*Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players' impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2016 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features safety Barry Church.)*
Name: Barry Church
Experience: 6 seasons
Key stat:Since returning from a torn Achilles in 2013, Church has been the Cowboys' top tackler. He has recorded a total of 339 tackles in the past three seasons. This past season was the first time he didn't lead the defense in tackles, as that honor went to Sean Lee.
Contract Status:Signed through 2016.
2015 Impact: Barry Church is one of the most positive players that you will ever be around. He has always been very coachable and wanting to improve his game. This year he was trying to become more of a leader and was continuing to grow in the role. Is consistent more times than not as a tackler. There are games which he is very good at it, then others he struggles with it. I thought overall he tackled better two seasons ago -- didn't seem to have as many on the missed side. The strength of his game is as a down player. When he can play around the line, he tends to fit better. His reads and reactions are what helps him in this area. He is a good underneath defender. He has the quickness to break on the ball, then deliver a big shot to the ball carrier. In previous season has more involved in coverage on the tight end, but Byron Jones took over more of that role this year. There were some games where he did switch off with Jones and his size and physical power made him a good match up. He is never going to have great speed and you can see that when he is asked to play deep. There are snaps where he struggles to turn and run to cover ground. He has always been a much better player when he has the game in front of him. This past year was another season where he didn't create as many turnovers as we had seen in the past.
Where He Fits: He's at his best when he can play as a box player. He will be a strong, physical tackler that is limited in what he can really do in coverage unless he is dealing with the tight end. His lack of true foot speed makes him a bit of a liability, but his toughness makes up for a great deal of his faults. I like what they were able to do in pairing him with Byron Jones -- which took him out of some potentially bad situations coverage-wise. As long as they understand his limitations, they can work around them and he can be productive. It has been proven that you can win with guys like Barry Church in your lineup.
David Helman: Based on the feedback I got throughout the season, a lot of the people reading this are going to tell me that Barry Church is a waste of a roster spot and needs to be cut. I'm not saying he's a Pro Bowler, but that's certainly flawed logic. Bryan laid out the X's and O's above, and I agree with them. Church is a solid, dependable safety who has obvious limitations – particularly in pass coverage. I don't think that makes him a bad player, it just highlights the difficulty of being a truly elite safety in the modern, pass-happy NFL. There are much more athletic safeties out there who can better handle those duties, and that's why I'm intrigued by the idea of letting Byron Jones play free safety in 2016 – or potentially drafting Jalen Ramsey to help in that regard. I want Barry Church closer to the line, mopping up in the run game and helping to deal with the short stuff. That's where he excels. On top of that, he's a team leader and one of the most-liked, most-respected guys on this roster. It's probably not a good sign if Barry Church is the best player in your secondary – which has been the case for a few years here. But he's certainly a valuable piece of a team that has proven it can attain playoff success.