Dallas Cowboys 2011 Mock Draft: Breaking Down The Safeties

Derek MajorCorrespondent IFebruary 23, 2011

Dallas Cowboys 2011 Mock Draft: Breaking Down The Safeties

0 of 7

    It's been two weeks since we looked at the Cowboys draft plans, but we're back and we're taking a look at the safeties. The Cowboys safeties were a big part of why the the secondary was bad. Alan Ball didn't prove doubters wrong about him being able to be an effective starter. Gerald Sensabaugh led the Cowboys in interceptions with five, but he also had a rough season.

    Backups Danny McCray and Barry Church had flashes of good play, especially on special teams, but for the most part didn't play much with the base defense. The Cowboys also signed Andrew Sandejo late in the season although he never played, but he is still on the roster and is expected to start training camp with the team.

    So here are the top five safeties in the draft and how they can be useful the the Cowboys.  

DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson Tigers

1 of 7

    Strengths

    DeAndre McDaniel is one of the dominant safeties in the nation. He has the size (6'1, 215), is physical and experienced as he's started since his freshman year at Clemson. He reads plays well and reacts with reckless abandon as he's a great hitter, but also wraps up well. He gets off blocks and has no problem coming up in the run game, he's also a great zone defender.  

    Weaknesses:

    McDaniel isn't the fastest safety out there, but can cover. He also has a reputation for taking plays off if the game is out of reach and tends to go for the big hit a bit too often. McDaniel's character will be in question during the combine (arrested for assault and battery, but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge).

    Outlook:

    Teams will want a real explanation for his arrest, but if he can own up to it and put on a good combine, McDaniel can work his way into the first round. The talent is there and so is the size, but teams are reluctant to waste a first round pick on someone who's going to get into trouble. 

    Tape

    Here's tape of McDaniel's game against Georgia Tech in 2009. 

Ahmad Black, Florida Gators

2 of 7

    Strengths

    Black is an extremely athletic safety with excellent speed, reaction time and strength as he loves to come up and make big time hits. He's very good at reading plays and making his way to the ball carrier as fast as possible and he's a sold tackler who knows when to wrap up and when to make a crushing hit. Led Florida in tackles with 108 and is one of eight players in the nation with two multi-interception games.

    Weaknesses:

    Black's height and weight (5'9, 185) will leave him at a disadvantage. However, by now he's most likely added weight. He's also not the best cover safety, while he has the speed to stay with receivers, they can get over him for jump balls.

    Outlook:

    Black will be looked at lot this week as he's a wanted asset. Most teams will forgive his height if he can come up and make plays and create turnovers with his tackling and reacting ability (think Bob Sanders). He's projected as late first round pick, but he could drop to the early second and if teams start grabbing at other positions withe more talent he could move down even further like some players have in the past.

    Tape:

    Here's Black's game this season against South Florida.

Rahim Moore, UCLA Bruins

3 of 7

    Strengths

    Moore has good size at 6'1 and is extremely athletic. He's got a ton of experience as a three year starter and is a ball hawk with 10 interceptions in his sophomore season. He has the speed and mobility to cover corners in the slot and in a pinch could play corner at the next level. Moore also has a great football IQ.

    Weaknesses:

    Moore takes horrible angles at times, especially when coming up to take on running backs and quarterbacks running out of the pocket. He doesn't consistently wrap up when making tackles and sometimes will be too aggressive going for the ball which will result in him getting beat.

    Outlook:

    Moore is one of the best free safeties in the draft and he's projected to go in the late first round, but he could last until the early second round, which could be good news for the Cowboys if they wanted to go that route. A great combine would put him in the first round for good.

    Tape:

    Here's some action of Moore against Temple in 2009.    

Deunta Williams, North Carolina Tar Heels

4 of 7

    Strengths:

    Deunta Williams, a converted wide receiver, has great size at 6'2 215 lbs. He was a ball hawk for UNC with 12 interceptions in three years. He's excellent in zone coverage. Williams shows good instincts and has the speed to play center-field, baiting QB's into making bad throws and showing terrific speed for someone his size.

    Weaknesses:

    Williams needs to improve in man coverage, as rumors of him playing corner at the next level have surfaced. He sometimes takes bad angles and doesn't always wrap up when tackling. Broke his fibula and ankle in UNC's bowl game which has prevented him from doing much since and has a history of injuries.

    Outlook:

    Williams was a first round talent before his injury, now some teams will back off of him until later in the draft. He could be there in the third round, but is more likely to be taken at the end of the second, which means the Cowboys would be reaching if they picked him up then. If he can last until third, the Cowboys will have to take a good look at Williams.

    Tape:

    Here is some action of Williams against Miami.  

Jeron Johnson, Boise St. Broncos

5 of 7

    Strengths

    Jeron Johnson loves to make plays when the ball is in the air, which is a plus considering his size (5'10, 195lbs). He has excellent instincts, can read a play and react quickly, and loves to come up in the run game and make a bone-jarring hit. He's solid in zone coverage and a good tackler who consistently wraps up. He would also be able to play corner at the next level.

    Weaknesses

    Johnson doesn't have a lot of experience in man coverage situations, so that's something he'll have to learn. He doesn't have great speed, above average at best and not very athletic, which is odd for someone his size. He also needs improvement in his back pedal and changing direction out of the back pedal.

    Outlook:

    Johnson is a talented player and is part of a solid heritage of defensive backs to come out of Boise St. He'll be there in the second round if the Cowboys want him, but it might be better if they hope he's there in the third as the Cowboys pick in the second round is too soon.

    Tape:

    There is no tape on Johnson 

Quinton Carter, Oklahoma Sooners

6 of 7

    Strengths

    Quinton Carter can play both safety positions which makes him desirable. He's excellent at zone coverage and uses his skill and athleticism to close on the ball and make a play. He can change direction well and excels in a two deep coverage. He's a big hitter over the middle and can back pedal very well.

    Weaknesses:

    Carter needs to improve his tackling, especially in the open field as he doesn't consistently wrap up. Has good speed but not great speed.  He needs to improve his man-to-man coverage skills, as he doesn't move his hips well and is inconsistent when turning his hips and moving.

    Outlook:

    Carter could go anywhere from the second round to the fourth round, which means he'll be there if the Cowboys want to bring in a safety, but want to address some other needs first. He might spend some time on special teams to start his career, but he has the skill set to make it at the next level as a starter.

    Tape:

    There is no tape on Carter.      

The End

7 of 7

    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    That's it for the safeties, be sure to comment on who you think the Cowboys should take a look at, also if there's someone you want me to put in the article be sure to put his name in the comment box and I'll put it up quickly.