Our 2009 Cowboys’ safety grades will be out soon, but no grade is required to know that Dallas could benefit from the addition of a ball-hawking safety. We don’t see it as the #1 team need, but many people do. Thus, safety, along with offensive tackle, are the most popular positions chosen for Dallas in mock drafts.
The problem for the Cowboys is that the top two ball-hawks, Eric Berry and Earl Thomas, will likely be long gone by the time they select at pick #27. USC’s Taylor Mays may still be on the board, but his poor hips and lack of quickness make him a poor fit for Dallas.
People within the organization have been saying great things about second-year safety Michael Hamlin. The Cowboys obviously won’t rely on him though, so safety is a legitimate first round option for the ‘Boys.
Safeties who are considered “ball-hawks” generally have cornerback-type size, but USF’s Nate Allen is an exception. At 6’1”, 205 pounds, Allen’s physique allows him to be above-average in run support. He takes good angles and can actually be quite physical at times.
In addition, Allen also has the skill set to play a “centerfield” type position. He excels at tracking the ball in the air and making plays due to his fluidity and exceptional change of direction.
Allen lacks elite speed, so his man-to-man coverage skills are only average. He is better suited playing in a zone, allowing his instincts to take over.
We see Allen as a bit underrated. He has game-changing ability–a trait the current Cowboys’ safeties lack. He would be a great fit in Dallas’ scheme because of his ability in run support and the fact that he does not give up a lot of big plays (yet he is still able to force turnovers).
Allen has been soaring up boards of late. Once considered a mid-to-late second round selection, there have been rumors of Allen sneaking into the back of the first round. There is practically zero chance Allen will be available for Dallas when their second pick rolls around, but he might be a slight reach at pick #27.
Allen is the type of player that could force the Cowboys to either trade out of the first round or move up in the second. If Dallas does end up trading back come draft time, you can expect that Allen is probably one of the players they are seeking.