Cowboys Predicted to Add ‘Turnover Machine’ to Replace Jayron Kearse

Overall, the Cowboys rated well when it came to pass coverage last season. They had 15 interceptions, which rated 12th in the NFL, and at Pro Football Focus, they had a coverage grade of 81.8, which was ninth in the NFL. But they were spotty when it came to depth in the defensive backfield, especially at safety, where Jayron Kearse, who played a hefty 860 snaps, was given a grade of 44.9. That was 94th out of 95 safeties in the NFL. It’s something that could be addressed in the Cowboys draft.

Tyler Nubin, potential Cowboys draft pick

That’s why CBS Sports has the Cowboys looking to the safety spot in its latest mock, with Minnesota’s Tyler Nubin landing in Dallas with the 25th pick.

As the architect of the mock, Chris Trapasso wrote, “Nubin is a three-down safety who, given the Cowboys’ pass-rush capabilities, could become a turnover machine in Dallas.”

Cowboys Draft Pick Could Replace Jayron Kearse

It’s a safe bet that the Cowboys will look to move on from Kearse next season, whether that happens in the draft or in free agency. He turns 30 this month, and his performance dropped off sharply in 2023, after two very solid seasons in Dallas in 2021 and 2022., when he posted PFF grades 71.9 and 75.9.

Kearse was whistled for eight penalties last season, by far the most of his career (his previous worsts had been the four penalties he gave up in 2020 and 2021). He missed 10.7% of his tackles last year, too, also a career worst. He had missed only 3.5% and 3.9% in his two previous seasons in Dallas.

Kearse broke up only three passes in 2023, after breaking up 15 in his first two Cowboys seasons combined. According to PFF, he allowed a 101.5 passer rating when a quarterback targeted him, up from 76.5 the previous season.

It does not help, either, that the Cowboys’ other two primary safeties, Malik Hooker and Donovan Wilson, not only outplayed Kearse significantly last year, but they were signed to long-term deals before the start of the year. Hooker got three years and $24 million and Wilson got three years and $21 million, a significant investment at a position where the Cowboys typically look for bargain values.

Tyler Nubin Could Be Ready to Play After 5 Years in College

Nubin is a five-year collegian who will turn 23 in June, and comes in with more maturity than most rookies—which means he could well be ready to play and contribute as a rookie.

As PFF wrote of Nubin, who is ranked the No. 30 prospect on the site’s draft board, “Nubin is an experienced safety who can play both free and strong responsibilities. He’s reliable in run defense, but his most impressive trait is his anticipation in coverage. There are more athletic safeties in this class, but few, if any, can see the game better than Nubin.”

At Bleacher Report, Nubin drew similar praise for his ability to defend the run from his position, but got some questions about his footwork:

“When playing the pass, Nubin has the ability to play as a deep defender in single high coverage and from the split safety look as well. As a deep safety, he has shown choppy footwork in his pedal and limited range from the middle of the field. His best work often comes from the slot and underneath coverage.”

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