FRISCO, Texas – With so many questions to answers, this series will take a look at each position on the roster, and what choices might face the front office heading into 2021.
We'll continue at the safety position, a spot that hasn't been truly solidified in decades.
Today, let's focus on the play of Donovan Wilson, who entered the starting lineup later in the season and proved to be the Cowboys' best playmaker in the secondary.
Ready To Build Around Donovan Wilson?
The level of growth for Donovan Wilson seemed to take several steps throughout the course of the season, from training camp to the very last game.
He began the 2020 season as a borderline-roster hopeful that was looking to impress this new coaching staff and perhaps find a role on special teams to stay on the 53-man roster.
Then, Wilson took advantage of added playing time because of an injury to Darian Thompson, and before you know it, Wilson was a regular starter in the secondary.
And better than that, Wilson took it a step further, becoming arguably the best playmaker on the defense.
In a game against the Vikings in late November, Wilson set the tone early with a sack and forced fumble on the Cowboys' first defensive series.
Later in the half, he blasted running back Dalvin Cook, forcing a fumble and a recovery that led to a field goal in an eventual victory.
Wilson finished the season with two interceptions and three sacks.
Adding in his 71 tackles, Wilson became just the third safety in Cowboys history – joining Bill Bates and Darren Woodson – to record three sacks, two interceptions and over 70 tackles in a season.
It was enough for ProFootballFocus to rank Wilson as the 18th best safety overall in 2020.
And to think, Wilson only started 10 games and even missed two games later in the seaosn.
So all of this begs the question if Wilson, a sixth-round pick from Texas A&M who has only 25 games and 10 starts under his belt, is ready to become one of the locked-in starters at safety.
The answer has to be, if not Wilson, then who?
The Cowboys will probably let Xavier Woods test the free-agent waters. Even if he ends up re-signing with the Cowboys, his starting job would likely be up for grabs.
Unlike Wilson, Woods didn't come up with any turnovers last season and it's seem obvious the Cowboys will be looking for an upgrade at that position.
But someone to play alongside Wilson, who just seems to find the football. That even happened as a rookie in 2019 when he had three interceptions in the preseason games.
Wilson still might have some growing pains ahead of him, especially as he continues to learn coverages and figure out his role in the pass defense.
But his ball-instincts are natural and his hitting ability is tone-setting.
That alone is reason to think Wilson is one of the key components to the Cowboys' defense in 2021.