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Top 10 Safeties Cowboys Could Target After the 1st-Round

Brian Martin

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10 Safeties Dallas Cowboys Could Target After the 1st-Round

There has been quite a bit to talk about the Dallas Cowboys safety position this offseason, especially in regards to the possibility of trading for Earl Thomas or moving up in the draft to select Derwin James. Unfortunately, I don't really think either one of these moves happen, but that shouldn't discourage you.

The Dallas Cowboys already have a few safety options on the roster, but that shouldn't keep them from looking for an upgrade. Jeff Heath could reprise his role at free safety this season, but the other safety spot opposite him is completely up for grabs with Byron Jones moving back to cornerback.

Personally, I would like to see Xavier Woods get a shot at one of the starting positions, but that's something to debate and speculate about once we get a little further along into offseason workouts. That is why today I want to share with you the top 10 safeties I think the Cowboys could target after the first-round.

Rashaan Gaulden, Tennessee

Round Grade: 2nd

Rashaan Gaulden was a two-year starter for the Volunteers and was part of the No. 3 nationally ranked pass defense in 2017. He is a bit of a Swiss Army knife defensive back and has lined up at several different positions in the secondary during his time in college.

Gaulden was primarily the starting nickel or inside corner, but I think he projects better as a free safety in the NFL. He has the speed and toughness to play the position, but needs to become a little bit more disciplined. He has all the traits scouts look for in a safety prospect and a good foundation to build upon.

Jessie Bates, Wake Forest

Round Grade: 2nd

Jessie Bates played in 20 career games and has two years of starting experience during his time at Wake Forest. His decision to enter the 2018 NFL Draft is somewhat of a head scratcher since he had two years of eligibility remaining, but he looks like a surefire second-round draft pick.

Bates was the starting strong safety for the Demon Deacons, but probably projects better as a free safety in the NFL. He has a slight frame which could lead to durability issues down the road. Despite this, he is fearless in run support and shows good range and coverage instincts. He fits the mold of the kind of free safety the Dallas Cowboys are in search of.

Justin Reid

Stanford S Justin Reid (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)

Justin Reid, Stanford

Round Grade: 2nd

Justin Reid is the younger brother of Eric Reid, the former San Francisco 49ers safety. He was a two-year starter at Stanford and although he was listed as a free safety on the depth chart, he played several different roles in their secondary.

I believe Reid can be an interchangeable safety in the NFL who is capable of playing deep in coverage or in the box around the line of scrimmage. At Stanford he primarily played in the box or in man coverage in the slot. His smooth athleticism and versatility make him an intriguing second-round option for the Dallas Cowboys.

Jordan Whitehead, Pittsburgh

Round Grade: 3rd

Jordan Whitehead is a three-year starter at Pittsburgh and lined up primarily at strong safety. But, he also showed off his versatility by playing free safety, cornerback, and even played on offense. He is a premium athlete, but there are some concerns with him as a prospect.

He doesn't have the ideal frame NFL teams look for in a safety prospect and there is a little bit of concern with his character. He also needs to clean up his technique in coverage and play with better eye discipline. As a run defender he is an inconsistent tackler at times because of poor technique, which will need to be cleaned up in the NFL. Overall, he has starting ability, but there are a few things that need to be cleaned up before he is trustworthy.

Terrell Edmunds, Virginia Tech

Round Grade: 3rd

Terrell Edmunds is the brother of Tremaine Edmunds, a projected first-round linebacker who a lot of Dallas Cowboys fans would love to see available at 19. Terrell is a three-year starter at Virginia Tech and bounced around their secondary throughout his collegiate career.

Terrell is a sound run defender and has shown he can make plays on the ball in the passing game, but good route runners will eat him up. He is probably best suited to play in a defensive scheme that utilizes a lot of zone coverages because he really struggles when he's asked to play man to man.

Marcus Allen, Penn State

Round Grade: 3rd

Marcus Allen is a four-year starter at Penn State and helped lead them to a national championship. Despite being listed as a free safety on their depth chart, he played primarily around the line of scrimmage as a box safety.

Allen is an aggressive downhill tackler and finished his collegiate career with 321 tackles, ranking 5th overall in school history and only four behind Dallas Cowboys own, Sean Lee. He has the speed and athleticism to be a coverage safety, but he is much more comfortable making plays in front of him than he is when he has to play in reverse.

Dane Cruikshank

Arizona S Dane Cruikshank

Dane Cruikshank, Arizona

Round Grade: 3rd-4th

Dane Cruikshank was a two-year starter at Arizona. The former Wildcat first started his career at cornerback before making the transition to a hybrid safety role last season. He looks most comfortable as a overhang safety where he can blitz, defend against the run, or cover tight ends and receivers in the slot.

