I know half of you Cowboys fans out there are questioning why would TrueBlueNation say that the Dallas Cowboys need to draft a safety in this year’s draft?
We have so many glaring needs on this team like the horrible offensive line and adding depth at the defensive lines position. Why focus on the safety position?
The safeties will play a very important part in Monte Kiffin’s 4-3 defensive scheme.
The safeties in the Dallas 2 system are expected to be above-average cover men with the ability to break up passes, but each safety also are expected to have additional specific skills.
The strong safeties, while not expected to be great tacklers, are expected to be hard hitters. The hard-hitting strong safety protects the middle of the field from being exploited by small, fast receivers, and running backs on wheel route.
The free safety will be called upon to do one of two things in certain situations: either blitz the quarterback, requiring him to have the skills necessary to beat a blocking half back or fullback, or to assume the coverage zone left by a blitzing cornerback.
1. S Eric Reid, LSU (6-1, 212)
STRENGTHS: Tall, long safety with a solid overall build that is still getting stronger. All-around defender who can play the run and pass. Flashes excellent closing speed, pummels receivers after the catch when coming downhill and can get into the backfield if smelling out the play after the snap. Has length and attitude to wrap up ball carriers in the open field. Brings power into cut tackles, lowering his shoulder to stop running backs cold. Also lays the wood over the middle, putting a shoulder into their midsection. Gets physical with receivers attempting to block him in the run game. Has athleticism to handle tight ends in the passing game. Possesses the height, vertical and competitive nature to win jump balls. Good enough hands to take advantage of poor throws, will undercut receivers and can catch the ball away from his frame.
WEAKNESSES: Gets over aggressive at times; will jump on short crossers, opening up the back half of the field, and overrun stretch plays to allow cutback lanes. Not a consistently powerful tackler, and will lunge and miss in the open field as he often fails to break down quickly. Recovery speed will be questioned, might be tough for him to catch NFL receivers if he takes a false step or in the aid of a teammate. Had shoulder surgery after his junior season in high school, though it hasn’t hurt him in college.
NFL COMPARISON: Mark Barron
2. S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas (6-0, 210)
Strengths: Has the ability to drop down and cover in the slot. Played some nickel back in college. Fluid hips and good change of direction ability. Has the size you want out of your safety. Can play either safety position. A good tackler in the open field. Is a good at blitzing and shows aggressiveness in the run game. Shows athletic ability to cover half the field in a cover 2 scheme. Has good vision and instincts in coverage.
Weaknesses: Can be overly aggressive when running towards the line of scrimmage and get himself out of position. Will bite on play action. Must wrap up better, will duck his head and leave cutback lanes. Plays at one speed, doesn’t have a 2nd gear he can turn on. Only had 5 interceptions in his career at Texas.
NFL COMPARISON: Morgan Burnett
3. S Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International (6-1, 210)
STRENGTHS: Cyprien certainly looks and plays like a Strong Safety with solid thickness throughout his build. He has an aggressive playing style and likes to meet the ballcarrier with a pop and refuses to let up. Jonathan has enough speed and athleticism to cover ground as a zone defender in the back half and line up against slot receivers inside. He beats receiver blocks with quickness or strength. Cyprien can be used as a blitzer on run or pass plays and is capable of overpower Running Back blocks. He has consistently played well against so-called “top” competition over his career, enjoying standout performances in past years against the likes of Texas A&M, Rutgers, Maryland and Louisville, among others.
WEAKNESSES: Some are concerned about Cyprien’s straight-line speed. He doesn’t have elite range or the height/length combination to play as a single-deep safety and played a lot of two-deep coverage at FIU. Not a true center fielder, more of a big hitter who takes aggressive angles to the ball and consistently tackles ball carriers high. Jonathan is quick enough to make a hit after the catch when deep, but is often a step slow in pass recognition coming into his area. His aggressiveness in coverage means he can bite on play action, but also means he will jump underneath routes. He could be better in changing directions and does not recover like a corner if beaten by a quick move off the line or in space.
NFL COMPARISON: Jordan Babineaux
4. S Matt Elam, Florida (5’10, 207)
STRENGTHS: Plays close to the line of scrimmage or in the box very often. At his best when asked to make a play, either blitzing or one on one on the edge. Frequently assigned to cover the slot receiver. There are times when he flashes tremendous disruption when the play is developing in front of him.
WEAKNESSES: Would rather drift laterally against the run rather than plant his outside foot, free outside arm, and force run up field immediately. For how many hard-hitting splash plays he makes, he could be much more aggressive every down. Little urgency to his game. Seen standing around far too often.
NFL COMPARISON: Quintin Mikell
Other safeties to keep an eye out for in this year’s draft.
- S Bacarri Rambo, Georgia (6-1, 211)
- S T.J. McDonald, USC (6-3, 219)