Safety Net: How Should Cowboys Fix The Secondary?

There's more than one way for the Cowboys to rebuild their secondary
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Win in free agency or win in the draft. For the Dallas Cowboys, they need both. 

The attention turns to the Dak Prescott dilemma as the focal point of the Cowboys offseason. On pace to lead the league in passing, the 27-year-old suffered a setback with an ankle injury that sidelined him from Week 5 on. 

Everything comes down to price for Prescott. Can this marriage be resolved by Week 1? We can only hope so at this point. 

The Cowboys defense is what will need the long-due makeover. Dan Quinn's addition over Mike Nolan should bring a new feel to the 23rd ranked defense from last season. 

Will Jaylon Smith benefit from a new coordinator? 

Can DeMarcus Lawrence live up to the lucrative contract? 

They'll need to if they intend to bring the "Legion of Boom" style to the Star. 

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Good defenses are now built with strong secondaries. Quinn's work with the back end in Seattle helped him land the Falcons head coaching job. And while he's best known for his 28-3 Super implosion, his work with the 12th Man will be adored for years to come.

It's where Dallas can improve in 2021.

The Cowboys secondary allowed an average of 227.6 passing yards per game. They also only forced 10 interceptions, three more than in 2019. 

Trevon Diggs, the team's second-round pick from 2020, is expected to guard one side of the field at cornerback. With Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis hitting free agency, who will be his counterpart? 

The Cowboys hold the No.10 pick in this year's draft. Virginia Tech's Caleb Farley, Jaycee Horn and Alabama's Patrick Surtain II have seen their names fairly mocked in this location. 

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What does Quinn value more? Should the Cowboys want speed for zone coverage? Farley should be the man. If looking for physicality and press and the line of scrimmage? Surtain is the easy option.

We don't think that this should stop Dallas from adding a name in free agency. 

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Quinn's defense will call on two safeties that can counteract each other's top skills. Ricardo Allen worked in high coverage against Keanu Neal's run-first style. Will that be Dallas' secondary once again? (Fish has also mentioned names like Niners safety Jaquiski Tartt, Karl Joseph in Cleveland and Chris Banjo of the Cardinals.)

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We also see sense in exploring Patrick Peterson (at safety?) and in a "Boom'' reunion with cornerback Richard Sherman, a fan of Quinn's.

Should Quinn look for a draft-able rangy ball-hawk as the "last man defense", Richie Grant from UCF fits that system. Speed, range and quick processing in coverage are just several of the skills that make the former Golden Knight one of the best single-high safeties in college football. 

His limitations? Few. Play him in the slot or high and watch Grant work in a team's favor. 

Will Donovan Wilson be ready to step up as the starting strong safety? If not, Dallas could offer Xavier Woods the chance to return. He declined under Nolan but perhaps will thrive with Quinn playing him in a Kam Chancellor role.

When the defense is good, Dallas is as well. In Prescott's first four years, Dallas' D ranked in the top 10 three times. 

We could see a quick rebuild, but it starts by drafting the best fits for Quinn's schemes early on draft night. ... or maybe by Quinn relying on some useful old habits and old friends.

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