One of the biggest mysteries on the Dallas Cowboys’ 2020 roster is Cornerback Jourdan Lewis. Over the last three years he’s made some of the biggest individual plays on defense but hasn’t been granted a starting role. Where does this leave him entering this fourth season; the final year on his rookie contract?
After flashing some big potential as a rookie, Lewis had to claw his way up the CB depth chart the last two seasons. That was largely attributed to former Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard, who didn’t seem to favor Jourdan due to his smaller stature.
However, by the middle of last year, even Richard couldn’t deny that Lewis was the superior player to Anthony Brown. The playing time shifted and Jourdan contributed two interceptions and a surprising four sacks to Dallas’ defensive effort.
With Byron Jones leaving in free agency, his starting job seemed like it would naturally fall to Lewis. And even if Dallas brought in a new talent, many would argue that Jourdan has greater claim to a starting role over Chidobe Awuzie.
But the Cowboys didn’t just bring in one new player to replace Jones. There is a massive influx of fresh faces at cornerback, and you have to wonder what that means for Jourdan Lewis in this critical contract year.
The foremost challenger to Lewis’ spot on the team will rookie Trevon Diggs. Considered a 1st-Round talent by many, Diggs was added in the 2nd Round and will be given every opportunity to compete with Awuzie and Lewis.
He’s joined by another major rookie acquisition in Reggie Robinson. Considered a steal in the 4th Round, Robinson certainly has the potential to push our fourth-year veterans.
Diggs and Robinson already have some advantages. A new coaching staff in Dallas means blank slates for everyone. And with their new rookie contracts, Trevon and Reggie offer the Cowboys added incentive to invest in their development.
Another big threat is veteran free agent Daryl Worley, who has at times been a standout performer in his previous NFL stops. Worley may have been a late addition this year but his experience and size could definitely make him competitive.
We also have Anthony Brown returning on a new three-year contract, plus another free agent signing in Maurice Canady. With these and even a few other players, Dallas has given its new defensive coaches a lot of options to choose from in building this roster.
One could argue that adding so many options is a sign that the Cowboys aren’t planning to commit to Jourdan Lewis long term. If so, how could that affect his place on the team in 2020?
Lewis was once seen as a late 1st-Round, early 2nd-Round talent when he entered the NFL in 2017. His dropped to the 3rd Round because of a pending legal matter which was eventually resolved. But his upside is right there with any of the Cowboys’ top prospects this season.
Unfortunately, it may now be his contract that holds him back. Dallas may not want to bury a younger prospect like Robinson on the depth chart for the sake of Jourdan or Chidobe Awuzie, only to then have those players depart in free agency next year.
Talk of Awuzie moving to safety could be good for Lewis, but what if guys like Canady and Worley stand out in camp? We’d be right back where we started.
Given what he flashed last year in limited duty, Jourdan could wind up being an attractive trade candidate around final cuts. That could be the best scenario for all parties; Lewis gets a chance to earn a new contract with a team that has a real need.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that Trevon Diggs and Reggie Robinson are going to be a dynamic duo at cornerback. One or both could be busts.
But one year will likely be too little to make that determination, and come next offseason Dallas will have some assets under cheap rookie deals and other looking for a veteran payday.
The circumstances set up for Jourdan Lewis once again being pass over for other players, and perhaps needing a new team to finally find a real home in the NFL.