The Dallas Cowboys could be forced to replace a key defensive starter this offseason.
As mentioned by Bleacher Report’s NFL staff, the Cowboys could be looking for starting strong safety Jayron Kearse’s replacement this offseason. The potential replacement mentioned is none other than University of Minnesota prospect Tyler Nubin. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior is considered the highest-rated player at the position on BR’s big board.
“Starting strong safety Jayron Kearse isn’t playing well this season and is an impending free agent. So, the Cowboys will likely be looking for Kearse’s replacement this offseason, and Nubin is currently the highest-rated player at the position on B/R’s big board.”
B/R NFL draft scout Corey Giddings describes Nubin as a “big, physical” safety who works well closer to the line of scrimmage.
“Nubin is a big, physical safety who has shown the ability to play at multiple levels but does his best work closer to the line of scrimmage,” B/R’s NFL draft scout Cory Giddings said. “He’s a strong player who makes quick run reads, isn’t afraid to throw his body around or deliver big hits, and does a good job taking on blocks and securing tackles.”
Where Tyler Nubin Is Projected to Be Drafted
Mock drafts have Nubin going anywhere from the middle of the first round through the second round. CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso projects Nubin to be selected with the 18th overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft. Meanwhile, NFL Draft Buzz projects Nubin could be selected in the second round.
With the Cowboys currently holding a 5-3 record and most likely ending the season as a playoff team, they’re projected to pick at No. 21 by Trapasso.
In NFL Draft Buzz’s scouting report of Nubin, they marvel over his physicality.
“Can get up under a receiver’s chin and has the speed to flip his hips and run downfield. Nubin has the quick and surprisingly powerful hands to jostle receivers early. But he’s at his best peeking into the backfield. Straight-line speed to take a pick to the house. Can punish receivers with closing speed and desire to hit at max impact.”
Why Cowboys Will Likely Move off of Jayron Kearse
The 29-year-old Kearse is completing the final year of a two-year, $10 million deal he signed prior to the start of the 2022 season. Although Kearse has served as a full-time starter since his arrival in Dallas in 2021, his 2023 season has been a below-average one.
According to Pro Football Focus, Kearse has posted a 51.9 defensive grade and 51.9 grade in coverage. Both of those grades are career lows and are a stark decline from the previous season in which he posted a 70.2 defensive grade and 63.6 grade in coverage. Furthermore, he’s allowed 17 receptions on 20 targets (85.0% completion rate) this season.
Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine actually wrote about how the Cowboys missed an opportunity to unload Kearse at the trade deadline.
“The Cowboys were mostly in position to be buyers at the deadline, but it’s worth taking a look at who they could have unloaded to get a draft pick,” writes Ballentine. “Someone like Jayron Kearse would have been an ideal candidate.”
He mentions Kearse’s decline in playing time as a reason for why he’s likely on the way out in free agency.
“Earlier in the season Kearse was on the field for every defensive snap,” writes Ballentine. “Since the by week, he’s seen a reduction in those snaps. Donovan Wilson and Malik Hooker are playing more than Kearse with Juanyeh Thomas waiting in the wings.”
After playing 100% of the defensive snaps in three consecutive games between Weeks 2 and 4, Kearse has appeared in less than 74% of the defensive snaps in the past two games.
Considering Kearse appears to be on the way, the Cowboys could find a young, suitable replacement in Nubin.