Scout's Notebook: Cowboys FS Gerald Sensabaugh

Posted Dec. 28, 2011 @ 6:42 p.m.
Posted By Nolan Nawrocki

Cowboys FS Gerald Sensabaugh
Height: 6-0 1/4 Weight: 209 Speed: 4.53

Notes: After three standout seasons at East Tennessee State, Sensabaugh was forced to transfer after the program was disbanded. He landed at North Carolina, where he proved he could play against better competition and stood out on special teams, blocking three punts in one game. Was selected in the fifth round by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2005 after testing very well at the NFL Scouting Combine, setting an NFL record with a Combine-record 46-inch vertical jump (in a year when NFL executives acknowledged vertical measurements were improperly inflated). Started the final 3-of-17 games in which he played as a rookie, stepping in for the injured Donovan Darius at strong safety, and finishing with 31 tackles and a pass breakup. Saw increased action in '06 after Darius went down again, starting 7-of-16 contests and notching 47 tackles, two pass breakups and two interceptions. A shoulder injury in the second week of ’07 placed him on injured reserve. He returned to start 13-of-16 games in '08, lining up at both safety positions, and recording 82 tackles, four pass breakups and four interceptions. Also had a blocked kick on special teams. Was not re-signed by the Jaguars after his second arrest — — driving with a suspended license and a guns charge in February 2009 — during his time with the team. Signed a series of one-year deals with the Cowboys starting in '09, when he entered the starting lineup and tallied 81-10-1. Had a career-high in tackles in ’10 with 86-9-5, and has tallied 69-3-2 in 15 starts in '11. Dallas signed him to a five-year, $22.5 million extension in early December.   

Positives: Good athletic ability and movement skills. Strikes with abandon when he has a clean shot. Can open up his stride and cover a lot of ground on the back end. Exceptional leaping ability — has a vertical jump of 40-plus inches and is quick to react to the tipped ball. Is tough and will play through injuries — has been taking pain-killing shots before games to play with a sprained foot late this season. Well-versed, special-teams coverage contributor.

Negatives: Struggles to handle complex assignments and line up a defense. Has undisciplined eyes. Is straight-linish and does not transition cleanly out of his breaks — can be exposed in man coverage and be late to react to the thrown ball. Freelances too much, takes some questionable angles and does not consistently wrap. Not a face-up tackler — plays without enough urgency and misses too many tackles in space. Marginal downfield ball skills. Has had multiple run-ins with the law involving weapons' charges and a high number of traffic violations that indicate a lack of discipline off the field.

Summary: Has benefited from the presence of veteran Abram Elam making the secondary calls this season. However, he still has been victimized often in coverage — allowed Brent Celek to catch a TD pass in the middle of the field in Week 16 — and has not proven to be a dependable center fielder. Was rewarded with a contract that positioned him as one of the top-15 highest-paid safeties in football, but remains a liability in need of upgrading on the Cowboys' back end.