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Draft Central | 2021

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Could 2021 Buck The Cowboys' Safety Trend?


FRISCO, Texas – This should all sound familiar by now.

The Dallas Cowboys are about a week away from another edition of the NFL draft, and it prompts questions about their strategies and preferences – more specifically, how they plan to address their safety situation.

It's become a trope at this point. Things change quickly in the NFL, but the Cowboys' rotating door of small investments at safety has been a hallmark of their roster. The team hasn't spent a first-round draft pick at the position since Roy Williams in 2002, and their highest pick in the time since was J.J. Wilcox – drafted 80th overall, all the way back in 2013.

This year's cast of competitors for the job might be the strongest in recent memory, as the front office signed the veteran trio of Keanu Neal, Damontae Kazee and Jayron Kearse to work with 2019 draft pick Donovan Wilson.

Even still, a quick look at the numbers will confirm the same basic strategies. The combined guarantees given to Neal, Kazee and Kearse amount to about $3.5 million, and Wilson – while promising – was a sixth-round pick.

Speaking Monday on 105.3 FM The Fan on Monday, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones acknowledged the team's inability to address the position long-term – though he added it hasn't been for a lack of effort.

"There's some method there – but at the same time, we've made some pretty strong attempts to change that," Jones said.. "I guess I can talk about Earl Thomas, he's not in the league right now. Certainly, when he was younger, it was documented we made some runs at him. And then other veteran safeties that are really highly thought of, we've made runs at."

The Cowboys' pursuit of Thomas has also become a trope at this point. Thomas made shockwaves around the NFL in 2017 when he famously approached former head coach Jason Garrett after a regular season game between the Cowboys and Seahawks. From there, the Cowboys reportedly made multiple attempts to pry the disgruntled All-Pro out of Seattle, but to no avail.

Ironically, there were also several reports that the Cowboys attempted to trade for fellow All-Pro safety Jamal Adams – who the New York Jets eventually dealt to Seattle last summer.

As for the draft, Jones pointed out the opportunities have been there, the Cowboys just haven't pounced on them.

"We've been right there and had safeties in the mix – only to take another position," he said. "It's been right there, it's just hasn't worked out that we've done it. So we're not just saying 'Absolutely not, we're not going to pay a safety or take a safety.' It's just unfortunately been the way it's worked out."

It's unlikely the Cowboys will break the first-round streak in 2021. Where they're currently positioned, with the No. 10 overall pick, there isn't a safety prospect that fits the value of the selection.

But there will be other opportunities. Perhaps a draft-day trade could put them in position to select TCU's Trevon Moehrig, or perhaps they'll have a shot at Oregon's Jevon Holland or UCF's Richie Grant later on.

Regardless of the details, Jones said if the right opportunity is there, the Cowboys won't hesitate.

"If the right guy presents itself, we're going to be ready to jump," he said.


Come out to Dallas Cowboys Draft Day presented by Miller Lite outside at The Star in Frisco on Thursday, April 29th at 6 p.m. Free draft activities include live music, Round One of NFL Draft coverage, performances by the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, a cornhole tournament and more! Visit for more information.

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