When the Dallas Cowboys selected Wide Receiver CeeDee Lamb with the 17th overall pick in 2020, it was seen as the steal of the NFL Draft. However, it didn't stop there, as they were able to snag Cornerback Trevon Diggs in the second round as their CB1 of the future who many had a first-round grade on.
Although Diggs had his struggles at the beginning of the season, he finished with a very solid campaign logging 14 pass breakups and three interceptions which led the team in both categories. However, Diggs left a lot of meat on the bone with a plethora of drops that could have led to more takeaways.
“I got my hands on 14 balls,” Diggs said. “I ended up with not 14 interceptions. So, that's the problem. … I dropped a lot. I dropped a lot of them.”
Diggs isn't the typical cornerback. In addition to playing defensive back in high school, he also played wide receiver. During his junior and senior seasons, he gained over 1,000 yards receiving and was a two-time All-Washington D.C. Metro selection. Once he made it to Alabama, he continued playing wide receiver as a freshman before fully converting to cornerback as a sophomore.
His background of playing the wide receiver position gives him the mindset to attack the football like one while playing cornerback. Last August, Diggs told ESPN San Antonio about how his time at wide receiver has helped him with being an effective cornerback.
“It helps me play the ball better, locating the ball, tracking the ball, having a feel for the ball, having a feel for routes,” Diggs said. “When receivers break down, I know when they're really breaking and when they're not breaking. Little things that I've done as a receiver that are just natural to me. It helped me be more fluid in my transition. I feel like it helped me a lot.”
Diggs has another advantage that most cornerbacks don't have. His older brother, Stefon Diggs of the Buffalo Bills, is one of the NFL's top wide receivers. When offseason practices were canceled last spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Diggs trained with his brother in South Florida, which undoubtedly helped him get ready for his rookie campaign.
“When I was in high school, we trained together every day,” Diggs said. “It felt good to get back and train with him every day. He's in the NFL, so he knows what it takes. Therefore, I was following his lead and just competing with him every day to try to get better, trying to perfect my craft. It's been a blessing. It was a blessing that we were able to have a home and training facility, somewhere to run routes. I'm getting a look every day, so it was good.”
With training camp in full swing, Diggs is working to be better at seizing chances to make interceptions.
“This year, I'm focused on making all of them opportunities count anytime it's a ball, it's an interception,” said Diggs. “So, coming out here, just practicing it and just keep going.”
Diggs was able to become the first Cowboys rookie defender to lead the team in interceptions and pass breakups. What's even more impressive about that accomplishment is that he did so while missing four games with a broken foot.
It appears that Diggs loves making plays against NFC East opponents. He logged 10 of his 14 pass breakups and all three interceptions against the Cowboy's biggest rivals. While that may not mean much to some, games within your division can often determine whether or not your playing meaningful football in January or making travel plans for the offseason. The fact that Diggs has shown a knack for stepping up in those types of situations proves that he realizes the significance of winning games against the teams the Cowboys are the most familiar with.
There's plenty of competition at the cornerback position in training camp for the Cowboys. Anthony Brown is trying to lockdown the CB2 spot with rookies Kelvin Joseph and Nahshon Wright on his heels, and Jourdan Lewis is looking to validate his three-year deal by manning the slot cornerback spot. However, it's clear who is at the head of the table at the position, and that's Diggs.
He's off to a very good start in Oxnard. He intercepted Dak Prescott on the first play of a 7-on-7 drill during the opening training camp practice and has logged pass breakups against Michael Gallup and the aforementioned Lamb.
His play hasn't gone unnoticed as Head Coach Mike McCarthy had some glowing praise of his top cornerback.
“So instinctive,” McCarthy said. “Ball skills are unique…when the ball is in the air, he is like another receiver out there.”
Diggs has all the tools to catapult up the ladder of the NFL's best cornerbacks this season. His progression will be key as the Cowboys look to improve on the worst defense in its history in 2020.