The 2017 NFL Draft was defined by the Cowboys re-tooling their entire defensive backfield. Chidobe Awuzie in the second round, Jourdan Lewis in the third round, and Xavier Woods and Marquez White on day three headlined a draft class that most were disappointed by due to the use of their first round pick.
In their rookie seasons Awuzie, Lewis, and Woods all contributed in different ways, showing promise and giving fans excitement for how the group could grow together.
In their Sophomore seasons, two of the three made strides and became full-time starters. Awuzie and Woods are thought to be cornerstones of an impressive young Cowboys defense going forward, but Jourdan Lewis has sort of fallen off the map. Though he played well when given chances in 2018, Lewis’ slot cornerback job was pretty much stolen by Anthony Brown during the preseason.
Most have attributed Lewis’ lack of playing time to his measurables, as he doesn’t fit what defensive backs coach Kris Richard typically looks for in his cornerbacks. Lewis is thought of as being too short, though his arm length is better than given credit for.
Last week, Ricahrd spoke to the media to address these claims. And while he acknowledged that he does tend to have benchmarks for his cornerbacks, he went on to call Jourdan Lewis an “exception” to the rule.
Secondary coach Kris Richard on 5-10 CB Jourdan Lewis: He just really comes in and competes. He’s not limited by any means, right. …You take a player like Jourdan Lewis and he’s an exception. …He has a tenacity, a competitive nature & a tremendous spirit about him.
This, obviously, was encouraging to hear from Richard. Jourdan Lewis became somewhat of a fan favorite during his rookie year, and his game-clinching interception against the New Orleans Saints last season only elevated him in the fans’ minds.
The excitement is earned, though, as Lewis has done nothing but shown promise when called upon during his young career. The question becomes, though, how will Richard look to use Lewis in his defense?
In 2017, Jourdan Lewis played primarily on the perimeter as an outside corner. But with Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie emerging into those roles, there doesn’t seem to be much room for Lewis on the outside. Anthony Brown still resides in the slot for the Cowboys, which would make Lewis the 4th cornerback on the depth chart.
Jourdan Lewis could be used to cover those speciality offensive weapons, like when he was asked to cover Alvin Kamara on pass plays against the Saints last season. But is that really getting the most out of the player?
It’s a good problem to have, but the Cowboys may struggle to keep all of their young corners happy about their playing time moving forward.