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High Low

High Low: Odds of Dallas picking safety in NFL Draft


FRISCO, Texas — It's one position that the Dallas Cowboys can actually feel pretty confident about, given how it's currently constructed, and that is at safety. They have, to this point, opted to not re-sign Jayron Kearse but that doesn't change how well off they are in the group, however, and especially if you safely assume the likely move to put Markquese Bell back at his home position.

And then there's Juanyeh Thomas, who showed stellar progress in his second year, the entire group being led by former first-round pick Malik Hooker and impact playmaker Donovan Wilson.

So, should they give any thought at all toward possibly grabbing another in the 2024 NFL Draft?

The brand-new series "High Low" dives into it, with each edition to follow focusing on a different position group leading up to draft week.

Odds: Extremely low

Malik Hooker: Having landed a contract extension last July, the former first-round pick is sticking around in Dallas. That provides them a terrific anchor at the position that provides not only high-level talent, but also top-shelf leadership for a group that is getting younger heading into 2024. The stabilizing force at the defensive third level, Hooker is exactly what Dallas needs him to be at a position with some changes afoot.

Donovan Wilson: Like Hooker, Wilson also landed a contract extension recently but, unlike his elder statesman, he is drafted and developed talent in Dallas that began as a sixth-round pick before ascending the ranks to being one of the best and hardest-hitting safeties in the NFL. Wilson is a heat-seeking missile and he looks back to form after having missed all of last year's training camp due to a calf strain that slowed him over the first half of the season. He enters 2024 as the other stabilizing force in the backfield.

Markquese Bell: Talk about being thrown into the fire, because that's exactly what happened to Bell in 2023. Having spent his rookie season on the Cowboys' practice squad at his base position, safety, the former FAMU standout was moved to linebacker in the wake of DeMarvion Overshown tearing his ACL in the preseason. Bell did well in the short-term, but his lack of mass cost him later on, and you can bet Mike Zimmer will put him back where he belongs — at safety.

Juanyeh Thomas: Whenever given the chance, Thomas impressed as a second-year player who, like Bell, also spent his rookie season proving himself on the team's practice squad. He'd get his shot time and again in 2023, however, especially as the understudy to Jayron Kearse who'd step in and impact games whenever Kearse was sidelined with injury; and sometimes even when the veteran wasn't. Expect a hefty upgrade in snap count for the former Yellow Jacket.

Israel Mukuamu: This is where things get interesting in the safety group. Mukuamu continues to be looked upon as depth who can, in a pinch, also provide reps at nickel corner (see versus Tampa Bay for evidence), but he's also not been consistently thrust into the spotlight to determine if he can consistently deliver. And considering he's entering a contract year in 2024, it is quite literally now or never for the flexible defensive back.

Sheldrick Redwine: Redwine knows a little something about fighting for a turn, considering he's been doing so since joining the team in 2022. He was signed to a futures deal in January because the Cowboys like his potential as a depth piece/insurance, but he'll get plenty of chances to show he's more than that when training camp rolls around.

In looking at the safety position in Dallas, it's a terrific balance of talent, youth and veteran IQ/leadership, and that's why I don't believe they should be pressed to use a draft pick at the position, or at least not a premium one.

It's a spot best addressed late on Day 3 or in undrafted free agency.

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