The Dallas Cowboys already have a lot of young talent at the cornerback position. But with two key players close to free agency, it’s an area where they could still consider adding a player in next week’s 2019 NFL Draft.
Dallas has assembled a solid group at corner with the use of several higher draft picks in recent years. They spent a first on Byron Jones in 2015 and then their second and third picks in 2017 on Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis.
Also in the mix is Anthony Brown, a sixth-round pick in 2016 who has proven to be a true steal. At this point, one could argue that he is tied with Awuzie’s as the team’s second-best CB behind Jones.
Unfortunately, those affordable rookie contracts don’t last forever. Byron’s has already expired; he’s currently set to play 2019 under the fifth-year option. Brown’s rookie deal expires this season, meaning both players could be unrestricted free agents in 2020.
The Cowboys have already expressed interest in re-signing Byron Jones to an extension, and they should after his Pro Bowl season last year. But a big contract for Byron means less money for the other guys, who will all be looking for new deals over the next two offseasons.
That said, these are situations that the Cowboys can resolve in other ways between now and 2021. There’s no real pressure to add more CB talent now given the timetable.
A far more significant factor is the way that Jourdan Lewis appears to currently fit into Dallas’ scheme.
After an impressive rookie season, Lewis surprisingly slid down the depth chart last year. He was the team’s fourth CB, only appearing on 18% of Dallas’ total defensive snaps. The other three players we’ve mentioned were all at 67% or higher.
One key reason for this may have been the arrival of Kris Richard as Defensive Backs Coach. He brought a new philosophy about the size and playing style of cornerbacks which Lewis doesn’t seem to fit.
Even if Jourdan isn’t valued much in Dallas anymore, he could still have worth elsewhere in the league. After all, Lewis was considered a potential first-round talent in 2017 but slid to the third after some concerns over legal issues.
With two years left on a cheap rookie deal, Lewis could be very attractive to other teams in a potential trade. If the Cowboys did move him, that would open the door for them to spend a pick this year on a new CB prospect.
That doesn’t mean Dallas would spend a high pick at corner. After all, they still have their top three in place for this season. Plus, as we’ve seen recently with Brown and Xavier Woods, the Cowboys have been able to find solid defensive backs in the later rounds of the draft.
That gives us an “If… Then…” situation when it comes to cornerback and this 2019 draft. If the Cowboys stick with Jourdan Lewis then I could see them not draft any corners, or at least waiting until the late rounds for some intriguing developmental prospect.
But if they do trade Lewis away, Dallas could spent as high as a fourth or fifth-round pick to help fill the depth chart and hopefully prepare for the upcoming free agency of their current players.
So, that leave us with two probability scenarios:
If Jourdan Lewis stays…
Draft Likelihood: 20%
Projected Round: *6th-7th
* The Cowboys don’t currently have a 6th-round pick, but could acquire one in a potential trade.
If Jourdan Lewis gets traded…
Draft Likelihood: 70%
Projected Round: *4th-5th
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