I’ve long-held that rookies under Jason Garrett have a slim chance of starting the season as a starter for the Dallas Cowboys. As I wrote earlier in the offseason, there are players who typically have cracked the starting lineup their rookie seasons, but typically — outside of Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and the offensive linemen — it isn’t until later in the season.
As Jess Haynie pointed out, the third cornerback spot is up for grabs. In today’s NFL, with the use of three and four-wide receiver sets, the third cornerback is a starter. The Dallas Cowboys made heavy investments into the defensive side of the ball, but it’s likely that only one player from the 2017 rookie class will be a starter come week one.
Mostly related to circumstance, Awuzie, the second round pick out of Colorado, will push for the starting line up right away.
It’s anticipated that Nolan Carroll will be suspended to start the season following a DWI arrest during the offseason.
Jourdan Lewis will miss the beginning of training camp because of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge. He will be in court this week, thus putting him behind the curve of the rest of the cornerback group.
With Carroll likely to miss time and Lewis missing the start of training camp, that leaves Awuzie with a sizable opportunity to seize a job when camp breaks at the end of August.
Chido’s already impressed the team with his intelligence, ball skills, and versatility — he can play the slot, outside, and even safety. If he is able to build on his already strong offseason, there is nothing keeping him from being at least the third corner on passing downs.
With Orlando Scandrick and Anthony Brown filling two of the top three corner slots on the depth chart, there is room for the play-making Awuzie to assert himself. In fact, as Scandrick enters the season at age 30, the team could decide to save him for pass down situations and run with Brown and Awuzie in the base defense.
Cornerbacks rarely age well and with many teams employing speedy slot receivers, Scandrick may be kept on the sideline to stay fresh for those all-important passing situations.
Under Jason Garrett, competition has been the fire that has fueled the development and depth of the roster, and Awuzie will compete for a significant role.
Marquez White is another name to keep an eye on as the Cowboys get into training camp. He has some raw skills that, if developed properly, could turn him into a significant contributor for the team. Read what Staff Writer Sean Martin had to say about White.
Like I’ve said before, I’ve been reluctant to pencil any of the rookies in as a starter, but circumstance is convincing me otherwise. Chidobe Awuzie will be a starting cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys when they open their season against the New York Giants week one.