The upcoming party at the end of the 2020 season for Donovan Wilson was one of the best things to get out of the 2020 season. For a defense that at times showed questionable effort and lacked revenue, a midfielder who had two interceptions, three forced fumbles and three quarterback hits was a breath of fresh air for Cowboys fans.
But now it’s 2021. Wilson is currently not practicing due to a minor injury, Xavier Woods is in Minnesota after leaving in free agency, and the Cowboys starting safety drills on their way into training camp are Damontae Kazee (who is still working back from a broken Achilles) and Jayron Kearse. While it’s important to know that it’s still June, it’s also important to know that this organization has been failing for over a decade when looking for an influential player in the security position. Even though Wilson is showing some signs of life at the end of the 2020 season, we still have to note that his play in coverage leaves something to be desired.
While Wilson is known for being your more traditional boxing safety, he actually sometimes played free safety last year. With his versatility and hopeful leaps as a cover-man, Wilson will likely serve one of the starting safety roles on defense, preferably the strong one. That leaves the free safety spot that Damontae Kazee should be if his Achilles allows it. While Kazee has practiced in minicamp and OTA, Achilles injuries are one of the harder injuries to fully recover from.
The wildcard here is ultimately Keanu Neal. Neal signed with the Cowboys in free agency on a one-year, four million dollar deal back in March. Neal, who has played some high-level football with strong confidence for the Falcons throughout his career, has played linebacker in the early stages of OTA’s and minicamp. While that could be where he ends up playing, it’s not hard to imagine that if things go badly in safety, that Dan Quinn at least will not try the former Pro Bowl security on the position he was drafted to play in Quinn’s plan back in 2016. Neal struggled with injuries in 2018 and 2019, but jumped back with a relatively healthy 2020 year, starting 14 games for the Falcons.
If cowboys were created in safety, the idea of Neal having to play fullback full-time would make a lot more sense, but with the safety depth card currently resembling Donovan Wilson, Damontae Kazee, Jayron Kearse, Darian Thompson and Israel Mukuamu, getting Neal reps in safety would probably be a wise choice for a team that possesses one of the worst safety groups in the National Football League.