Cruikshank projects to be a strong safety in the NFL and has starting potential. He will struggle early on in coverage, but with time to develop could improve in this area. With the Dallas Cowboys, he would likely end up being a player similar to Barry Church, but they may already have that type of player in Kavon Frazier.

Tracy Walker, Louisiana Lafayette

Round Grade: 3rd-4th

Tracy Walker was a four-year starter at Louisiana Lafayette and was primarily used as a boundary safety. He is a former basketball player and as the frame to match. He needs to put in the work in the weight room in order to fill out his frame, but has starting potential.

I believe he could become an interchangeable safety in the NFL with little time to develop. He has the athleticism to become a rangy free safety and has the physicality to play down around the line of scrimmage in the box. He could compete for playing time as a rookie, but he might not be ready for a full-time starting gig.

Tarvarius Moore, Southern Miss

Round Grade: 3rd-4th

Tarvarius Moore is a former junior college transfer and one-your starter at Southern Miss. He put up eye-popping numbers and his pro day and has the potential to become the best free safety in the entire 2018 draft class.

Moore has yet to play his best football and will only continue to get better the more coaching and playing time he receives. His on-field athleticism and range really stand out when watching his game film and he shows really good pursuit angles when chasing down the ball carrier. He also isn't afraid to mix it up in the running game.

DeShon Elliott, Texas

Round Grade: 4th

For many Dallas Cowboys fans, DeShon Elliott's name probably stands out the most on this entire list. The Cowboys have already met with him and worked him out, so you know there is an interest in him in some capacity.

Elliott is a bit of an enigma as a safety prospect. At times he looks like a top prospect, but then in the next instant looks completely lost. He has only average athleticism and play speed, but he has a knack for finding himself in the right place at the right time. He looks more comfortable around the line of scrimmage than he does in coverage. He will likely be a special teams standout as a rookie while he develops.

Any of these 10 safety prospects make sense for the Dallas Cowboys?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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NFL Draft

2020 RB Options for the Cowboys if Things Turn Ugly With Ezekiel Elliott

Brian Martin

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2020 RB Options for Cowboys if Things Turn Ugly With Ezekiel Elliott

The Dallas Cowboys could have a Le'Veon Bell-type situation on their hands in regards to Ezekiel Elliott. It's been reported Zeke is contemplating a holdout until his financial demands are met by way of a contract extension. This could put the Cowboys between a rock and a hard place.

Ezekiel Elliott is technically still under contract for two more seasons because of the fifth-year option he carries as a former first-round draft pick. Threatening to hold out seems a little premature, but Zeke has the Cowboys by the short hairs right now, meaning the leverage is on his side.

This is a situation that could, unfortunately, turn ugly, and quickly.

Check out Ep. 6 of Cowboys Weekly - Segment 1 for more discussion from Inside The Star on Ezekiel Elliott's Hold-Out situation:

The Cowboys have several other mouths to feed and Zeke may not be at the top the list considering his continued immaturity issues off the field. His on-field production is undeniable, but so are the red flags that keep popping up. It may be time for Dallas to look for his successor and fortunately, the 2020 running back draft class is a pretty good place to start.

Let's take a look…

Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin

Jonathan Taylor

Wisconsin Badgers RB Jonathan Taylor

Jonathan Taylor (5'11", 219) would probably be the ideal candidate to replace Ezekiel Elliott for the Dallas Cowboys. He is one of the more productive collegiate running backs expected to enter the 2020 NFL Draft and has the intangibles that are eerily similar to Zeke as far as size, speed, and power are concerned. Unfortunately, that likely makes him a top 10 selection, putting him out of reach of the Cowboys.

Taylor doesn't come without his warts though. As a true Junior, he's seen a lot of action in his three years as the starting RB for the Badgers. That wear-and-tear is a cause for concern because it could lead to durability issues once in the NFL. He also has struggled with his ball security. He's put the ball on the ground 12 times in the last two seasons, which will need to be cleaned up at the next level. But, there's no denying his talent.

D'Andre Swift, Georgia

D'Andre Swift

Georgia Bulldogs RB D'Andre Swift

D'Andre Swift (5'9", 215) is one of my favorite RB options in the 2020 draft class to replace Ezekiel Elliott if things turn ugly with the Dallas Cowboys. He doesn't have the same kind of production as Jonathan Taylor and is still somewhat under the radar because he's been stuck in a committee with the Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, and Elijah Holyfield the last two years. But mark my words, he will be the next great RB to enter the NFL out of Georgia. Swift could be as ideal of a candidate to replace Zeke as there is.

