and is unable to shed at the point of attack. I also don't think he is as instinctual a player as some of the other linebackers in this class, such as BYU's Fred Warner or Alabama's Rashaan Evans.

The way things are looking, however, Vander Esch is going to be a first round pick. And if not, he'll almost certainly be a top 50 pick. I wouldn't be very comfortable taking him at 19, and I'd have to think twice before even taking him at 50 for that matter.

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NFL Draft

2018 NFL Draft: Dallas Cowboys Meeting with Texas Safety DeShon Elliott

Sean Martin



2018 NFL Draft: Dallas Cowboys Meeting with Texas Safety DeShon Elliott
(Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire)

With more pressing needs on offense at guard and wide receiver, and defensively at DE or LB, the Cowboys' concerning lack of proven ability at safety has taken a backseat in this offseason's roster build. With the expectation that new Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard will elevate the play of the entire Cowboys' secondary, the team is doing their due diligence on safeties available in the 2018 NFL Draft - starting with Texas' DeShon Elliott.

Josh Norris on Twitter

It appears Texas S DeShon Elliott is visiting the #Cowboys today

With 63 tackles and six interceptions in his final season at Texas, Elliott took full advantage of being a starter in the Big 12 for the first time in his career, flying onto the NFL Draft scene.

Elliott is a well-balanced, average athlete with the upside to be targeted late in April's draft and make a difference.

If they had to play a game tomorrow, the Cowboys would be rolling with Jeff Heath, Xavier Woods, and Kavon Frazier at safety.

Finding an expanded role this season for Frazier should be a priority in Dallas, as should supplementing Heath and Woods with additional talent. DeShon Elliott would fit this group well, along with the Cowboys' scheme, given his range and disruptive ability.

Should Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, and now Byron Jones help the Cowboys reach their full potential at CB, the Cowboys safeties will not be tested in single coverage up the field often. This is an area that Elliott was exploited in at Texas plenty of times, performing better as a true free safety or second-level player.

Continuing to add young talent at the right price is key to the Cowboys' ongoing rebuild on defense, now visiting with a local safety prospect that should be available to them in the later rounds. Texas' DeShon Elliott is officially a name to consider come draft week in Dallas.

Tell us what you think about "2018 NFL Draft: Dallas Cowboys Meeting with Texas Safety DeShon Elliott" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft: PSU WR DaeSean Hamilton Fits Cowboys’ “Type”

Kevin Brady



Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Last week, I detailed what the Cowboys tend to look for when drafting a wide receiver. In terms of a combine profile, Dallas clearly has a "type" of wide-out they like to target.

The Cowboys certainly need to upgrade their receiving corps, but with the plethora of other holes to fill, they may not be able to do so until the 3rd or 4th round. Luckily for the Cowboys, there is at least one receiver which both fits their profile and should be available early on day three.

That player is Penn State wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

Working on something for @InsideTheStarDC... here's the height, weight, 40 time, and 3 cone for every WR DAL has taken since 2010.

First, let's re-examine what the Cowboys like to look for. As you can see from the above graphic, the Cowboys draft targets all seem to fit a similar profile. If we treat Dez Bryant as their "ideal" draft pick, the trends become even clearer. Dallas wants to find a wide-out who is about 6'1" 205 pounds, runs nearly a 4.5 40 yard dash, and about a 6.9 three come time.

DeaSean Hamilton, coincidentally, is 6'1" 203 pounds, ran a 4.47 40 yard dash at the Penn State pro day, and ran a 6.84 three cone at the combine. Penn State's all time receptions leader stole the show at the 2018 Senior Bowl, putting all of "Draft Twitter" on notice to his talent.

An efficient and smooth route runner, Hamilton looks natural coming in and out of breaks, creating separation with his precise routes. The Cowboys don't have many receivers on their roster who can win with their route running, and adding a player like Hamilton would greatly help third year quarterback Dak Prescott moving forward.

With the ability to play in the slot, as well as potentially being a Z receiver for the Cowboys and a replacement for Terrance Williams, Hamilton would be an excellent draft target in the third or fourth round. And, keeping in mind how nicely he fits their typical draft profile, I'd expect Dallas to target Hamilton during the 2018 NFL Draft.

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