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Mailbag: 'Greatness' For Xavier Woods?


I am a HUGE fan of Xavier Woods. At times last season, he looked like a great safety. "Elite" is another category, but if Woods ends the year with 3 or 4 picks, 10-15 PBUs and say 50+ tackles ... AND his presence is noticeable enough to where opposing QBs are trying to avoid him, would you consider him a great safety? Of course he'd need to stack together a couple of years, but would that type of statistical year be a good starting point towards greatness? - COLLIN CLARK / TRENTON, TX

Bryan: We throw the word "great" around entirely too much. I am as guilty as the next guy in the way I write. I've seen a lot of promise with Woods play not only last season but what I have evaluated in camp so far. What's been so impressive about him has been the speed in which he has played. His reactions and awareness have been impressive as well. Does this make him great? It gives him a chance to be better than he was last season. That I do know.

Rob: Takeaways are the next step for Woods and really the entire defense. He has shown excellent anticipation in these practices. DBs coach Kris Richard said Thursday that Woods has a "hyper-intelligence," almost like he's a coach on the field. This is only his second year as a starter. He should only get better, however you want to categorize it.

Looking back on the past few years it's amazing how well the Cowboys have been at acquiring talent through the draft. It's frustrating as fan to see some of these players come in as rookies and watch them develop into stars only to not be able to re-sign them (I can only imagine how frustrating it is for the front office). I understand the purpose of the salary cap, but I wonder if there would ever be an appetite for the NFL to give a reduction to the cap hit of a player a team drafted and wanted to retain as way to reward good drafting and help keep homegrown talent? Probably wishful thinking but would love to hear your thoughts.RAY / HOUSTON, TX

Bryan: There is no chance for any of those salary cap adjustments. It's a good problem to have drafting well, but losing players is now part of the game. The teams that are comfortable playing the game this way through drafting/signing your own are the ones that will always survive. Not changing coaches each year helps you with this.

Rob: The NBA allows teams to offer their own free agents more money and years, a provision primarily to help smaller markets. I doubt the NFL would ever go that route, but I understand the question. With the hard cap, the system forces teams to pick and choose which players to keep. The Cowboys have a "distribution dilemma," as Stephen Jones says. They'll be able to re-sign Dak, Zeke and Amari. The question is how many other starters with expiring deals in the future they'll be able to afford. It's why you absolutely have to keep drafting well.

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