Circle of Life: Is CB DaRon Bland the Next Anthony Brown?

    has quickly risen from a late-round hopeful to one of the ' more trusted cornerbacks going into his rookie season. Even in this early stage, Bland's career is already starting to remind you of the last guy to wear #30 in Dallas, his teammate .

    Bland hasn't just taken Brown's old . He's heading into 2022 as arguably the team's fourth-best CB behind , Brown, and . Despite being just a 5th-round pick in April, DaRon has earned the team's confidence more than second-year prospects and .

    Anthony Brown had a similar start in Dallas. A 6th-round pick in the 2016 draft, Brown beat out some more experienced competition that year to be the #4 behind , , and .

    At the time, Brown's proximity to playing a significant role on was a cause for concern. Playing time came quickly due to a hamstring for Scandrick, then a groin injury to Claiborne later in the year. Anthony ended up starting nine games for the 2016 Cowboys but was surprisingly solid, helping Dallas go 13-3 in one of our best modern-era seasons.

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    Since then Brown has continued to surprise with fantastic longevity for a late-round pick. He maintained a spot among the team's top-three for the next four years, earned a second contract, and became a full-time starter last season. Now in his sixth season, Brown is a trusted veteran who is often underappreciated by Cowboys fans.

    Earlier this , Anthony joined the movement of corners who were changing their jersey numbers to single digits under the new NFL rules. He will be wearing #3 in 2022.

    DaRon Bland
    Dallas Cowboys CB DaRon Bland
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    Incidentally, DaRon Bland has taken over Brown's old number and his old role as a surprising late-round standout. The competition was even stiffer for Bland with Joseph and Wright both being Day 2 picks from last year, but DaRon enters his rookie year with more hype and momentum than any other CB prospect.

    Granted, the next step for Bland is what really matters. He has to prove in the regular season, as Brown did in 2016, that he can hold up against the NFL's best in real-game speed. With three guys ahead of him in those primary CB roles, and two of them passed the age of 26, DaRon will almost assuredly see significant playing time at some point this year.

    Bland's potential ascension couldn't come at a better time for roster management, either. Anthony Brown's contract expires after this season and Jourdan Lewis will have just one year left on his. Dallas could get back $5 million in cap space on Lewis' deal if he's released, making him a potential cap casualty in 2023.

    Right now, DaRon is forcing his competition further down the . If he lives up to the hype, could he wind up forcing Brown or Lewis off the team next year?

    Five years ago, neither Morris Claiborne nor Brandon Carr returned to Dallas after Anthony Brown's rookie season. While far from the only reason, Brown's surprising rise contributed to their demise.

    Again, it's still early and DaRon Bland still has a lot to prove. But his current trajectory is surprisingly good and reminiscent of Anthony Brown becoming a long-term asset for the Cowboys. With other young CBs not yet emerging and 2022 potentially being Brown's last season in Dallas, Bland's arrival couldn't have come at a better time.

    Jess Haynie
    Jess Haynie
    Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!


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    Hopefully, he doesn’t suffer the “sophomore slump” that Anthony Brown did. I don’t think he will, because, despite their similarity in circumstances (late draft pick, smaller school, early potential to move up), they are different types of players.

    Anthony Brown has always relied on his underrated speed (4.35 at Combine) to help bail himself out when he makes a mistake. Unfortunately, he still makes quite a few mistakes and has resorted to being even more grabby than he was in his earlier years. That’s contributed to his big increase in penalties. His lack of coaching/continuity may have contributed to his lack of instincts and technique. Remember, he had Joe Baker, Kris Richard, and Al Harris in his first 5 years in the league. He also got bounced between NCB, CB, and even got some reps at FS one offseason. He’s also a bit smaller than our coaching staffs after his first two years have preferred. So, he’s also been trying to play bigger than he is.

    DaRon Bland won’t have some of those problems, but may have other ones, as he’s a different type of CB. He’s 1″ taller and, while not “slow” (4.48 pro day), isn’t close to Brown’s athleticism. But, from the start, he’s much more used to playing the physical style that Dan Quinn and Al Harris want. Another way he’s different from Brown is he’s already showing good instincts. So, maybe he won’t need Brown’s burst of speed to play catch up as often. He is grabby, like Brown. But, that may be the way Dan Quinn wants them to play, dating back to his Seattle Legion of Boom, “they can’t call everything” days.