Football analyst Bucky Brooks, a former NFL player and scout, will break down all of the Cowboys' free-agent veteran signings of the offseason. Today, he'll continue with the assessment of safety Damontae Kazee
- Name: Damontae Kazee
- Position: Free Safety
- College: San Diego State
- Height: 5-11
- Weight: 190
- Season: 5th
- Games Studied: Falcons vs. Cowboys 2020, Bears 2020, Panthers 2019, Eagles 2019, and Rams 2019
Overview: The former college corner turned safety has become one of the best centerfielder safeties in football. Although an injury prematurely ended his 2020 campaign, Kazee's combination of instincts, awareness, range, and ball skills enables him to thrive as a ball hawk in the middle of the field. With the veteran expected to return to health following his torn Achilles, the Cowboys acquired a potential impact player to occupy the deep middle position in Dan Quinn's hybrid Cover 3 defense.
As a pass defender, Kazee is an instinctive ball hawk with a knack for picking off tipped or overthrown balls. The converted corner has 10 interceptions in 34 NFL games after registering 17 interceptions as a three-year starter at San Diego State, including 15 picks over his final two seasons. The savvy playmaker displays exceptional anticipation, timing, and awareness keying the quarterback as a deep middle defender, and his impressive resume as a ball hawk at the collegiate and NFL level is a testament to his high football IQ. Kazee's outstanding instincts enable him to play a step quicker than others on the field and his aggressiveness to the ball routinely results in turnovers (interceptions and forced fumbles) in the back end. As the ornament on the Xmas tree in a single-high safety scheme, the veteran capable covers protects the seams while displaying numbers-to-numbers range over the top. Kazee is a true centerfielder and his game perfectly matches the single-high safety schemes that he has played in. Despite some concerns about his ability to match up with receivers in man-to-man due to his speed and athleticism, Kazee's cornerback experience should enable him to shadow tight ends and running backs without issue.
As a run defender, Kazee is an effective tackler in space. He quickly closes ground to corral runners with strong wrap-up tackles. The veteran safety is a reliable support player in the run game and his dependability is more important than his thumping skills.
Overall, Kazee is a solid starter with the potential to play at a borderline blue-chip level in a scheme that plays to his strengths. As a natural ball hawk with outstanding instincts, awareness, and ball skills, he is a turnover machine and that gives him a chance to play at an all-star level in Dallas.
- Ball Skills
- Instincts, awareness, and diagnostic skills
- Playmaking ability
How does he fit in with the Cowboys? Kazee is a ball-hawking centerfielder with the instincts, awareness, and diagnostic skills to shine as the deep middle defender in a single-high safety scheme. With the Cowboys, the veteran safety is the perfect playmaker to play as the ornament atop the Xmas tree in Dan Quinn's Cover 3 scheme. Kazee's aggressive pursuit of the ball and his track record for producing takeaways will upgrade a secondary that's failed to deliver many game-changing plays in recent years.