For years, the Dallas Cowboys’ secondary has been an area of concern. With the likes of Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr struggling to live up to potential, the unit has been an overall weak spot for the Cowboys defense.
Despite Claiborne coming together to play his best season as a Cowboy in 2015, the free agent defensive back’s future is still up in the air. The same can be said about Brandon Carr in his cap situation.
However, help may be on the way in the secondary. Rookie Byron Jones appears to have solidified the free safety position while the team will also welcome back Orlando Scandrick next season.
Also on the roster to start training camp will be Deji Olatoye, who was signed from the practice squad for the final seven games of the season. He saw 138 snaps in the Cowboys secondary in total, most of which came in his two starts in weeks 16 and 17. This upcoming will now be his contract year.
While Olatoye wasn’t a superstar by any means, he looked solid at the position. The 24-year-old corner out of North Carolina A&T played solid in coverage, and more importantly, was a very strong tackler.
With depth being so important in today’s passing-dominated league, let’s take a look at what Olatoye must do to earn a future with the Cowboys past 2016.
#29 Deji Olatoye
As mentioned, Olatoye is a solid tackler who recorded five solo tackles in both his starts. He also recorded his first career interception in the end zone against the Bills in week 16. The Cowboys are thin at the safety position, with contract years coming for Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox, so Olatoye can elevate his value by potentially taking some reps at safety.
As a cover corner, Olatoye will still need to prove himself at multiple positions in training camp. Going up against the likes of Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams on the outside, and Cole Beasley in the slot, he will certainly be tested day in and day out.
Currently on the depth chart, Olatoye is listed as the #3 right corner behind Claiborne and Terrance Mitchell. Mitchell was another player that joined the Cowboys late in the season and saw time across from Olatoye.
Should Claiborne move onto a new team for 2016, it would bump up Mitchell and Olatoye – who will likely both be fighting for one spot. That is, unless Olatoye can prove himself at safety or on special teams.
If Claiborne does not return, it also means that Brandon Carr will likely see another year as a starter across from Orlando Scandrick – stiffening the competition for both Mitchell and Olatoye.
It will be some time before we see this all play out, but the theme for the Cowboys 2015 training camp was competition – and it appears there will certainly be much more of that in the secondary this summer.