With Monte Kiffin coming in with his Cover 2 Defense, the Cowboys will need to bring in some Safeties to execute the system efficiently. Safeties will be required to cover their half of the field. I do not think that the Cowboys can do this at a high rate unless they have more consistent play from their corners and stronger coverage skills. Tampa 2 makes your safeties play fast, quick and smart. All signs point to them taking a Safety at some point during the draft. Tampa 2 or not, the Cowboys defense is still in search for the next Safety to anchor our pass Defense that ranked 25th in pass deflections and 15 in takeaways last year. Here are some of the prospects available.
Kenny Vaccaro (SS)- Kenny Vaccaro has made quite the name for himself in Austin. His knack for making plays all over the field and display of athleticism and tackling ability has him ranked as the number one Safety in the draft. He is also versatile as he was used as a nickel corner in Texas’ defense and looked good doing it. He has natural skills and possesses smooth hips that allowed him to be a huge threat in the passing game. His footwork and quickness will have to improve if he wants to be a star at the next level.
Johnathan Cyprien (FS)- The Florida International stand out whose tackling skills got the notice of several NFL scouts. He is athletic and possesses nice closing speed. He plays with energy and intensity and smarts. His read and react skills will be tested as he steps into a world of elite talent. How discipline will he be and is he fast enough to keep up with NFL receivers?
Eric Reid (FS)- Athleticism is off the charts. Uses his hands well and catches the ball away from his body. He can play the run and the pass with great effectiveness. Gets Lazy when tackling sometimes, but has the ability to wrap you up and bring the hammer. He has lowered the boom on many players who invade his territory. He plays with passion and aggression like most great safeties but sometimes make the wrong decision. He has great closing speed and makes an impact on both sides of the line of scrimmage. He plays with a toughness that you want on your Defense. A play maker who gets to the ball with bad intentions.
JJ Wilcox (FS)- FCS player out of Georgia Southern. Played running back for his first three seasons and then made the move to Safety. Was the best Safety on the South roster at the Senior Bowl. AS a former Running back, he plays physical. Still a raw prospect, but absorbs information quickly and understands the game.
Matt Elam (FS)- Elam can lead a team and motivate the players around him to elevate their game. He is a play-maker who plays with a chip on his shoulder at all times. He is adequate in coverage and looks to punish as many ball carriers as he can both in the backfield and beyond the line of scrimmage. The Florida Safety worries me though, not because of his size. The way he plays is a concern. He is explosive and one of the hardest hitters in the Draft but at times he seems more concerned about making highlights than making plays. Fundamental football could not only save a touchdown but extra wear and tear on his body. And in the era where big hits are being banned and players getting suspended and fined, you have to consider the impact his play will have at the next level. DJ Swearinger fits the same mold though he makes more plays in the air. In fact, Swearinger lined up at Corner for the gamecocks on several occasions. His versatility and cover skills could come in handy against up tempo teams and/or flex tight ends.
Phillip Thomas (SS)- Needs to impress at Combine. Injured in 2011 but is an intriguing prospect due to his athleticism, physicality and ball hawking skills. Needs to get stronger and play with more control when reading plays. On screens and even when backs start coming his way, Thomas can sometimes turn into a photographer- Taking pictures and waiting for it to develop. He needs to do a better job of closing in and making the play.
Bacarri Rambo (SS)- It doesn’t matter where this kid is ranked or what the experts say he can’t do. He is one of those guys where the football always seem to find him. He does a good job of reading the play and chasing down ball carriers. He is a play-maker who shows up each game and makes a difference. He has ball skills and is willing to help out in run Defense. He has the strength and agility to tackle Tight ends and the speed to cover receivers down field. Off the field issues with drugs could deter teams from pulling the trigger on him. Needs to surround himself with the right people to avoid situations that could hurt his football career.
Safeties like Tony Jefferson and Josh Evans could also catch the eye of some teams, including Kiffin and the Cowboys.