The Dallas Cowboys could still be in the market for a safety. The team lost their starting safety in Damonte Kazee, and they lost Keanu Neal, a linebacker who used to play safety. They could arguably be in the market to replace both.
The team has Jayron Kearse as a starter across from Donovan Wilson, who missed time and was inconsistent last season. Malik Hooker is a former first-round pick but has never played to that billing, and injuries have been a big issue for him as well.
Considering that is the extent of the depth that the Cowboys have it is easy to see them acquiring a safety at some point, whether it be in the 2022 NFL Draft or in free agency. Who are three names that the team will want to keep an eye on.
3. Nick Cross, S, Maryland
Jayron Kearse is their consistent starter, and he often will play as the strong safety in the box. That means that the team will be relying on a more traditional center field type of safety to compliment him. One name that fits that description in the 2022 NFL Draft is Nick Cross.
Cross was the free safety for Maryland and started 21 games over three years. One of the most notable features of Cross is that he is still 20 years old, and will be 21 as a rookie. To combine the starting experience since he was a true freshman with him entering the NFL early and you have more upside than most other safeties in this class.
He tested out to an above-average athlete, and his change of direction skills show as he moves about the center-field spot. Cross is still working on his instincts and can often rely too much on his physical attributes. Still, that is what you would get from a 20-year-old. That should have him drop into the round three range, which would make him an intriguing pick for Dallas.
2. Deshon Elliott, S, Baltimore Ravens
While most of the bigger names in free agency have started to disappear, one name that the Cowboys could look to if they do not want to draft a safety is Deshone Elliott. Elliott is from Texas and grew up in Dallas, so this could be a perfect homecoming.
Elliott was drafted by the Ravens and while he sat for a bit behind his fellow Texas alum Earl Thomas, Elliott stepped in when Thomas was released, and he did not leave the starting lineup since. Unfortunately, the only thing that could hold back Elliott was a torn pec in Week 9 that has him still recovering from surgery.
That is likely why he has not signed yet. Still, the hometown kid being available and the Cowboys still needing a safety could tell you one thing. It could mean that the Cowboys are waiting for Elliott to be healthy enough to pass a physical, and that Elliott knows his team is waiting for him. If they could sign a trusted free safety and nail that spot down without going to the draft it could be ideal.
1. Kerby Joseph, S, Illinois
The best fit for the Cowboys would be a free safety. Kerby Joseph may be the best fit for what Dan Quinn wants out of his free safeties. Quinn wants range and the ability to try to shut down both sidelines. It is hard to find that type of range, but if anyone on the 2022 NFL Draft has it, it would be Joseph.
Joseph did not start for Illinois until this year, but when he did he hauled in five interceptions, as teams kept tempting him and he kept burning them. There are questions about why Joseph was just a one-year starter, and some of that can be answered by his instincts.
Still, when you combine his length, his explosion, and his ball skills, it is hard not to get excited about what he could potentially bring to the Cowboys’ defense. He is a great fit for the Quinn scheme and would compliment Jayron Kearse even better. Most mock drafts have him going in the round three range, which gives the Cowboys time to address other needs before finding another key starter in the 2022 NFL Draft.