It’s no secret that the Dallas Cowboys need upgrades in their secondary. The cornerback position has gotten plenty of attention with the potential drafting of Alabama’s Patrick Surtain or South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn, but safety is also high on the Cowboy’s priority list.
Donovan Wilson showed his worth in 2020 as a ball-hawking playmaker with two interceptions, three pass breakups, three forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries from the strong safety spot. However, with the departure of Xavier Woods to the Minnesota Vikings, free safety has become a need, and TCU’s Ar’Darius Washington would be a nice fit in Dan Quinn’s scheme.
Washington joined 105.3 The Fan’s Nosebleed Seats on Thursday and when asked if he could tell the Cowboys one thing to sell them on bringing him to America’s Team, he had this to say.
“I’ll definitely tell them that I’m going to make the whole defensive team better, and if they want a ball-hawking safety they need to come get me,” Washington said.
Washington transitioned from playing cornerback during his high school days to safety as a freshman at TCU in 2018 but only played in four games to preserve his redshirt. A year later, he made his name known with 46 tackles and five interceptions while being named Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year. In 2020 he didn’t have an interception but was still productive with 37 tackles and four pass breakups.
During his two seasons on the field for the Horned Frogs, Washington was elite in coverage. He only allowed 157 yards in 562 coverage snaps. Also, Washington surrendered just seven first downs in coverage which was the least in college football since 2018.
Although a smaller safety prospect, Ar’Darius Washington is a very physical player in all departments of his game. Possessing a fluid backpedal in zone coverage, he has a great eye for passing concepts and the exact plan of attack from offenses. His change of direction/hips are clean when transitioning in and out of his breaks. Washington can turn and run when asked to, even though the Horned Frogs incorporate lots of two-high and three-safety looks on the back end. Physicality as a run supporter shows up often and he’s often been able to save the day as the last line of defense. While not afforded opportunities to play it often except in the red zone, he’s shown to be adequate in man coverage, as he has the smoothness and athleticism to cover slot options. He’s got ball skills galore and he attacks the ball out of the air. He’s highly competitive at the catch point and many of his turnover opportunities have come from coverage awareness or following the eyes of throwers to take him to intended throwing locations. Washington’s eyes can get caught in the backfield often and he remains glued to play-action fakes for too long. He waits too long to see and diagnose plays, particularly deeper passes. This has resulted in routes getting by him and has left him playing catch up on recovery attempts. His lack of length shows up when attempting to get off blocks and fighting through the trash in order to get to the ball. His lack of height may make some teams hesitant as his measurements are below many previous thresholds for players at the position.
Ideal Role: Developmental free safety.
Scheme Fit: Free safety in zone-heavy scheme.
Official Pro Day Numbers for TCU FS Ar'Darius Washington:
5082, 176 pounds
4.62 40-yard dash (1.62 10-yard)
37.5 inch vertical
10'07 broad jump
4.10 20-yard shuttle
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) March 22, 2021
Many may judge Washington solely because he’s undersized at 5’8 and 180 pounds. However, excellent his ball skills and an ability to cover in the slot and deep make him an interesting safety prospect and a Day 2 selection the Cowboys should consider.
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