The Dallas Cowboys commitment to turning over their secondary was realized fully at last year’s NFL Draft. With the team grabbing two starters in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis, the two second-year players are now set to play with Byron Jones at cornerback in Kris Richard’s defense. This retool unexpectedly began the year before though, as the Cowboys stole Purdue’s Anthony Brown with the 189th overall pick.
Brown was a sensation in his first year, providing the hope that the Cowboys could find more young cover players like him. Brown defended eight passes as a rotational cornerback, playing with the type of ball skills and speed that the Cowboys defense had been missing.
Regressing a bit to his draft status in 2017, Brown was frequently turned around on the outside and beat over the top. It was his struggles that opened the door for Awuzie to earn a starting outside CB spot after returning from injury.
New Passing Game Coordinator and Secondary Coach Kris Richard has already earned plenty of respect on the Cowboys staff. His experience speaks for itself, as Richard was the architect to the Seahawks ‘Legion of Boom’.
A Super Bowl winning defense built with size and length on the back end, the prospects of Awuzie and Jones lining up on the boundary for Dallas is incredibly exciting. For a defense that will still pride themselves on keeping passes in front of them, these two outside cornerbacks are hard to run away from or stretch the field against.
Where Anthony Brown was able to regain some confidence last year was in the slot. As an inside defender, Brown trusted his quickness and technique more to give the Cowboys value down the stretch. This is also where Jourdan Lewis has a chance to become one of the best players at the position across the league, starring as a Nickel player at Michigan.
Lewis’ play on the outside may have caused Cowboys Nation to forget about just how much better he sticks to slot receivers, with the beloved “position flex” to line up anywhere and compete.
With so much depth to address elsewhere on the roster, Lewis and Brown may be competing for the same spot – with Jourdan’s already secured. While it is still very possible that Richard sees enough in Anthony Brown to keep him around for 2018 and beyond, roster spots in Dallas are only getting harder to earn.
As we begin the incredibly long process of projecting the Cowboys eventual 53 man roster, Anthony Brown feels like one of the bigger names that could miss the cut. There is plenty of promise left in Brown’s game, but in two off seasons worth of work the Cowboys have found more blue chip players in the secondary.
Considering the numbers the Cowboys keep at CB could be a direct reflection of the depth they want at DL and LB, Rod Marinelli’s defense is going to look better on paper than it likely ever has in Dallas.
Whether or not this includes third-year Cornerback Anthony Brown is going to be something I’ll be very interested to keep track of.