In 2016, the Dallas Cowboys selected Cornerback Anthony Brown in the sixth round out of Purdue. There were little to no expectations for him coming into the league, but as we all know, that doesn’t seal your NFL fate. When an opportunity comes knocking you open the door.
Brown would quickly show he had more value than where he was drafted. In ten starts he totaled 51 tackles, 8 passes defended, 1 forced fumble and an interception. This set the stage for higher expectations going into the next season, but it didn’t exactly work out that way.
Although the numbers will tell you he played as well if not better in 2017, the film shows something different. Brown clearly wasn’t getting the same punch on receivers off the line like the year previous. Too many times he was seen running behind receivers for huge gains. These struggles would get him benched after a 28-6 loss to the Chargers in week 12, and he would never return to the starting lineup for the remainder of the season.
2018 was a return to form for Brown. He added another 10 starts to his resume, but more importantly, he showed the flashes of 2016 when he burst on to the scene. The physicality at the line of scrimmage and the awareness came back to his game. He finished with 44 tackles, 8 passes defended, a career-high 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and an interception. More so than the numbers you can bet there’s newfound confidence flowing through his veins heading into the new season.
Anthony Brown is a nickel corner, which is a key position on defense when third downs come about. It is generally recognized as the toughest corner position to play. Slot receivers can attack the middle of the field easier considering the extra cushion they generally get off the line. Also, they can work the sidelines with a plethora of routes, this due to the fact that they are not as close to the out of bounds line as outside receivers. This makes guarding them extremely difficult, especially since most are smaller in stature. Brown being solid on the most crucial down there is will be huge going forward.
The competition has gotten a little tougher behind him with the addition of Michael Jackson via the draft in April. Yes, he is a rookie, so that means he is at a distinct disadvantage competing with Brown. However, he possesses the same skill set and a hunger to see the field early. Any slip up from Brown, be it poor play or injury, opens the door for Jackson. Also, Jourdan Lewis is waiting on the weeds for his opportunity to show and prove, and he’s been waiting since 2017. These two contenders for the throne should definitely motivate Brown to keep his spot on the depth chart.
It’s all about not being complacent with Anthony Brown. He has the leg up on his competition at the moment, but that doesn’t stop the desire from said competition to take his role. Him playing well could put the Cowboys secondary on another level, a championship level at that. On the contrary, if he doesn’t he could see his playing time diminish significantly if not altogether. Now, we wait and see where the chips fall.