Roster Rundown: Tackles & Takeaways Highlight Wilcox's High-Level Production

*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 2015 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features safety J.J. Wilcox.)*

Name: J.J. Wilcox
Position: Safety
Height/Weight: 6-0 / 210
Experience: 2 seasons
College: Georgia Southern

Key stat:Wilcox not only led all defensive backs with three interceptions, but by recovering two fumbles, he tied Bruce Carter for the team-lead with five takeaways in 2014.

Contract Status:Signed through 2017.

2014 Impact: I don't know if there is a player on this roster that I enjoy watching play more than J.J. Wilcox, but at the same time I find myself cringing while he is doing it. I don't want to call him an inconsistent player because I feel like that there are more positive traits to his game than negative ones. For a player that had not had many experiences playing the position before he was drafted, Wilcox has made some nice improvements. There are still some areas where he needs to pick up his game, but those are fixable areas. I respect how he always finds himself around the ball or in the pile for a tackle. His aggressiveness is his best trait but also at times his biggest curse. I have been critical of his play in regard to playing with his eyes. When he gets in trouble it is when he doesn't see the play develop or he sees it too late and it affects his ability to get himself in position to make the play. When you study him on tape, you can tell when he sees the play well -- especially in pass coverage -- because of the position he is in. For a guy trying to learn the position like Wilcox currently is, this is the most difficult area to understand due to all the things he has to process at a split second because of the routes. I feel another area where Wilcox needs to show improvement is not only with his angles to the ball, but playing under control when he gets there. There were one or two times a game where, if he just gathered himself better, he could have made the play. Coaches don't want to take away his aggressiveness, but coaching him to be mindful of how he arrives would eliminate those missed tackles in space.

Where He Fits: I have nothing respect for J.J. Wilcox and his approach to his job each week. Next to Dez Bryant there might not be a more emotional or passionate player than him. You can tell that these games are important to him, and he is not afraid of letting anyone that comes near him know how he feels. Wilcox was a full-time starter in 2014 and will once again go into the season with that job opposite Barry Church. He was used as a single high safety with Church being the guy down in the box to help against the run. I would like to continue to see him grow in the way he processes information, because there is no question that his reactions are there once he sees it. He made some nice strides in his overall game, but how he continues to develop as a cover man will be what separates him from being just good or great.   

Writers' Analysis

Nick Eatman: For all the strides Wilcox made last season, his lasting memory of the 2014 season will be the play he didn't make in the open field against the Packers, allowing a momentum-swinging touchdown by Davante Adams. Wilcox did have a productive year from the safety position, finishing fourth on the team with 89 tackles. He led all defensive backs with three interceptions and came up with some key fumble recoveries, as well. The Cowboys are in a tricky spot with Wilcox because he has improved and you'd like to think his production will continue to increase. But if an option to upgrade the position becomes available, such as the first couple of rounds in draft, the Cowboys must ask the question if Wilcox is good enough to pass on a potential upgrade. My gut says you don't pass up on the chance to get a player who could be better. But then again, that's a stance the Cowboys should have on just about all players.  

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