Dallas likes an inside runner with zone vision as well as someone who can be a threat in the passing game, and D'Andre fits the bill. Despite being a little smaller in size than Zeke, he still possesses the power to run inside. Then throw in his receiving ability, 32 catches for 297 yards and three touchdowns last season, and you have someone who is more than capable of replacing #21's offensive production. He's projected to be a late first-round pick, which could put him within striking distance of the Cowboys.

J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State

J.K. Dobbins

Ohio State Buckeyes RB J.K. Dobbins

J.K. Dobbins (5'10", 214) could be someone who is already on the Dallas Cowboys' radar as a potential Ezekiel Elliott replacement. They seem to have a liking for Ohio State running backs (Zeke, Rod Smith, Mike Weber) and could turn to another Buckeye to carry the rock. Dobbins, an all-purpose back and native Texan (Houston, TX) checks all of the boxes the Cowboys typically look for in their featured back.

Dobbins has the size, speed, and vision to be a featured back in the NFL. He has rushed for over 1,000 yards his last two seasons while splitting time with Mike Weber and has averaged about 200 receiving yards during that time span as well. He's not the most physical back, but he keeps moving his feet upon contact. He also needs to improve in pass protection in order to become a true three-down RB in the NFL. But his vision, shorter area quickness, elusiveness, and patience as a runner are all top-notch.

Travis Etienne, Clemson

Travis Etienna

Clemson Tigers RB Travis Etienna

The breakout season of Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, unfortunately, overshadowed the Heisman-worthy year Travis Etienna (5'10", 200) had in 2018. In his first year as a starter, he rushed for 1,658 yards and 24 touchdowns, all the while averaging an impressive 8.1 yards per carry. If he can follow that up in 2019 he could become the most coveted back in the 2020 draft class and become a really intriguing option for the Dallas Cowboys.

Etienne will probably need to add a little bit more "good weight" and muscle to his frame if he wants to be considered a featured back in the NFL. If he can accomplish that and not lose any of his elusiveness or speed he should climb up draft boards. If not, he may not be of much interest to the Cowboys because they already have a similar RB in Tony Pollard. He does possess plug-and-play talent though, making him a potential Ezekiel Elliott replacement.

Najee Harris, Alabama

Najee Harris

Alabama Crimson Tide RB Najee Harris

Najee Harris (6'2", 230) is yet another big, physical running back who has had to remain patient and wait his turn at Alabama, but 2019 could be his breakout season. With Bo Scarbrough, Josh Jacobs, and Damien Harris ahead of him on the depth chart the last two years, Najee saw limited playing time. But, when he did receive the opportunity to showcase his skill set he didn't disappoint. His physical talent could make him a top-5 running back come draft time.

Despite his limited playing time last the two seasons, he averaged over 6 yards a carry. He rushed for a career-high 783 yards and four touchdowns on just 117 carries in 2018 and should easily surpass those totals this season. In doing so he should become one of the more sought after RBs in the 2020 draft class. With the Cowboys, as Zeke's potential replacement, his physicality would pair nicely with Tony Pollard's slashing style. A Harris/Pollard duo could be just as productive as the Cowboys running game has been in the past.

Honorable Mention

The above five running backs are all potential Ezekiel Elliott replacements who I really like and will likely receive the most national attention due to the programs in which they play. But, they are only a few in what looks like a really strong 2020 RB draft class. Here a few honorable mentions you should also keep a close eye on as well.

  • Cam Akers, Florida State
  • Eno Benjamin, Arizona State
  • Kennedy Brooks, Oklahoma
  • Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Vanderbilt
  • Kylin Hill, Mississippi State

I believe any of these running backs mentioned above at any point in the article could be in play for the Dallas Cowboys if they choose to play hardball with Ezekiel Elliott over his want for a contract extension. The 2020 running back draft class has a plethora of potential starters and this could be in the back of the Cowboys mind when they're determining where they want to spend their money. Paying top dollar for an RB might not fit in their budget, even for one as talented as Zeke.

Do you like any of these potential RBs as replacements for Ezekiel Elliott?



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft: Reviewing Kansas DT Daniel Wise

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Draft: Kansas DT Daniel Wise

Throughout the post draft media process, the Cowboys' decision makers have been adamant that they found multiple draft-able players in undrafted free agency this year. Each of which, of course, will have an opportunity to compete for a roster or practice squad spot this summer.

One of those players who almost certainly had a draft-able grade despite fall through all seven rounds, is Kansas defensive tackle Daniel Wise.

At 6'3" and 290 pounds, Wise projects as a 3-technique in the NFL, and should compete for that very role on the Cowboys defense. Wise is not an overly bendy or athletic player, but he has a good initial quickness which allows him to penetrate gaps well. Wise plays with excellent effort, having the type of motor that I'm sure Rod Marinelli valued highly during the pre-draft evaluations.

