What is the Cowboys’ biggest question mark following the 2016 Draft?
Well, what was the biggest question going into the draft? I think most would agree it was “Ezekiel Elliott or Jalen Ramsey” for the fourth-overall pick. We know Dallas went with the running back. Naturally, you wonder what that means for the secondary.
Dallas went from maybe drafting Ramsey to adding no defensive back until Anthony Brown in the 6th Round. They will essentially be bringing back the same cast as last year. That is understandably concerning.
You can take some hope in things like Orlando Scandrick’s return from injury and Byron Jones’ development as a second-year player with first-round talent. You can hope that Morris Claiborne will finally have a healthy season and be giving max effort as he tries to save his career. Maybe you project that Barry Church or J.J. Wilcox will emerge as a better starting safety if they have Jones playing next to them instead of each other.
However, the other side of hope is fear.
There’s plenty of reason to be worried about the defensive backfield. Scandrick may have recurring issues with his knee, or simply not be able to return to the same level of play. Brandon Carr, already somewhat limited, could be declining as he gets older. Claiborne may suffer from the same issues that have made him a disappointing first-round pick.
Assuming that Jones is playing safety, those three guys are your top cornerbacks. That won’t change in 2016.
We’ve bemoaned the cornerback play for years and they did not add a fresh face. The hope is that having all three healthy and Jones backing them up at safety, or able to slide in and do some coverage at times, will improve the overall performance.
They will also hope that the pass rush will be better than it has in recent seasons. That will obviously be an issue with DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory out for the first four weeks, but improvement is realistic once they return.
You can’t project or assume anything about these guys. We’ve seen them at their worst, but have seen flashes of good play from all. At best, they won’t be one of the league’s best trios.
Hopefully, with improvement across the board and the offense leading the way with a dominant run game, the risk can be mitigated. If not, we’ll be back to bitching about our secondary.
It’s a very familiar tune.