The cornerback position is the Wild Wild West for the 2020 Dallas Cowboys. No other group on the roster has more uncertainty and openness for competition from the starting jobs right down through the depth chart. That makes CB arguably the most intriguing position of all during this year's training camp.
Byron Jones, easily the team's top CB the last two years, took the money and ran to Miami in free agency. With veteran roleplayer Anthony Brown's contract also expiring last year, Dallas started the offseason with just Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis as meaningful corners under contract.
Neither Awuzie or Lewis has lived up to their 2017 draft hype. Taken with 2nd and 3rd-round picks, respectively (and Lewis only dropped because of a legal issue), both have been inconsistent and failed to establish clear long-term value to the organization. They now enter this final year of their rookie deals with a lot to prove.
That's really the theme across the board for these Cowboys corners; something to prove. It applies to rookies Trevon Diggs and Reggie Robinson as they hope to quickly earn major roles on the team. It applies to veteran Daryl Worley, who Dallas signed to a bargain deal but has the experience to be a major asset. It goes for C.J. Goodwin, trying to prove he can be more than just a special teams guy. It goes for all of the young, lesser-known prospects trying to fight their way onto the roster.
The one guy entering camp with a degree of assurance is Anthony Brown. Re-signed to a three-year deal, Brown has the experience and versatility to cover any position. He's not special but he's solid and a perfect example of quality depth.
With a new coaching staff in town, carryover prospects such as Deante Burton and Chris Westry could be helped or hurt with the change. The road to making it to the roster could be easier with a “blank slate” at the position, but the new coaches may also be looking for traits that the last regime wasn't.
CB Pre-Camp Rankings
- Chidobe Awuzie vs Jourdan Lewis vs Anthony Brown
- Trevon Diggs vs Daryl Worley vs Reggie Robinson
- C.J. Goodwin
- Deante Burton vs Saivion Smith vs Chris Westry
Honestly, you could take those top six players and just about put them all on the same level. If you told me that Diggs, Worley, and Robinson were the top-three corners in Week One I wouldn't be shocked.
Still, Awuzie, Lewis, and Brown get the early nod as the incumbents. Perhaps new DB Coach Maurice Linguist will do a better job of coaching to Chido and Jourdan's strengths instead of trying to make them be something they're not.
Early reports from camp indicate that there's already a steady rotation between all of these players. It's truly an open competition and that bodes well for the intensity in camp and what it should produce at the start of the year.
C.J. Goodwin is interesting to keep an eye on. While he's not much of a CB he's been Dallas' best special teams player and could stick around on that alone. However, if Reggie Robinson shines in that area like he did in college, than Goodwin could be edged out.
Burton, Smith, and Westry are all intriguing in their own ways. Burton has good size and real-game experience. Smith was a big-time recruit in college who went pro too early. And Westry is hoping to add some NFL game to his 6'4″ frame.
Any of these players has the potential to make noise loud enough to get onto the roster. But given the seven players ahead of them, they probably need an injury or a performance meltdown somewhere to find an opening.