DALLAS — One smart pick the Dallas Cowboys can make at No. 17 overall in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft is to take LSU safety Grant Delpit. And why not? Delpit is a two-time All-American who bagged the 2019 Jim Thorpe Award, which is given to the nation's top defensive back.
No more counting on Jeff Heath, waiting for Xavier Woods to develop further, or allowing Donovan Wilson to get healthy — the Cowboys can fix safety by drafting Delpit.
Walter Football thinks they will. Pro Football Focus thinks they will. Dane Brugler thinks they will. USA TODAY thinks they will. CBS Sports thinks they will. See for yourself the cavalcade of experts who believe the 6-3, 203-pound safety will go to Dallas when Mike McCarthy's new squad is on the clock.
However, history tends to suggest that the Cowboys won't. Since 2000, the Cowboys have taken one safety in the first round: Roy Williams in 2002. One could argue that they took another in Byron Jones in the 2015 NFL Draft, but the former UConn Husky hybrid played cornerback in his final two years and has proven to be a better cornerback as a pro than a safety.
Dallas has been rummaging through the clearance shelf for safety help for 20 years. Their last four safeties taken in the draft (Wilson, 2019; Woods, 2017; Kavon Frazier, 2016; Ahmad Dixon, 2014) have all come in the sixth round or later. Look at the safeties from the 2019 team alone. Heath was an undrafted free agent from 2013, Woods a sixth-rounder, Frazier a sixth-rounder, Wilson a sixth-rounder, and Darian Thompson a free agent signing from 2018.
The way the club attempted to address safety in the 2019 offseason was by bringing in veteran George Iloka, who they cut after preseason. Despite the lack of talent infused at the position, safety just remains a low priority in Dallas.
Look at what happened near the trade deadline of 2019. The Cowboys had a shot to acquire New York Jets safety Jamal Adams – who would go on to be named first-team All-Pro. They would have had to give up a king's ransom for Adams, but he would have instantly fixed their problems on the back end.
And then, who knows? Maybe Jason Garrett is still the coach of the Cowboys instead of the offensive coordinator of a franchise that hasn't won a playoff game since Feb. 2012 — and the starting QB who did it is now retired. Instead, Dallas folded.
There is a small chance the strategy changes under McCarthy. It is worth mentioning that the Green Bay Packers did select Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, and Clinton-Dix lived up to his status with a Pro Bowl selection in 2016. However, that is the only one. Green Bay selected a safety in Damarious Randall in 2015, but they had him playing cornerback throughout his tenure with the Packers.
However, if McCarthy defers to vice president of player personnel Will McClay and chief operating officer Stephen Jones, then the Cowboys will pass on Delpit and look for cheaper ways to fix the safety position — one that has lacked playmaking talent since Williams broke up with Kelly Rowland.
Do you think the Cowboys should bite the bullet and finally address the safety position in the NFL Draft? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.
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