Executive vice president Stephen Jones has already said the Dallas Cowboys will focus primarily on defense in the April NFL Draft in search of upgrades and playmakers at defensive end, cornerback and safety after being decimated in free agency.
But the Cowboys believe they have a chance for growth from within at safety in the presence of special teams ace Jeff Heath.
After coming to the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2013, Heath has gone from the overmatched and oft-posterized rookie to impact special teams performer and trusted backup.
Heath opened some eyes in the season-ending divisional playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers with an interception and sack of quarterback Aaron Rodgers in just 21 plays. He also had an interception wiped out by penalty.
“You've got a guy like Jeff Heath who in the biggest game of the year probably made more plays on the ball than anyone on the defensive side of the ball that day,” Jones said. “We talked before free agency ever started that this guys deserves to compete to start.”
The Cowboys will likely draft a safety to help make up for the free agent departures of Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox. Kavon Frazier, a 2016 sixth-round pick, is an option there as well.
But team will also give Heath a chance to compete for the starting job, per Jones.
Heath led the team in interceptions 2015 with two and also had a regular-season interception in 2016.