Connect with us

Dallas Cowboys

Evaluating the Dallas Cowboys CB Position as a Whole

Published

on

1

After free agency there was no secret what the Dallas Cowboys’ biggest holes were going into the draft. They certainly needed talent along the defensive line, but more importantly they needed bodies at cornerback.

With Orlando Scandrick, Anthony Brown, Nolan Carroll, Leon McFadden, and Jeremiah McKinnon being the only defensive backs under contract, Dallas needed to bring in bodies, but bodies with talent.

The Shopping Spree

The Dallas Cowboys certainly didn’t ignore their secondary this off-season, adding more than enough players to the mix to battle for a spot on the Cowboys roster.

After losing two of their starting Corners to free agency (Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr), the Cowboys signed Nolan Carroll in free agency after spending three years in Philadelphia. Carroll will likely be handed one of the starting cornerback spots due to his experience at the position, the size of his contract, and talent at the position.

The Cowboys also loaded up on CBs in the draft spending three of their nine draft picks on guys to fill Carr and Claiborne’s shoes. Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Marquez White were all drafted by the Cowboys to come in and compete for a starting role and at least a rotational role right away.

The Cowboys CB depth this time last year looked a little like:

  • Morris Claiborne (Signed by NYJ via Free Agency)
  • Brandon Carr (Signed by BAL via Free Agency)
  • Orlando Scandrick (Under Contract by DAL)
  • Anthony Brown (Under Contract by DAL)
  • Leon McFadden (Under Contract by DAL)
  • Deji Olatoye (Signed by ATL)
  • Josh Thomas (Free Agent)
  • Buddy Jackson (Free Agent)
  • Terrance Mitchell (Signed by KC)

The Cowboys Current CB depth looks a lot different:

  • Nolan Carroll (Signed by DAL via Free Agency)
  • Orlando Scandrick (Returning Player)
  • Anthony Brown (Returning Player)
  • Chidobe Awuzie (2nd Round Pick)
  • Jourdan Lewis (3rd Round Pick)
  • Marquez White (6th Round Pick)
  • Duke Thomas (UDFA)
  • Sammy Seamster (Returning Practice Squad Player)
  • Leon McFadden (Returning Player)
  • Jeremiah McKinnon (Returning Player)

As you will notice there are only three familiar names between the two lists. Scandrick, Brown, and McFadden are the only returning players from 2016. Pretty crazy, huh?

Projecting The Cornerback Depth Chart

Now obviously the team will not keep all of the 10 players currently on the roster, they certainly have some sorting to do, but when you take a look at the roster you can all but guarantee Orlando Scandrick, Nolan Carroll, Anthony Brown, Chidobe Awuzie, and Jourdan Lewis are locks to make the final 53 Man Roster.

At most, one more player may make the Dallas Cowboys’ opening day roster bringing the final total of cornerbacks to six. That is where former Florida State Seminole Marquez White must fight to earn his star.

White has some stiff competition ahead of him in Leon McFadden and Jeremiah McKinnon. Both of these players spent time on the active game-day roster last season as bottom-of-the-depth-chart type of guys. White showed flashes of being a very good player at Florida State, but never played at a consistently high level.

What the Cowboys could try to do is stash Marquez White on their practice squad, but that is a big risk to take, which may force them to go ahead and carry six CBs.

CB Position’s Biggest Issue?

When you look at the talent of the players who will be forced to start or contribute early, it leaves me with little worry.

Nolan Carroll – Isn’t a flashy or dominant player, but he does his job and creates turnovers. That’s something this defense has been lacking for a very long time.

Orlando Scandrick – He is what he is. Scandrick is probably a top-10 slot CB in the league.

Anthony Brown – Brown is a question mark. He was great last year as a rookie after being drafted in the sixth round in 2016, and forced into playing time after injuries to Claiborne and Scandrick. Brown responded as well as he could, being a very solid player on the boundary and in the slot. The second year player shows no signs of slowing down and will look to fight for a full-time starting job at OTAs and Training Camp.

We have yet to see how Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis will handle the NFL level of play, but their college film shows that — out of the slot — both players were as good as they come. Both Awuzie and Lewis have the versatility to play as a nickel back or as a base corner along the boundary.

