When the Dallas Cowboys lost Byron Jones to the Miami Dolphins in free agency, it was a massive blow to a defensive backfield that didn't have a lot of depth or a player that was ready to step into a lead cornerback role. Though many attempt to discredit Jones because he didn't get a lot of interceptions during his five-year stint with the Dallas Cowboys, his coverage was a huge part of what made them successful on defense.
This offseason hasn't provided a direct answer to who will replace Jones in the starting cornerback group. Still, the Dallas Cowboys have worked overtime, attempting to find adequate replacements for the cornerback group. The competition will be hot and heavy this Summer (if the NFL has offseason practices and training camp) as the depth at cornerback is pretty impressive.
Let's take a quick look at the cornerbacks they'll take into the Summer with the number of snaps played in the NFL per Pro Football Focus.
- Daryl Worley – 3,556 snaps from 2016-2019
- Anthony Brown – 3,186 snaps from 2016-2019
- Chidobe Awuzie – 2,573 snaps from 2017-2019
- Jourdan Lewis – 1,806 snaps from 2017-2019
- Maurice Canady – 1,216 snaps from 2016-2019
- C.J. Goodwin – 1,196 snaps from 2014-2019
- Trevon Diggs – Rookie Second Round Pick
- Reggie Robinson – Rookie Fourth Round Pick
- Saivion Smith – Practice Squad Player in 2019
- Chris Westry – Practice Squad Player in 2019
In addition to re-signing Anthony Brown and C.J. Goodwin in free agency, the Dallas Cowboys added five cornerbacks to the depth chart this offseason. The signed Daryl Worley, Maurice Canady, and Saivion Smith in free agency and drafted Trevon Digs and Reggie Robinson.
The goal has been apparent from the beginning.
Mike Nolan, Maurice Linguist, and Al Harris have been trying to find cornerbacks that are big, fast, and aggressive. Each of those additions will have an opportunity to carve out a role with the Dallas Cowboys in 2020 and beyond.
The three most experienced Dallas Cowboys, Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Anthony Brown, have been put on notice. Awuzie and Lewis, in particular, are entering a contract year and will need to hold off the completion that's been brought onto the roster. With a new coaching staff in place, there's no guarantee that holdovers from the 2019 roster will make the 2020 roster.
Trevon Diggs is the rookie with the best chance to start in year one. Aside from Chidobe Awuzie and Daryl Worley, the Cowboys don't have a player with a ton of experience as outside cornerbacks. Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis have done most of their work from the slot, though both have enough coverage skills to help you on the outside.
There's been talk of moving either Chidobe Awuzie, Daryl Worley, or Reggie Robinson to safety, or at least a more hybrid defensive back role. Each of these players played multiple positions in the secondary during their time in college, and Worley spent a lot of last year playing safety in Oakland late in the season. Awuzie spent a considerable amount of time as a box safety and slot corner while at Colorado. That versatility may help him get on the field in the event he's unable to maintain his starting spot as one of the two outside cornerbacks.
Because of the depth, there aren't any clear answers to the questions at cornerback. However, the competition that'll take place will help to clarify what the Dallas Cowboys will do with their secondary in 2020. The competition is going to be hot and heavy, and that competition will provide the answers at the cornerback spot.