This Spring, the Dallas Cowboys spent considerable time and resources adding to the depth and talent of their cornerback room. In total, through the draft and free agency, they added seven cornerbacks to the roster (including re-signings of Anthony Brown and C.J. Goodwin).
One oft he reasons the Cowboys put so much emphasis on bringing in a bunch of guys is the loss of Byron Jones. In 2021, Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis will be free agents and could be out the door. Lastly, with a new defensive philosophy that puts a greater emphasis on playing press-man coverage, the Cowboys had to go out and find cornerbacks that could do just that.
When the Dallas Cowboys added former Carolina Panthers and Oakland Raiders cornerback Daryl Worley, it was met with a collective, “another one?” And while it seems they are flush with corners, Worley brings some position flexibility that could help to fill the void left by Byron Jones in free agency.
Per Pro Football Reference, Daryl Worley played fewer than 87% of the snaps just once in 2019 and 13 times played more than 90% of the defensive snaps. Per Pro Football Focus, he primarily lined up as a “wide corner,” playing 69% of his snaps on the outside. Worley played 9% of his snaps as a box safety and 7.5% of his snaps as the slot corner. He also logged 34 snaps at free safety, which came closer to the end of the year when the Raiders were attempting to evaluate other players at cornerback.
He played 20% of his snaps as a safety or in the slot. He even registered 14 snaps as an outside linebacker per Pro Football Focus.
For comparison’s sake, let’s look at Byron Jones snap distribution. Jones lined up as an outside corner 73% of the time, in the box 8% of the time, and as a slot corner 4.7% of the time in 2019. He didn’t take any snaps at safety last year, but we know he has that kind of versatility.
Daryl Worley may not be as talented, but he’s undoubtedly as versatile as Byron Jones and has a similar ability to match up against tight ends. In 2019, Worley allowed just nine receptions on 13 targets for only 55 yards. Yes, that’s a 69% completion rate against Worley, but those completions averaged just 6.11 yards per reception. He also didn’t allow a touchdown to a tight end, and he played in the AFC West with Travis Kelce, Hunter Henry, and Noah Fant.
In 2020, the Dallas Cowboys face George Kittle, Mark Andrews, Zach Ertz, Evan Engram, Austin Hooper, and Greg Olsen. Each of those players has a chance to be a problem for the Dallas Cowboys defense. Having a player like Worley who can keep tight ends from beating them for big plays is enormous.
He’s solid against bigger receivers, but where he struggles is against wide receivers with speed who win down the field. Tyreek Hill, A.J. Brown, Robby Anderson, and DeMarcus Robinson all had significant gains against Worley. However, on the season, he allowed just 5.7 yards after the catch per reception.
Worley is still young. He turned 25 in February and has already played four seasons in the NFL. He’s far from a perfect player, in individual matchups, he could be quite useful for the Dallas Cowboys. Like Jones, Daryl Worley could be a moveable piece that they deploy against tight ends or some of the bigger, physical players in the league.
Daryl Worley can play all over the secondary. That ability unlocks options for Dallas Cowboys Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan to mix and match his secondary week-to-week depending on the team they play. He may not see more than 1,000 snaps in 2020 like he saw last year, but there will be weeks when he is heavily featured.