What worries me is that four of the five guys I talked about above are or played better in the slot than they did as a boundary CB. Anthony Brown played at a high level at both and I see him having little to no problem being a very productive starting CB in the Cowboys’ base defense.

Where my worry comes into play most is with Orlando Scandrick and Jourdan Lewis. Orlando Scandrick played on the boundary quite a bit last year and, at times, really struggled. Scandrick plays his best when he’s asked to do one job and that job is line up across from whoever the opposing team’s slot receiver is and stick to him like glue.

Jourdan Lewis actually showed at Michigan that he can play along the boundary and do so at a high level. The problem comes in with Lewis’ size. Lewis is listed at 5’10” 188 lbs but played like a giant at Michigan. If that translates to the NFL then my worries will go away. But as well all know, the NFL is a different beast. Slot receivers in the NFL are bigger, stronger, craftier, and faster.

Can Jourdan Lewis play for the Cowboys like the “alpha dog” he proved he was at Michigan? We’ll have to find out.

Chidobe Awuzie was a Swiss army knife for the Colorado Buffaloes. Awuzie played on the boundary, in the slot, and even played some safety for his former team and played all the positions he was asked to play at an extremely high level. I trust Awuzie’s ability to play on the boundary more due to size, instincts, and his ability to stay close to his man in coverage.

After watching Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr, Barry Church, and J.J. Wilcox all leave in free agency, a lot of Cowboys fans worried how they would rebuild their secondary, or if they could do it at all.

There’s no doubt about it that they brought in the fire power to do so, but they still need to show that they are ready for the bright lights on Sundays. The potential of this secondary is sky-high and every Cowboys fan should be ecstatic to see what they bring to the table in the 2017-2018 NFL Season.

ADVERTISEMENT

Born in 1995, loved Football but more importantly the Dallas Cowboys since day one. Living in Redskins Country flying the Blue and Silver flag as high as possible. Covering the Dallas Cowboys for InsideTheStar.com and CowboysNation.com. Catch me on twitter @connorx147 !

Advertisement
2 Comments
  • EverybodyTalks

    Instead of carrying 5 Safeties, you could carry 4. Those would be Xavier Wood, Kevon Frazier, Jeff Heath and Byron Jones. Now you can carry 6 Cbs (because you have 3 rookies). Your Swiss Army knife, Awuzie, as you stated, could play safety in a pinch. Byron Jones did the same thing his rookie year. You keep 6 LBs and 9 for the Defensive line. That’s 25 on Defense. That leaves 25 on offense, plus K,P and LS…53 !!

  • dallas1966

    The Cowboys secondary will be a much needed improvement from past Cowboys seasons, simply because of the infusion of youth. Remember the San Francisco 49’ers, started 3 rookies, in their secondary, in 1981, one became a Hall of Famer (Ronnie Lott). The Cowboys did the same that year as well, starting 2 undrafed free agents, the secondary. With the great Everson Walls, leading the Cowboys in interceptions, as a rookie, in 1981.

    I expect the Cowboys defense, to play head and shoulders above what the defense accomplish last few seasons, simply because of the infusion of youth, which will be playing faster and stronger, than prior years.

Player News

Sean’s Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat

Sean Martin

Published

on

Sean's Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat

The Cowboys have just one more game to get through without their star running back Ezekiel Elliott, but Alfred Morris and Rod Smith deserve a ton of credit for the way they’ve been able to fill in out of the backfield for Zeke Elliott. Throughout the time Elliott has missed though, the Cowboys have lacked the explosive plays on offense that he can provide – until Rod Smith was given an opportunity last week at the Giants.

Smith complimented Morris exceptionally well, running with quickness and power to prove his case for more of a role on offense behind Elliott moving forward. It was the Ohio State product’s consecutive touchdowns of 81 yards through the air and 15 yards on the ground that sealed the game for the Cowboys in week 14.

Here is a closer look at Rod Smith’s performance from last week in this latest Sean’s Scout.

Smith3 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

 

The Cowboys offensive line was dominant as always against a tough New York defensive front, and this first play is a great look at their execution in space and on the move. Rod Smith’s decisiveness when hitting the hole with speed and balance was the first thing I noticed on the game tape.

