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Draft Dose: Who needs a safety?

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Alex Mayster
Editorial assistant

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Posted April 15, 2011 @ 9:45 a.m. ET
By Alex Mayster

The safety position is often the last line of defense in the NFL. Not only are these players responsible for making sure no one gets behind them, but with the complexity of current-day NFL defenses, many are expected to protect against the run, as well. Players like Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed have shown how elite safeties can change the game, while it is no secret how badly a poor secondary can hurt a defense. In the 28th installment of the Draft Dose series, PFW takes a look at five teams who need help at the safety position:


The Broncos have a pair of veteran safeties in FS Brian Dawkins and SS Renaldo Hill, but will look to get younger in the secondary by adding another player to the mix. Both in their 30s, Dawkins and Hill have a combined 25 years of service in the league. As important as experience is, both are past their prime and seem to have lost both speed and playmaking ability. S Darcel McBath was taken in the second round of the 2009 draft to provide depth at the position, but a series of injuries have kept him from reaching his full potential. With one of the league's oldest secondaries, expect the Broncos to take a safety in the middle rounds of the draft.


Jerry Jones might be looking for two safeties before the next football season begins. Gerald Sensabaugh has started 29 games for the Cowboys over the past two seasons, but the potential free agent is not expected to return. Alan Ball was a 16-game starter opposite Sensabaugh last season, but might become a backup if Dallas can acquire more talent at the position. It is still not known what type of defense the Cowboys will run next season, so determining which type of player to bring in is difficult at this point. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, a fourth-round pick in ’10, could compete for a starting spot. 


After starting six different safety combinations last season, the Jaguars will look to shore up the position heading into '11. Jacksonville ultimately settled on two second-year pros, Courtney Greene and Don Carey, who were not overly impressive. Greene was the better of the two, looking solid against the run as he progressed playing closer to the line of scrimmage. The plan for the Jaguars is to both draft and sign a safety, creating competition in the defensive backfield. 


The Texans have a glaring hole at the safety position after releasing veteran Eugene Wilson. A 13-game starter last season, Wilson was cut from new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' defense after not recording an interception for the first time since '06. Bernard Pollard was the regular starter on the opposite side, but he proved to be a liability in coverage and might not return if he hits the free-agent market. In a draft that is thin on safeties, Houston might have to turn to free agency to fill one or both of those spots. Another option is to give either CB Glover Quin a shot at safety or see what former seventh-round DB Troy Nolan can do.


Husain Abdullah did a decent job in 15 starts at safety last season and probably will retain the strong safety job. But FS Madieu Williams, who recently completed his third season in Minnesota, is not expected to return. With so many other needs, the Vikings are not expected to spend a lot of money on a free agent or take a safety in the first two rounds and, without a third-rounder, likely will have to wait until late to add a prospect via the draft. Tyrell Johnson could contribute, although he seemed to lose a ton of confidence last season, as could Jamarca Sanford.

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