A strong and powerful interior presence, Wise can offer some upside as a pass rusher as well. He has quick, active, and heavy hands. When combining his hands with his get-off, Wise is a real threat as a pass rusher. Maybe his most impressive pass rushing quality, however, is the effort which he plays with. Never giving up on a play, you'll have to block Wise until the final whistle or he will threaten for effort sacks.

In college, Wise was often asked to be a two-gap defender from the 5-technique, but that's just not where he'll be at his best. Rather, he should be used in the role the Cowboys likely envision for him, allowing him to play with power at the point of attack and disrupt the running game.

But what are Daniel Wise's chances of even making the team?

The Cowboys made a concerted effort to improve their defensive line this offseason, specifically on the interior. By adding free agents like Kerry Hyder and drafting Trysten Hill 58th overall, Dallas has improved what was considered a weakness during the postseason a year ago.

Not all of these talented defensive tackles will make the team, though, it's simply a numbers a game. And cutting an undrafted free agent will certainly be easier to do than cutting someone who will be owed real money, or was acquired through premium draft capital.

Regardless, Daniel Wise will have the chance to prove his worth during training camp and the preseason. And based on how he projects through his college tape and physical attributes, he'll likely make those final decisions very difficult on the Cowboys' staff.



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NFL Draft

Pre-Draft Visitors Highlight Dallas Cowboys 2019 Rookie Class

Brian Martin

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Pre-Draft Visitors Highlight Dallas Cowboys 2019 Rookie Class

The Dallas Cowboys are "officially" adding 21 rookies to their roster, eight of which they drafted and the remaining 13 are undrafted free agents. The number of rookies the Cowboys are bringing in isn't all that surprising, but what did surprise me was how many of them were pre-draft visitors.

You may or may not know, but the NFL allows 30 allotted pre-draft visits for each team around the league. Teams don't have to use all 30 visits of course, but the majority of them take advantage of the opportunity and generally use up all 30 visits. It's a chance to introduce these rookies into the atmosphere they could be playing in and work them out in more of a one-on-one basis.

The Dallas Cowboys of course are known as a team who take their 30 pre-draft visits very seriously. Over the past several years they've drafted several players who were brought in for pre-draft visits, and 2019 was no exception.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, paying attention to the Dallas Cowboys 30 pre-draft visits is a good idea because the odds of them drafting one or more of them is pretty high. That's why I decided to run a pre-draft tracker this year, and because of it I was able to confirm 27 of the possible 30 pre-draft visitors for the Cowboys.

Here are 2019 pre-draft visitors currently on the Cowboys roster:

  • DT, Trysten Hill
  • RB, Tony Pollard
  • RB, Mike Weber
  • WR, Jon'Vea Johnson
  • CB, Chris Westry

If you're doing the math, 5 out of 30 equates to 17% of the players the Dallas Cowboys brought in as pre-draft visitors. But, if Dallas only brought in 27 that percentage rises to 19%. To say that the Cowboys value these pre-draft visits would be an understatement, at least as far as 2019 is concerned.

The first three of Trysten Hill, Tony Pollard, and Mike Weber were of course all draft picks and have the best chance to stick around on the final 53-man roster, but I wouldn't rule out Jon'Vea Johnson and Chris Westry. Both were draftable players, but somehow fell through the cracks right into the lap of the Cowboys as UFAs.

I don't really know if it's a good idea the Dallas Cowboys are so transparent with how valuable the treat these 30 pre-draft visits. We've seen teams time and time again trade up right in front of them to draft a player the Cowboys could've possibly been eyeing, and this year was no exception.

After drafting Running Back/Wide Receiver Tony Pollard with the first of their fourth-round draft picks, it looked like the Dallas Cowboys had their sights set on small school Defensive End/Defensive Tackle John Cominsky out of Charleston with their second pick in the fourth. Unfortunately, the Atlanta Falcons traded up a spot ahead of them to draft Cominsky.

This of course isn't the first time the Falcons have done this, which begs the question as to how they knew the Cowboys could have possibly been targeting Cominsky. We can throw a conspiracy theory out there that Atlanta might have been inside source, but that's highly unlikely. More plausible theory is they were paying attention to Dallas' 30 pre-draft visitors as well.

It may be time for the Dallas Cowboys to deploy a little more smoke and mirrors when it comes to who they bring in for pre-draft visits in the future. But regardless, there's no denying the Cowboys pre-draft visitors highlight their 2019 rookie class.

Are you surprised the Dallas Cowboys added so many pre-draft visitors to the roster?



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