The best thing Smith does on this play comes at the second level, where running backs can truly make a difference in Dallas. As RG Zack Martin rides his man out of the play entirely, he gets in front of Smith who is seeing the play develop straight ahead. With his long strides, Smith is able to smoothly get through traffic and continue accelerating up field through arm tackles for a big gain.

Smith2 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

 

These same traits are seen with Rod Smith as a pass catcher – something he does effortlessly to also help fill the void left by Elliott. Watch how quickly Smith commits to his angle up the field after catching this dump pass from Dak Prescott, attacking a defender that has the angle on him after the catch.

Rod subtly leans to the right just enough to make the defender hesitate long enough to allow his burst to evade him and gain extra yards falling forward.

Smith4 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

 

Smith essentially does the same thing without the ball in his hands here, on his 81 yard catch and run for a touchdown. Setting up the safety out of the slot to be beat across his face, Smith separates from him at the stem and then does a great job getting depth on his route into the vacated middle of the field. With blockers to help him reach the end zone, Smith turns this busted coverage by the Giants into the game’s biggest play.

Smith1 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

 

This last play I chose to show is probably the least well-blocked attempt for Smith out of the ones in this Sean’s Scout, but there is still a lot to like about what Rod does here with the ball in his hands.

The Giants might be a two-win football team, but they still have marquee players up front, particularly DE Olivier Vernon. Smith does well here to keep his feet moving as he cuts this play to the backside. Vernon does well to limit the potential gain on this play by staying away from the block of Jason Witten, as Smith is taken down by Darian Thompson.

The numbers the Giants had to commit to stopping the run was still a huge reason why Prescott had a career day throwing the football, and Rod Smith’s readiness to step in at RB was a deciding factor in getting Dallas to 7-6.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Proving to be one of the Dallas Cowboys most valuable players, considering his cost (under contract through 2018), and ability to contribute on special teams and offense, Rod Smith is the perfect RB3 for this team.

Smith is not elite in any one area, and is not a prototypical RB from a physical standpoint, but his contributions as a runner, pass catcher, and blocker could remain critical to the Cowboys’ hopes of reaching the playoffs behind this offense – even when Ezekiel Elliott is back in the fold.

Tell us what you think about “Sean’s Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

ADVERTISEMENT

Continue Reading

Dallas Cowboys

Rod Smith Vs Alfred Morris: Who’s The Cowboys Real RB1?

Brian Martin

Published

on

Rod Smith Vs Alfred Morris: Who's Cowboys' Real RB1?

The Dallas Cowboys are less than a week away from welcoming back their talented Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott, but until then they still have a game to play against the Oakland Raiders. That means we will have one more week of Alfred Morris and Rod Smith handling the workload, but which RB is sitting at the top of the Cowboys depth chart?

Unfortunately, this is exactly the type of decision that can end up winning or losing a game. Both Alfred Morris and Rod Smith have had their moments during Ezekiel Elliott’s absence, but neither one of them have really distanced themselves from the other. So, should Rod Smith or Alfred Morris receive the majority of the workload against the Raiders Sunday?

A Case for Rod Smith

RB Rod Smith and QB Dak PrescottRod Smith might just have had is coming out party last week against the New York Giants. Against their divisional rival, in what was a must win game for the Cowboys, Smith rushed for 47 yards on six carries and added another 113 yards through the air on five catches. He also found himself in the end zone twice, once on a rushing touchdown and the other on a receiving touchdown.

You may or may not agree, but I believe that “Lightning” Rod Smith was largely responsible for igniting the Cowboys offense and helping them pull away from the Giants last Sunday. He accounted for over 160 total yards and two touchdowns by himself and didn’t receive the majority of his playing time until later in the game.

Rod Smith certainly has traits that make him a more desirable RB over Alfred Morris. First off, he is a more complete back. He is better in pass protection and at catching the ball out of the backfield. But, he is also starting to show up in the running game and is averaging 4.5 yards a carry this season. His size (6’3″, 235) also makes him a better short yardage back, although I wish he would deliver more of a blow at the end of his runs.

