The Cowboys approach to both Free Agency and the NFL Draft proved a few things to me. For one, they think this team is a legitimate contender that can make a run for NFC supremacy in 2016. But more importantly for this write-up, the organization doesn’t seem to see the secondary as a true place of weakness. Or, if they do, they didn’t do much to strengthen it.
I would agree that Dallas’ defensive backfield falls further down their hierarchy of needs when considering position groups such as the defensive line, but I did feel like it needed to be addressed in some way.
Dallas waited until round six to draft secondary help, snagging Purdue Boilermakers Cornerback Anthony Brown and Central Michigan Chippewas Safety Kavon Frazier.
Being that he was selected first of the two players, this breakdown will focus on Anthony Brown.
Normally when I dive into these film breakdowns, I like to watch at least four games of the player I am studying. I don’t have access to normal All-22 game film, so I must rely on DraftBreakdown.com, which provides cut-ups of nearly every prospect in the draft.
Draft Breakdown only has one game uploaded for Anthony Brown, against Nebraska, so I was not able to fulfill my usual four game rule. So, take this into account when reading my evaluation of the player.
Due to my lack of game film on Brown, I first want to get into his measurables and combine testing.
At only 5’11” 192 pounds Brown put up 19 bench press reps of 225 pounds, third highest for defensive backs. He also ran the 40 yard dash in 4.35 seconds, which was the second fastest time at the combine.
The Cowboys entire draft class focused on athleticism and versatility, and Brown possesses both.
While I normally render combine numbers pretty useless, I think that Brown’s numbers actually do say something about him as a player. Standing less than 6 feet tall, he doesn’t have great size, but he showed both at the combine and on film that he does have good strength.
Only one Cowboys defensive back on their roster prior to the draft was under 6 feet tall, but Dallas made an exception for Brown. His combination of speed and strength clearly played a role in that decision.
I know at least two teams that had Day 2 grades on Purdue CB Anthony Brown. He goes in 6th to Dallas. @NFLonFOX
Scouts and insiders who have access to much more game film of Brown than I do seem to think that he was worthy of a second or third round selection. So, the idea that Dallas drafted him in the sixth should excite you.
But, let’s finally get to the tape.
I don’t love Brown in man coverage. As I will touch on later, he has a tendency to open his hips the wrong way and get beat at times.
But on plays like these he can make up for what he lacks in man coverage with his speed. While he is in bad position when the ball is released, he quickly makes up ground and forces the incompletion.
This play perfectly demonstrates Anthony Brown.
He doesn’t get his head around and it doesn’t look all that pretty, but in the end he uses his speed and some ball skills to steal the ball right out of the receiver’s hands.
It might not be pretty, but it worked.
This was Brown’s third interception of the day, and in my opinion his most impressive. In man coverage here, Brown keeps his eyes on the quarterback while still sticking with his man. He then jumps in front of the other receiver, who he wasn’t even supposed to be covering, for the interception.
Like I said, I don’t love Brown in man, but in zone coverage he can really thrive. On this play, Brown sits in his zone patiently, reads the quarterback who is under duress, and comes up with a big interception.
The negatives for Brown start with his hips. He had trouble in the Nebraska game a few times when transitioning from backpedaling to sprinting because he either flipped his hips the wrong way, or he had bad footwork which slowed him down.
I’d also like to see Brown become a better tackler. In his case, it all starts with being more physical, breaking down in the open field better, and driving his hips through the ball carrier. He shows it at times, but he was far too inconsistent.
This play is the perfect example of where he needs to keep his feet, break down, and tackle the receiver. Instead, he dives and misses, resulting in a touchdown.
Looking at the numbers, Brown gave up 17 touchdowns on 162 targets. He will have to improve on that percentage at the next level to be successful.
The Cowboys got themselves an athletic corner who can run with anyone in Anthony Brown.
While he has some issues with tackling at times, he isn’t afraid to stick his nose in there and try to make the play, which with some corners is half the battle. Brown should also make an impact on Special Teams from day one.
Overall, I like the selection of Anthony Brown, especially in the sixth round.