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NFC East Position Outlook: The Cornerbacks

While football pundits tend to refer to the middle linebacker as the “quarterback of the defense,” no defensive position group sees the quarterback-like criticism from fans like the cornerbacks do. As soon as an offense gets their passing game going, everyone wants to jump on the corners, wondering what could possibly be going wrong with the coverage. Sometimes, the criticism isn’t warranted and is delivered by not-so-knowledgeable fans. But other times, this heavy criticism points to just how important having formidable cornerbacks is. With that being said, let’s take a look at the cornerback groups of the NFC East.

Kevin Brady



Cowboys Headlines - Who’s excited to see Orlando Scandrick again!?

While football pundits tend to refer to the middle linebacker as the "quarterback of the defense," no defensive position group sees the quarterback-like criticism from fans like the cornerbacks do.

As soon as an offense gets their passing game going, everyone wants to jump on the corners, wondering what could possibly be going wrong with the coverage.

Sometimes, the criticism isn't warranted and is delivered by not-so-knowledgeable fans. But other times, this heavy criticism points to just how important having formidable cornerbacks is.

With that being said, let's take a look at the cornerback groups of the NFC East.

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Headlines - Is the Defensive Backfield still a concern? 2

Nov 15, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne (24) defends Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) during the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Fans love to hate the Cowboys secondary. And oh have they given us reason to do so over the last few seasons.

There is reason to believe things are looking up for this group, however.

Brandon Carr, who has been much maligned for being overpaid, took a pay-cut of sorts this offseason after what I would call his best season as a Cowboy in 2015. No, he isn't the shutdown corner that many had hoped for when he signed his blockbuster deal, but he is a solid player who can and will contribute.

Morris Claiborne is sticking around for at least one more season in Dallas. Similar to Carr, Claiborne had his best year as a Cowboy last season, and will be looking to build on that for 2016.

The biggest reason for the optimism around this group is the return of certified-beast Orlando Scandrick. While he missed the entire 2015 season with a torn ACL, Scandrick is undoubtedly the best cornerback on the roster, and was sorely missed last season.

My eye is also on sixth round pick Anthony Brown out of Purdue. I loved the tape I was able to watch on him and expect him to see a ton of time throughout this season.

Philadelphia EaglesCowboys Headlines - NFC East Position Outlook: The Cornerbacks

The Eagles defense was a disaster a year ago. A disaster which seemed to correlate perfectly with the demise of big time free agent cornerback Byron Maxwell.

Maxwell disappointed Philadelphia with his play, and was traded to Miami this offseason.

Now, the Eagles cornerbacks are surrounded by questions due to youth and lack of familiarity with the team. Regardless of these problems, I do think the Eagles cornerback group will be improved in 2016.

Eric Rowe and Nolan Carroll return to Philadelphia, and I expect them to make nice strides under new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.

The Eagles also added former Buffalo Bills corner Leodis McKelvin, who is slated to be the team's number one cornerback.

New York GiantsCowboys Headlines - NFC East Position Outlook: The Cornerbacks 1

The Giants approach to free agency was to spend, spend, and then spend some more.

This excessive spending yielded the Giants former Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins. While we all disagree with the years and dollar amount which will be coming Jenkins' way, he is a solid corner and an upgrade over their 2015 group.

New York invested in another cornerback in the first round of this years draft, selecting Ohio State Buckeyes corner Eli Apple. Similar to Jenkins, most "football people" agree that the Giants spent too much by drafting Apple 10th overall, but I do expect him to be a solid professional corner.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie returns, and will more than likely be slated as the number two cornerback week 1 against the Cowboys.

Washington Redskins Cowboys Headlines - NFC East Position Outlook: The Cornerbacks 2

Though the Giants added two good cornerbacks this offseason, no team made the absolute splash at the position like the Washington Redskins did.

The NFL world erupted when Washington decided to make former Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman the highest paid corner in all of football.

Norman automatically improves this group and this defense as a whole, but the Redskins weren't done there.

They then decided to draft Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Fuller, who many thought would have been taken in the early second round, fell to the third mostly due to injury concerns. But if he can remain healthy, he will carve out a nice career for himself in the league.

