Monday, May 16, 2011
Position: Strong Safety
Size: 6'0, 209
Age: 28, 6/13/83
Drafted: 2005: Round 5, Pick 157
Experience: 6 seasons
Salary History and Contract Status - 2010: $1,815,000, 2011: Unrestricted Free Agent
2005 Draft Profile From OurLads.com: Gerald Sensabaugh - 6'0 - 212 - 4.48 (40 time) - Four-year starter. Transfer from East Tennessee State. Height, weight, speed project. Does not play as fast as his timed speed. Misses a lot of tackles. Drops his head and takes bad angles. Will hit, but doesn't wrap up. Best on things in front of him. Will break up and support run. Will get cut on the perimeter. Doesn't protect his legs. Plays on punt team. Hustles down on coverage. Doesn't play with knee bend. Plays tall. False steps when he changes directions. Some hesitation. Is not smooth in any phase of his game. Vertical jump of 46 inches at the combine and had one of the top safety workouts. Late round/free agent.
Pre-2010: Strong Safety is another spot where the Cowboys have been cruising along without a real plan it seems for the past several years. You can either address these issues with a expensive free agent signing or premium draft pick, or you continue to carry on hoping the hole fills itself. In October of 2008, Roy Williams, a several time Pro Bowl Safety who was in a steep decline, busted his forearm and his career with the Dallas Cowboys came to a close. The Cowboys finished 2008 with scotch tape on the position as Patrick Watkins, Courtney Brown, and Keith Davis all took turns attempting to fill the safety spot along side Ken Hamlin without any sort of distinction or success. In March of 2009, the Cowboys signed Sensabaugh to a 1-year deal for about $1.75million. In Wade Phillips defense, the strong safety is never asked to rush the passer (5 times in 2009), but rather offer underneath coverage, run support, and a fair amount of 2-deep play where he must be a functional deep safety. Sensabaugh offered play that would be termed average to adequate.
2010: In 2010, the Cowboys once again tendered and signed Sensabaugh to a 1-year deal, worth $1.8 million. His rushes were increased to 9 and he actually recorded 2 sacks. He also intercepted 5 passes on the year, including 4 from Thanksgiving until the end of the year. If he is kept out of man-to-man downfield, he is fine. Nate Burleson of Detroit did demonstrate that he could be exposed in that regard. Overall, a criticism of Sensabaugh is that he doesn't have the cover skills to be a proper Free Safety. But, as a Strong Safety, he does not possess the demeanor or ability to be a big hitting strong safety in the box. On his sack of Brett Favre, he has every chance to put a giant hit on the QB, but rather eases him to the ground. The same happened in Week 6 against Eli Manning. After that game, he commented about how he was unwilling to risk a fine and pay $50,000 if the NFL deemed his hit illegal. In 2 years as the Cowboys starting Strong Safety, where he has started 31 of 32 games, he has forced 0 fumbles. In short, he seems to be a "finesse" SS, or a SS who does not enjoy hitting. Perhaps his lowlight of the year was when he allowed Mario Manningham a free pass to the end-zone on Monday Night Football with a "practice speed" attempt at tackling the WR at the 9 yard line.
2011 Analysis: Because the Cowboys have plenty of other problems, I don't anticipate that they will be able to address this issue as well. In some respects, he played reasonably well in 2010. 5 Interceptions and competent coverage for most of the year should not be undersold. But, in a perfect world, you would sure desire your SS to have some level of an intimidating presence across the middle. In fact, name a great SS, and I submit to you that there is a fear factor that opposing WRs know all about. Sensabaugh does not look like contact is something he enjoys. It is tough to remember even a handful of big hits in 2 years and with 0 forced fumbles and some tape that indicates that he would rather not risk a fine, you can understand that sometimes "measureables" can be deceiving. The fact is that size, weight, height, bench press, and vertical leap can only tell you so much about what they are capable of, but unless you can measure their interest in hitting, you simply have to watch them play to see what sort of player they are. The Cowboys have signed him to a 1-year deal twice, and chances are they will attempt to do it again when the CBA is agreed upon. Alan Ball is a bigger priority for replacement, but it sure seems that the Cowboys could use a player at both spots in an ideal setting. It appears they presently have stop-gap types at each spot.