Anthony Brown was a long shot to make the Dallas Cowboys roster after being selected in the sixth round in 2016. However, he's been able to find a spot for himself on the Cowboys roster for five seasons and is entering the second year of his three-year, $15.5 million deal that he signed last March, and is the current frontrunner to start opposite Trevon Diggs as an outside cornerback despite primarily being a slot cornerback in his career.
Having that much experience in the NFL, which is the best teacher, Brown has gone from a Day 3 draft selection to being a player that younger guys on the roster look up to. It's a role Brown didn't see coming but he's fully embracing.
“It's crazy,” Brown said. “It happened so fast. I still remember coming in as a rookie.
“I definitely want to be a big brother to all the guys. I want them to look to me if they have any questions, if they have any concerns they want to talk about.”
When Brown entered the NFL he had veterans in front of him to learn from. He was behind Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick, and Morris Claiborne on the depth chart and allowed them to mentor him while he learned the ropes.
He's still getting guidance from those guys even as he enters his sixth season in the league and it's a big reason why he's now in a position to lead.
“I still talk to those guys to this day,” Brown said. They're still helping me.”
The aforementioned Diggs had his struggles as a rookie in 2020 but managed to lead the team in interceptions (3) and passes defended (14). Of course, Diggs had to do the work on the field, but he an influence in his corner helping him along the way in the form of Brown.
“That’s like my big brother,” Diggs said during OTAs, according to the team website. “I go over to his house. He’s a really good influence on my career. I ask him questions all the time. It’s good to have a good vet in your corner that you can talk to.”
Brown has a few other young cornerbacks to take under his wing these days. Kelvin Joseph, who was the 44th pick in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft out of Kentucky, is a candidate to challenge Brown for playing time. Also, Nahshon Wright out of Oregon State was taken in the third round and has been deemed as a sleeper for a starting role with impressive OTA and minicamp practices.
This creates some stiff competition for Brown in 2021. However, the former Purdue Boilermaker isn't backing down from it.
“There’s always competition,” Brown told reporters, via WFAA.com. “It’s the NFL. There’s always going to be competition.”
The Cowboys lost veteran cornerback Chido Awuzie to the Minnesota Vikings in free agency which makes the selections of Joseph and Wright all the more understandable. Brown understands the process and is focused on helping others elevate their game while also fulfilling his role.
“We lost Chido, so we got to replace him and somebody got to come in,” Brown said. “So, there's always going to be competition and you got to do your part and don't worry about that. Like I said, make everybody better around you. At the end of the day, if we win, everybody wins.”
Brown had an up and down 2020 campaign. He tied a career-high with two interceptions but his 10 games played were the second-fewest he's suited up for during his time in the NFL. That was due to multiple rib injuries Brown had to overcome.
“I fractured like five ribs and had to deal with that,” Brown said. “I missed three games and came back. Then I fractured the same three to four ribs again in the Minnesota game, and then I had to miss a couple more games. So it was something tough to deal with, but I just had to fight through it and do what I can and get back with the team.”
With increased competition and an injury-plagued 2020 campaign to bounce back from, Brown has all the motivation he needs to contribute in a big way in 2021.