Veteran Deangelo Hall also returns for 2016, and Bashaud Breeland looks to continue his improvement in his third NFL season.

Who's the best?Cowboys Headlines - NFC East Position Outlook: The Cornerbacks 3

Similar to the linebacker groups, this one is tough to call. Each team has their own reasonable claim to the throne, and I also don't see any of these groups as too elite to deny.

I like what Dallas and Philadelphia have to offer, but I still have too many questions about individual players in each group to call them the "best," even in this division.

Washington made the biggest addition during the offseason, but Hall and Breeland aren't exactly studs. So while they are strong at the top, their next two-to-three corners are average at best.

That leaves the New York Giants.

No, I don't agree with the money they shelled out for Janoris Jenkins, and I don't love the value of selecting Eli Apple at 10th overall. While they may not live up to their hype or contracts, they will both be solid additions and formidable corners.

Then you throw in Rodgers-Cromartie, and the New York Giants have the best cornerback group in the NFC East.

Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and am currently a college student. Lets get going.

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Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?

Sean Martin



Despite Late Push in Year One, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See the Field in 2018? 1
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

It feels like ages ago that the Dallas Cowboys spent the 28th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft on Michigan Defensive End Taco Charlton. Perhaps this is a result of the constant distancing fans have made from this unpopular pick, or the corresponding moves the Cowboys have made at DE since drafting Charlton.

These moves include using the franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence after seeing him explode for 14.5 sacks, spending a fourth round pick this year on Kansas' Dorance Armstrong, and seeing Randy Gregory reinstated in time for training camp.

Across the entirety of the Cowboys roster, there will be plenty of "odd men out" that miss the cut down to 53 players. Defensive end remains one of the most cluttered spots on the current 90 man roster however.

Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?

Dallas Cowboys DE Taco Charlton, DT Maliek Collins (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

Prior to establishing the depth the Cowboys now have up front on defense, they did Taco no favors by starting his career at right defensive end. While Gregory may still be a long way from earning the starting role here, similarly styled players like Armstrong have the edge here over Charlton.

This relegates Charlton to the strong side, where he always projected best out of college. By the time the Cowboys realized this a season ago, they also knew a franchise pass rusher was playing his way into the team's long-term plans.

Lawrence's stellar consistency off the edge reduced Charlton's role in the Cowboys rotation of pass rushers. An ideal spot for the rookie to develop with less pressure on him, Charlton's opportunities to continue playing left end may only be reduced this season.

The first-round pick is capable of kicking inside at defensive tackle, a position the Cowboys could certainly use help at. However, asking Charlton to go through another position shift would only halt the progress that took quite a bit of patience from Dallas to see.

It's far from unheard of for the Cowboys to do this with their young players, but for now Charlton remains a defensive end looking to make his impact. The Cowboys are in much better position now than they were at this time a year ago when it comes to setting expectations for him to do so.

Given everything he showed on tape at Michigan as well as in his pre-draft interviews, Charlton is a player that needs to succeed at the task at hand. When this plan is altered, the 6'6" pass rusher is much less effective -- without even considering any athletic struggles that Charlton has compared to other prototypes at defensive end.

As a unit, the Cowboys defensive line has all the pieces to be very effective this season. Taco Charlton is a piece to this puzzle, a backup left end that must find a way to flourish in this role.

For most former 28th overall picks, doing so would be considered a fall from grace. For the Cowboys, it's simply an example of strong roster building that's forced life to come at Charlton quickly. How he responds with a full season under his belt will make or break the hype this deep Cowboys defensive line has garnered, lead of course by the starter at Charlton's position in DeMarcus Lawrence.

Tell us what you think about "Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys OT La’el Collins Could Become Major Bargain

Jess Haynie



La'el Collins

When you talk Cowboys offensive line, you always think of Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin first. Right Tackle La'el Collins still has to prove he belongs in the same sentence with his elite teammates. If he does that in 2018, Collins could become one of the best bargains on the roster.

Making the move from left guard to right tackle last year, Collins improved with time and was playing his best football at the end of the year. This was despite ongoing back issues that had him on the injury report most weeks.

