Cowboys' NFL Draft Fits: DB

If there's one unit where the Cowboys need an influx of young talent, it's defensive back. Even with their large number of defenseive needs, let alone their need at running back, it wouldn't be surprising to see the team bring in at least three defensive backs by this time next week.

The Cowboys absolutely need to upgrade at free safety, though there aren't many elite options at the position. One approach they could take is to bring in a few of the cornerbacks who could make the switch to safety and let them fight for positions in training camp.

Damarious Randall, Arizona State
Ht. 5107, Wt. 196, Arm: 30 1/4”, Hand: 8 5/8”, Bench: 14
40 yd: 4.46, 10 yd.: 1.56, 3 Cone: 6.83, Vertical: 38”, Broad: 10'

Randall, a community college transfer, was quite the find for the Sun Devils, eventually notching 9.5 tackles for loss, 12 passes broken up, 3 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles on the way to all conference honors last season.

  • Strengths: Lightning quick. Good change of direction. Athletic. Very good range and takes good angles. Position versatility. Willing tackler. High effort.
  • Weaknesses: Not a good tackler. Undersized. Short frame, arms. Inefficient feet at times. Can be overly aggressive.

Randall's skillset and questions are similar to Earl Thomas' as a draft prospect, but Randall is no Earl Thomas. He's a second-round value and his range as a pro looks to be between an above average single-high safety and a third cornerback.

P.J. Williams, Florida State
Ht. 6000, Wt. 194, Arm: 31”, Hand: 8 5/8”, Bench: 12
40 yd: 4.57, 10 yd.: 1.55, 3 Cone: 7.08, Vertical: 40”, Broad: 11'

Williams began the season as one of the draft's top cover-corner prospects. Despite his 6.5 tackles for loss, 10 passes broken up and second-team All-America honors, the junior cornerback's stock has slipped some.

  • Strengths: He looks the part and he's very physical. Fluid in coverage. Very good tackler. Takes good angles. Good recovery speed. Instinctive.
  • Weaknesses: Limited in coverage. Average change of direction. Handsy at times. Can be overly aggressive. Reported DUI arrest.

Williams is good in press coverage, but he too often allows separation when he can't grab. He plays well when everything is in front of him and, though, and he has the size, physicality and aggression to be a legimitate candidate to convert to safety.

Quinten Rollins, Miami (Ohio)
Ht. 5111, Wt. 195, Arm: 30 1/4”, Hand: 9”, Bench: 14
40 yd: 4.57, 10 yd.: 1.61, 3 Cone: 7.10, Vertical: 36.5”, Broad: 10'2"

Rollins played three years of basketball for Miami before making the jump to football. The transition didn't seem too difficult, as he recorded 7 interceptions on the way to being named the Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2014.

  • Strengths: Ballhawk. Fluid hips and efficient feet. Willing tackler. Slips block well. Physical. Takes good angles. High-points well.
  • Weaknesses: Extremely inexperienced. Caught peaking into the backfield at times. Poor tackling technique (doesn't wrap up, drops head).

Based soley on 2014 performance, Rollins is a third- or fourth-round value as a cornerback. If you factor his inexperience and consider his first-round potential, he's more of a second-round value that has the ability to play any position in a defensive backfield.

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Steven Nelson, Oregon State
Ht. 5101, Wt. 197, Arm: 30 5/8”, Hand: 9 1/4”, Bench: 19
40 yd: 4.49, 10 yd.: 1.57, 3 Cone: 6.88, Vertical: 34.5”, Broad: 9'7"

The junior college transfer was a two-time all-conference selection at Oregon State and broke up 8 passes and recorded 2 interceptions in 2014. His play at the Senior Bowl opened a lot of eyes to his ability.

  • Strengths: Very good tackler. Technically sound. Tough. Good recovery speed. Feisty. Physical at catch point and in run support.
  • Weaknesses: Combine athleticism didn't show up on tape. Short frame. Undersized.

Nelson is the only Division-I cornerback who didn't miss a tackle all season, according to ProFootballFocus. He's a solid third-round value who can play outside or nickel cornerback in the NFL.


There aren't any elite defensive backs in the 2015 draft, but there are many prospects with slight flaws. Pete Carroll built the best secondary in the NFL with a group of cornerbacks like that.

If the Cowboys can find the players with flaws they could have success correcting, they could draft all the defensive backs they need outside the first round.

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