On Monday, DallasCowboys.com staff writer David Helman wrote about the number 27 in our Countdown to Camp series and he posed the question if rookie safety J.J. Wilcox could in fact buck the trend and become the starter at safety opposite Barry Church? Of the first year players that are battling for a starting spot in this lineup, I do not see any reason why you might bet against him and here is why.
Will Allen is a veteran and will get the first crack at the position and Matt Johnson managed to make it through the camps without suffering any injuries that could set him back heading into work in Oxnard but Wilcox presents an interesting dynamic to this group because he was able to show some traits as a cover man that he didn't in college at Georgia Southern. There were not many times on tape where Wilcox was asked to play in coverage but there were plenty of other opportunities where you did see him come down hill in a hurry and blow the ball carrier up.
I really believed that until the pads came on that Wilcox would not be noticeable but that hasn't been the case at all. There were times in the rookie camp where both Jerome Henderson and Joe Baker were on him about the positioning or the angles that he was taking in coverage but since those first two or three practices, he has been in position to make plays on the ball, he is playing aware and carrying out his assignments. The corrections have been replaced with praise not only by the coaches but his teammates as well. Wilcox looks comfortable in this scheme. He has been making quick reads and has been decisive on the direction he needs to go. He is not playing lost or confused about his responsibilities which have allowed him to just be a football player.
Wilcox and Johnson for that matter have yet to make those mistakes where you see busts in coverage but where Wilcox has shown up better than Allen and Johnson has been his ability to play the ball. In this scheme, you need a safety that can handle the ball going in his direction and he has to have the ability to finish plays when that happens. Wilcox is a violent tackler and you will see that here in a few short weeks. Where Wilcox has really opened my eyes is that he has now shown that he has the ability to make plays on the ball and if he can continue to [embedded_ad] grow on the mental side of the game, there is no question in my mind that the physical side will put him strongly in the mix to win that job over Will Allen and Matt Johnson. Bucking the odds? Maybe but from what I have seen from the player, it wouldn't surprise me at all.