We find ourselves meandering through the practice notes and news each day as we lead up to the Hall of Fame game today between the Dallas Cowboys and the Cincinnati Bengals. Lots of questions from the past season are on every fans mind as we get to have a look see at some of the young players the Cowboys are prepping to make the final roster to head into our 50th season and hopefully our 6th Lombardi Trophy and NFL Championship. Since I already focused on the main position that most people are focusing on this year, left tackle, I thought I would delve into the other main question that has been dogging us since Woody left with us a big hole in the secondary when he walked off into his final sunset as a player.
Free Safety is the one main position that we over look every year. Mainly because we have a couple of guys who tend to just kind of get by and barely get the job done. We were spoiled for a long time because we had Darren Woodson back there to hold down the fort and once he left we got to see just how special he really was. This year though going into the off season Jerry decided he has had enough and gave Ken Hamlin his walking papers and went out and drafted someone that everyone thought we were looking at as a cornerback but some scouts believe that he could turn into a very good free safety. I bring you Akwasi Owusu-Ansah from a small little division II school out of western Pennsylvania. He has a lot of the same attributes that Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie had when he came out of a Division II school, DRC has a bit more speed then him but Akwasi may be a more versatile player and be able to impact the game in a couple other ways then playing in the secondary.
Akwasi was a running back n high school and was switched to cornerback when he got to college. You can see this high school background when he is returning the ball, whether it is on an interception return, a kickoff or punt return. He has those knees just pumping away and doesn’t stop those legs churning until he is brought down. Usually not on the first attempt at tackling him either. I have watched a couple of the highlight reels of him returning kicks and seen a couple where it took five to six attempts to finally knock him on his keester.. and some he didn’t find his knee on the ground until he was striking paydirt. With his 6 foot, 200 lb frame he is that tweener between a corner and safety when it comes to size but his 4.4 range 40 yd dash time will make you forget about that quickly especially because that speed translates on the field as well.
Now I know everyone will be questioning his ability to transition from division II to the NFL in the secondary but, that is not a worry because of his talents in the return game. Returning a football on kicks in college no matter the level the same talents are needed in the NFL. Awareness and the ability to turn on a dime and also make people miss. That is something he excelled at in college. He will have time to work on his secondary skills while returning punts and he has already gotten some praise form Brett Maxie because of his ability to learn the defensive sets while recovering from shoulder surgery in the off season. He will obviously have to learn run support to play safety as he was a cornerback in college but he has long arms and great closing speed to stop plays dead, whether its wrapping the ball carrier to tackle him or using those arms to deflect balls. His closing speed though allows him to jump routes on receivers.
All in all I think that his ability to help create turnovers, which the Cowboys need a huge shot in the arm in and also his return ability coudl help us have one of the best return games in the NFL. How would you luck to be the coach or kicker trying to decide which person to kickoff to… Akwasi or Felix. Talk about trying to pick the lesser of two evils!