Mac Engel

The biggest winner from the Dallas Cowboys draft ... Jeff Heath?

See who we talked to on the NFL Draft red carpet

Star-Telegram reporter Lena Blietz talks to potential first-round picks and college coaches on the red carpet at the 2018 NFL Draft.
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Star-Telegram reporter Lena Blietz talks to potential first-round picks and college coaches on the red carpet at the 2018 NFL Draft.

The biggest winners of the Dallas Cowboys' draft were not Leighton Vander Esch, Dorance Armstrong or Connor Williams but Jeff Heath, Kavon Frazier and Xavier Woods.

The current crew of Cowboys safeties live to not only play another day, but start for another season.

With more needs than available picks, the Cowboys were not able to address their continual need at safety in the 2018 NFL Draft. The team passed on trying to trade up to acquire Florida State's Derwin James, who was selected with the 17th pick by the SoCal Chargers, two slots ahead of Dallas.

They didn't trade for Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas, either.

And we know they would never sign free agent Eric Reid, because he's one of them kneelers.

Your 2018 Cowboys safeties will be, barring a surprise addition in June, Jeff Heath at strong safety and Xavier Woods at free safety. Frazier figures in this scenario as well. Also currently listed on the roster as potential safety options are Marqueston Huff, former UTEP quarterback Jameill Showers, and Jason Thompson.

The Cowboys moved Byron Jones from safety back to corner this off-season.

Maybe Tank Lawrence will sack the quarterback on every single play.

The Cowboys need plays from their safeties and this crew has not given any indication they can make but more than a few.

Heath was an undrafted player out of Saginaw Valley State who is one of the best stories in the NFL. This doesn't mean he's a great NFL player, but he's not some bum stealing money. He's also merely pretty good.

In '17, Heath was second on the team with 71 tackles, led the team with three interceptions and forced three fumbles, including the "game-winning" forced fumble in the team's win at Oakland.

Woods was a sixth round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. As a rookie, Woods was credited with 42 tackles last season and one interception. He showed something, but nothing to get too overly excited about.

Frazier was a sixth round pick out of Central Michigan in 2016; last season, he had 33 tackles and a forced fumble.

None of this is a bad, but it's not exactly encouraging, either. This state is merely a sign of how hard this position has been to fill for this team for more than a decade.

The team selected J.J. Wilcox in the third round in 2013, and while he was willing to play a game of chicken against an 18-wheeler, he never mastered the art of coverage. He signed as a free agent with Tampa Bay in '17, but after not being able to move up the Bucs' depth chart was traded to Pittsburgh for a sixth-round pick.

There was Matt Johnson, a fourth-round pick in 2012 whom the team held on to for two years despite the fact he never played in an NFL game. He only appeared in one preseason game. Injuries never allowed him to play.

Barry Church was an undrafted player in 2010 who developed into a nice safety; he played in 90 games for the Cowboys from 2010 to 2016. He left after '16 when he signed a four-year, $26 million deal with the Jaguars.

And there you have it — the best safety for the Dallas Cowboys remains Jeff Heath.

It's both a testament to Heath, and an indictment on the Cowboys.

As a result, the big winners of the draft for the Cowboys were Heath, Frazier and Woods.

The Dallas Cowboys are hosting the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The NFL Draft Experience will be held at the outdoor plazas featuring games, sports network sets, exhibits and more.

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