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Monday, March 14, 2011
Cowboys' biggest weakness: safety

By Matt Williamson, Scouts Inc.

Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson examines the biggest weakness of each NFC East team and offers some potential solutions.

I would love to see the effects of Dallas' acquiring a free safety with a ton of range and capable of making big plays behind the Cowboys’ pass rush. A player like that could make up for some problems at the cornerback position.

Michael Huff
Michael Huff could be a good fit in the Cowboys' secondary.
Last year, Alan Ball was the starter at free safety. He failed to make an impact but could provide valuable depth. Gerald Sensabaugh is up for free agency, and it would be smart to bring him back for stability while trying to upgrade the starting spot opposite him where Ball played.

There isn’t much else on the roster to be excited about. Dallas’ safeties gave the corners little to no support in 2010. There isn’t a safety worth taking with the Cowboys’ first-round pick, but Dallas does have the 40th overall selection. At that spot, they could land the top safety in this draft class, UCLA’s Rahim Moore. Or maybe they have to move up a handful of spots at a minimal price to get Moore. But Moore really can’t be considered a huge difference-maker, especially in the short term.

Dallas is built to win now. Going the veteran route at safety could be the best option. In fact, it shocked me that Dallas wasn’t more proactive to land Oshiomogho Atogwe, who was quickly scooped up by division rival Washington. But there are other veterans who could make sense to upgrade this area of weakness. The Eagles’ Quintin Mikell is the best safety on the market. He isn’t a true free safety in the mold I described above, but signing him would do damage to a division rival while also very much upgrading the safety position overall. But the fit I like best is Oakland’s Michael Huff, who came on in a big way last year after the Raiders finally put him more in deep patrol instead of keeping him close to the line of scrimmage. Huff was a safety/cornerback tweener coming out of the University of Texas and could be just want the doctor ordered in Big D.

The other guy who would be a home run and an excellent fit for Dallas is San Diego’s Eric Weddle. Weddle can do it all. He excels near the line of scrimmage, but I see him as being best off the ball and in deep patrol. Rob Ryan would love the versatility of this Pro Bowl-caliber safety. Weddle is also younger than Huff. Two other less expensive options would be the Jets' Brodney Pool and Chicago’s Danieal Manning. Both would be upgrades.

The Cowboys do have some options, but there are more teams in the league with free safety needs than needs at strong safety. The draft is very light at the position this year, so this pool of free agents could dry up quickly.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.