La'el started all 16 games at right tackle and did enough that the Cowboys committed to keeping him there in 2018, even despite a big hole back at left guard. They are hoping consistency and stability will allow Collins to really blossom this season, building on the strong progress shown last year.

For 2018, Collins has a $5.76 million cap hit. According to Spotrac, that makes him the 13th-most expensive right tackle in the NFL this year.

That middle-of-the-pack expense is consistent with where La'el currently rates among NFL right tackles. Bleacher Report ranked Collins as the 16th-best RT in football last year.

But that ranking was based on the season as a whole. If La'el plays all of 2018 the way he was playing towards the end of last year, he will have emerged as one of the better right tackles in the game.

La'el Collins' Position Flex Could Come in Handy for Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys OT La'el Collins

If Collins develops as we hope, that salary suddenly becomes a major bargain. The most expensive right tackles in the NFL are making $7-$9 million this season.

But this can go a couple of ways. With his 2019 cap hit rising to $7.9 million, La'el needs to next step forward.

If Collins were to struggle this year, it could make him a potential cap casualty next offseason. Dallas can save $6.5 million in cap space if Collins is released or traded in 2019.

Dallas could elect to give Connor Williams, their second-round pick this year, a look at right tackle next season. It's the position he played in college.

They could also consider veteran backup Cameron Fleming, who will still be just 26-year-old. Fleming has two Super Bowl rings and several starts, including in the postseason, from his time with the Patriots.

While we think of La'el Collins as a first-round talent, it's important to remember that he was ultimately an undrafted free agent. Dallas did not have to invest anything to acquire him, and ultimately that makes it easier to let him go.

Naturally, we prefer the other side of this coin. If Collins builds on 2017, he will join the upper echelon of right tackles in the league. And if the Cowboys' offensive line isn't already the best in the NFL, that would only cement them as the best unit in football.

If La'el makes the leap, it could mean huge things for the Cowboys' offense and team success this year.

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Dallas Cowboys

How Cowboys Could Benefit From Randy Gregory’s Suspension

Brian Martin



Cowboys Headlines - Randy Gregory Withdraws Suspension Appeal, Cannot Return Until Week 15

Randy Gregory is back! His suspension is officially over and he will be able to join the Dallas Cowboys in Oxnard, California when training camp gets underway less than a week from now.

Speculation has already started as to what this could mean for the Dallas Cowboys defense this season, and shockingly expectations are rather high for a player who hasn't stepped foot on the field in over a year. But, that's not what I want to talk about today. Today I want to focus on Gregory's mess of a contract, because it is rather interesting.

Randy Gregory was signed to a four-year contract after being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the second-round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Gregory's rookie deal was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2018 season, but his multiple suspensions have now changed that expiration date.

You see, Gregory has only played in a total of 14 games in his career, 12 as a rookie and two in Year 2. His third year in the NFL was completely wiped out due to his year-long suspension. If you were to add that all up, it equates to just one accured season in the NFL. Remember that, because it could have a huge impact on his contract down the road.

Randy Gregory

Dallas Cowboys DE Randy Gregory

What all of this means is that the Cowboys can pretty much stretch out Gregory's contract now that they are three years in on the deal and have only gotten one accured season out of the agreement. That basically means they can push his contract back a year, meaning his 2017 salary ($731,813) gets pushed back to 2018, his 2018 salary ($955,217) gets pushed to 2019. That would essentially make him a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) in 2020.

Or does it?

Depending on how the Dallas Cowboys handled paying Randy Gregory during his suspension could actually make him an Exclusive Rights Free Agent (EFA). This is a similar situation in which David Irving found himself in after the 2017 season. The Cowboys placed a second-round tender on him in order to secure his services for another season, albeit at a $2.91 million price tag.

As you can see, the Dallas Cowboys pretty much hold all the cards when it comes to Randy Gregory's contract situation. It's all a little confusing, but that's what makes it such a unique and interesting situation.

Of course, the Cowboys could decide to extend Gregory early if he completely dominates upon his return this season. It's highly doubtful though considering his past suspensions, but still technically a possibility. If it does happen, you can go ahead and ignore everything I've written previously.

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