*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 J.J. Wilcox.)*
Name: J.J. Wilcox
Height/Weight: 6-0 / 212
Experience: 3 seasons
College: Georgia Southern
Key stat:After being involved in six takeaways during the 2014 season, including three interceptions, Wilcox had just one turnover in 2015 – a Week 2 interception against the Eagles.
Contract Status:Signed through 2016.
2015 Impact: Wilcox is one of the most passionate players on the squad when it comes to playing the game. In talking with scouts and coaches, the thought coming into the season was that he would need to improve in his ability to take coaching better. He is so serious and sensitive to criticism that it affected the way he played, and they were hoping that he could improve on that. Wilcox started the first six weeks of the season and then was replaced in the lineup by Byron Jones. He has one big issue and it is his ability to play under control. There is not a player in this secondary that is as physical as he when it comes to tackling. In scouting terms I would say that his ability to strike the ball carrier is rare, but the problem is how arrives to that point. Wilcox tends to be sloppy and out of control, which puts him in bad positions. When he does take good angles and gets into tackling position, he can finish. I also felt like he took a step back in regard to playing with instincts. There were snaps in his career where he was in position to handle the deep ball, and he was able to make those types of plays -- but in 2015, I didn't feel like that was the case. There is no question that the coaching staff made the switch to Jones in order to give them more consistency at the position, because they were struggling with Wilcox in that spot.
Where He Fits: I feel like we are at the end of the line with Wilcox as the starter at safety. Byron Jones is likely to take his spot full-time and Barry Church should remain as the down safety that Rod Marinelli likes to work with. There is the possibility of adding a safety to the squad through free agency or the draft, and that would surly put a dent in Wilcox's bid to return. The organization gambled that Wilcox -- a converted running back at Georgia Southern -- would develop, but now those thoughts appear to be remote and changes are likely ahead. J.J. Wilcox is going to have a battle on his hands to hold on to his roster spot.
Nick Eatman: After three years, the Cowboys obviously wanted to see more development from Wilcox, who had only played one season at safety in college. But drafting him in the third round suggested they fully expected him to make the transition and so far, it hasn't happened. He's a physical player who can make big hits, but he seems to have trouble with angles and techniques. To me, it seems like he lost his confidence at times last year, which is understandable when a rookie comes in and plays more of a role. I would see Wilcox returning this year and competing for a starting job but it seems more likely that will be a contributor on nickel/dime and special teams.