Still early in the 2017 NFL Draft evaluation process, many in Cowboys Nation (by my own estimation, glancing at Twitter for some short breaks in between obsessively trying to improve this team's pass rush in the Draft) have gone through their own ever-changing thought process of what position the Dallas Cowboys need to focus on with their 28th overall pick. Recently, I've been leaning towards the Cowboys choosing from this deep class of cornerbacks to get the best value in the first round – improving an already strong and young secondary.
If the Cowboys decide to wait on a cornerback though, opting to assess the talent at the position remaining on their board in the second or third round, Michigan CB Jourdan Lewis (a Senior Bowl participant) could become a very exciting addition to Rod Marinelli's defense for 2017 and beyond.
Jourdan Lewis is a smooth athlete with effortless speed that is fundamentally sound in his pedal. This is the foundation for a competitive defensive back that has played as both a boundary corner and slot corner, consistently sticking to his man with an above-average understanding of route development and breaks.
This quote and film clip comes from my full Slant Sports scouting report on CB Jourdan Lewis, and nicely puts into perspective how the Cowboys could take advantage of his athleticism. At the college level, Lewis clearly showed a desire to get in the face of opposing receivers and stick to them in coverage on film, but at the next level – and in Dallas' scheme – playing him off the line will only help him.
…he has the ability to remain in contact with them (wide receivers) on inside breaking routes in addition to stop routes that force him to rally back to the football.
Lewis' speed is another major positive trait for a cornerback that actually measured in at the Senior Bowl with slightly better numbers than expected – primarily coming away from NFL coaches and scouts with a 31″ wingspan.
Having arms under 30″ is a red flag like none other for defensive back prospects, and Lewis cleared this threshold while also coming away with a height of 5100 – another number that he should accept as a positive.
These numbers are all a win for Lewis…
If given a chance with the Cowboys, I think that Lewis' combination of effortless speed, athleticism, ball-skills, and range would make him an ideal slot corner. Currently Orlando Scandrick on the Dallas roster, Lewis could be a younger, developmental replacement for a 30-year old Scandrick as soon as 2017 – with the ability to also bounce outside and play as a boundary cornerback, much like now second-year player Anthony Brown.
…you see Lewis in the above clip trusting his recovery speed a bit too much as he also gets caught with his eyes in the wrong place.
This clip and scouting note may have gone under the “Weaknesses” section for Jourdan Lewis in my full scouting report, but backing him off the line of scrimmage with the Cowboys while still allowing him to play in man can only greatly improve his ability to carry routes and get his eyes in the right spot.
When it comes down to it, the Dallas Cowboys are likely far closer to building an elite NFL passing defense through the secondary than they are thanks to any defensive ends – not including the ones that will fly off the board well before the 28th overall pick.
Jourdan Lewis won't cost the Cowboys this pick, but if they are committed to covering across the board and making it difficult for any quarterback, even with time in the pocket, to hit on big plays against them, Will McClay and Stephen Jones will consider Lewis in the second or third round (where I have him on my 2017 NFL Draft Board).
Here's to greatly improving the Dallas Cowboys defense to make a playoff run next season, whether it is with star free agents, first round EDGE talent, or in this case an ultra-competitive cornerback with a chance to excel in this team's current scheme, adding needed depth and value to America's Team the second he steps onto the field.