In the Third Round of the 2016 NFL Draft, Defensive Backs Darian Thompson and Daryl Worley were selected just six spots apart from each other. With Thompson now on his third team and Worley his fourth, both are fighting to find a long-term home in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys. However, they may be competing for the same roster spot in 2020.
Thompson was drafted 71st overall by the New York Giants four years ago. The Carolina Panthers made Worley the 77th pick. While Darian has always been a safety, Daryl’s mostly played at cornerback. He was converted to safety late last season by the Oakland Raiders.
Both have a hard time sticking with one team. Thompson earned a starting job as a rookie with the Giants but suffered a season-ending injury in his second game. He returned to start all 16 games in 2017 but was released that offseason.
Thompson joined the Cowboys in October of 2018 when they poached him off the Cardinals’ practice squad. He provided depth and special teams work that year, then returned last season as a primary backup. Darian started four games for Dallas in 2019.
Daryl Worley became a starter midway through his rookie year in Carolina and held the job in 2017. He was traded during the 2018 offseason to the Eagles for WR Torrey Smith.
Later that Spring, Worley was released following an arrest when he was reportedly found passed out in his vehicle. The Raiders quickly Daryl and he served a four-game suspension to start the year.
Worley would start nine games for Oakland in 2018 and then 15 more last season. He became an unrestricted free agent this year.
Still in their physical prime, both Darian Thompson and Daryl Worley are entering their fifth NFL seasons with things to prove. Neither has established themselves the way you’d expect from former 3rd-Round picks.
Unfortunately for them, the road to restoring their NFL relevance in Dallas is jammed tight.
The Cowboys have added a slew of new players at cornerback and safety this offseason. Even with other leaving, the numbers are still heavy as we look ahead to training camp.
- CB Trevon Diggs (rookie)
- CB Reggie Robinson (rookie)
- CB/S Daryl Worley
- CB Maurice Canady
- CB Saivon Smith
- CB Deante Burton
- S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
- S Luther Kirk (rookie)
- CB Chidobe Awuzie
- CB Jourdan Lewis
- CB Anthony Brown
- CB C.J. Goodwin
- CB Chris Westry
- S Xavier Woods
- S Darian Thompson
- S Donovan Wilson
- CB Byron Jones
- CB Donovan Olumba
- S Jeff Heath
- S Kavon Frazier
You get the idea from this list. The Cowboys haven’t just loaded up on option for 2020 but they’ve also added talent who will likely proceed Thompson and Worley at their positions.
Let’s say Dallas keeps 10 total defensive backs. Awuzie and Lewis are your presumed starters at cornerback, plus Brown just got a new three-year contract. You also know that Diggs and Robinson are making it as drafted rookies. That’s five players right there.
Clinton-Dix and Woods should be your starters at safety. Wilson is a second-year prospect that we’re all high on. That’s takes us to quick an easy eight players.
Assuming that Dallas even keeps 10 total players in the secondary, do the last two spots automatically go to Darian Thompson and Daryl Worley?
Before signing Worley in April, the Cowboys had already added free agent CB Maurice Canady a month earlier. He is probably a greater lock for the 2020 roster than either Darian or Daryl.
So, you can see why I project that Thompson and Worley are competing for the same roster spot. And honestly, if some of these younger players have strong camps and preseasons, neither might might make it past final cuts.
If only one of them can make the roster, who has the edge?
While I try not to let the “shiny new toy” affect my judgment, I can’t help but be intrigued by Daryl Worley. He’s been a consistently solid player the last four years even with the changes in uniforms and personal issues.
Most of all, though, his versatility as a CB/S option gives him a considerable advantage in value over Thompson. If neither of these guys can claim a starting role in 2020, having Daryl’s position flex as a depth player is a better fit.
One x-factor here is what happens with Chidobe Awuzie. If the Cowboys keep him at cornerback then they will want a true backup free safety on the roster. That would give Thompson his best chance at sticking around.
But let’s say Awuzie does wind up at safety. That could push either Clinton-Dix or Woods into a backup role along with Donovan Wilson. At that point, Dallas may feel much less need for keeping Darian Thompson on the roster.
Truth be told, there are an unusually high number of variables with the secondary in 2020. With Awuzie, Lewis, and Woods all on expiring contracts, fresh new rookies in Diggs and Robinson, a big name addition in Clinton-Dix; who knows how this will all shake out in the end?
Given their prime ages and experience factors, Thompson and Worley can’t even be dismissed as starting options themselves in 2020. That’s especially true with the massive overhaul of the Cowboys’ defensive coaching staff this year.
That said, the most likely scenario is that these two veterans will be fighting just to make the team. And given the numbers in Dallas’ secondary, Darian Thompson and Daryl Worley will likely going from 2016 draft classmates to competing for the same roster spot in 2020.