The Cowboys haven’t made any big splashes in the 2017 NFL free agency period, but the moves they’ve made serve a clear purpose. A perfect example of adding quality depth at a position of need – in an effort to be able to truly draft the best players available come April – CB Nolan Carroll was added from the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday.
A seven-year veteran, Nolan Carroll drew interest from the Cowboys a year ago, and now finds himself staying in the NFC East with a great chance to help a ready to win Dallas team.
Let’s take a closer look at exactly what Carroll can bring to a Cowboys secondary that has already lost safeties Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox to free agency, with corners Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr still on the market.
Nolan Carroll Cowboys: Scouting Report
The first thing that jumped out to me on Nolan Carroll’s game tape was his fluidity in movement and ability to use this skill to excel in multiple coverage schemes. Not possessing elite speed or textbook technique, Carroll simply finds multiple ways to win against top receivers with his length and understanding of route concepts.
At his best, Nolan Carroll consistently jams his target at the line – putting him a step ahead in his pedal at the top of the route. Once there, Carroll doesn’t always play with ideal balance, but he can rally to the football and explode to make plays.
The best example of these traits come on this Nolan Carroll interception of Eli Manning from week eight of 2016, as his length and closing speed earn him a takeaway that would be a welcome sight with the Cowboys – who saw just four interceptions from their cornerbacks this season.
Carroll is incredibly hard to separate from down field with his closing speed, and this trait jumps out on tape as plenty of teams attempted to throw double moves at the veteran in an attempt to break him down. Like any defender, Carroll will give up some plays in these situations, but more times than not was able to stand his ground and leave no throwing window
Nolan Carroll will join second-year stud Anthony Brown and Orlando Scandrick as the cornerbacks for Rod Marinelli’s defense in Dallas. It is clear that the Cowboys value athleticism and a certain physical threshold for the starters in their secondary, and Carroll should fit right in with the physicality to play as a boundary CB and use the sideline to his advantage while holding his own in space as a slot defender.
In run defense and as a tackler, Carroll is more than willing to step up and make plays on the ball. He won’t ‘wow’ anyone in Cowboys Nation with his open field athleticism to get to the ball and tackle, but he makes every play that’s in front of him and tackles with a good pad level.
The Dallas Cowboys secondary was perhaps a surprising strength of this team a year ago, and with the Giants and Eagles loading up at WR the defending division champions needed to make a move at CB.
Nolan Carroll wasn’t the move for this team to feel convinced that their depth chart at cornerback is ready to roll into a game, but an incredibly deep draft class at the position awaits.
Thanks to Carroll though, Will McClay and this front office won’t feel pressured to have to add a corner early in this draft – as they stole a functional starter from the rival Eagles in free agency.