A Case for Alfred Morris

RB Alfred MorrisAlthough there’s nothing particularly special that stands out about Alfred Morris, he has proven time and time again he is more than capable of carrying the workload. He has received the majority of the workload during Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension and has performed pretty well. In fact, he is averaging 5 yards a carry this season, which is better than any other RB on the Cowboys roster, including Elliott.

Alfred Morris has looked pretty good this season and is playing with more of a spring in his step than I have seen from him in probably his entire career. Last Sunday against the Giants he received the the majority of the workload and finished the game with 19 carries for 62 yards. Not particularly spectacular, but the week prior he did rush for 127 yards on 27 carries in the victory over the Washington Redskins.

Like I mentioned earlier, Morris is a tried-and-true RB in the NFL and is at his best when he can continue to pound the rock and wear down opposing defenses. That is what he did against the Redskins, but he has his limitations as well. Despite his years in the league, he still struggles in pass protection and is limited in what he can do in the passing game. But, he does seem to have the trust of the Cowboys coaching staff.

✭✭✭✭✭

Personally, I would like to see more of Rod Smith this coming Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. I really like what I’ve seen from him in both the running game and in the passing game. I just think he is a more dangerous and versatile weapon then Alfred Morris. His presence on the field really opens up what the Cowboys can do offensively.

I don’t mean any disrespect to Alfred Morris at all. I just think that Rod Smith has proven he is a more dangerous offensive weapon of the two. I don’t know if the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff will agree or not, but I truly believe Rod Smith could once again be the X factor against the Oakland Raiders.

Of course, both Rod Smith and Alfred Morris will have to take the back seat once Ezekiel Elliott returns. So, this discussion really only has any credibility for this week in yet another must win situation against the Oakland Raiders.

Who do you like better… Rod Smith or Alfred Morris?

ADVERTISEMENT

Continue Reading

Player News

La’el Collins’ Toughness And Availability Earning High Praise

Brian Martin

Published

on

La'el Collins' Toughness And Availability Earning High Praise 1

The decision by the Dallas Cowboys to move La’el Collins from left guard to right tackle was met by some skepticism by quite a few members of Cowboys Nation during the off-season. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was one of those skeptical of the move, but I’m not afraid to admit he has exceeded my expectations.

In all honesty, I always believed that La’el Collins’ best position in the NFL is on the interior of the offense of line as a guard. I thought he could use his strength and athleticism to his advantage when working in a phone booth against slower and less athletic defensive tackles. That’s not to say I didn’t think he would make a good right tackle, I just thought he had Pro Bowl potential as a guard.

Strangely enough, Collins has probably put together a Pro Bowl caliber season in his first season starting at the right tackle position for the Cowboys. He has become an upgrade over the previous starter Doug Free, and is really starting to earn high praise from the brass. Stephen Jones in particular has been impressed with Collins, especially considering how he has played after missing two full weeks of practice.

Mark Lane on Twitter

DallasCowboys COO Stephen Jones told @1053thefan La’el Collins has answered the bell after his contract extension.

I personally agree with everything Stephen Jones said about La’el Collins. I’ve really enjoyed watching his progression this season, but I have been really impressed how he played the last two weeks after missing so much practice.

You might not of known, but Collins has missed two full weeks of practice due to a herniated disc in his back. This is put his availability to play against the Washington Redskins and New York Giants in jeopardy, but somehow he has toughened up and played considerably well.

This unfortunately will be something he has to continue to battle through the rest of the season, but I’m not going to bet against him playing. He absolutely makes this offensive line better and I would hate to see Chaz Green or Byron Bell back on the field after the way they played as feel-ins.

La’el Collins has without a doubt earned my respect and I think it’s about time we all recognize the player he is turning into. I know the Dallas Cowboys appreciate all that he does and believe that his recent contract extension is money well spent.

What do you think about La’el Collins?

ADVERTISEMENT

Continue Reading

Reader Survey

Want to help make Inside The Star better?

We’re collecting feedback from our readers about the site. It only takes <2 minutes to complete, and can be done from any device.

> Take the survey now

Don’t worry, your information will not be shared with anyone but me (Bryson T.).

Advertisement

From Our Partners

Advertisement
Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here

Trending