Many people are saying that Dallas has significantly upgraded their CB position with the addition of Claiborne. Football Outsiders points out that (Everson Walls aside) Rookie CBs may well struggle. They say Claiborne, at least for this year, is not an upgrade over Jenkins and Scandrick. In that, I believe they are exactly correct. I don't expect Claiborne to be better this year than Jenkins was last year, although I do believe he's an upgrade, outside, from Scandrick (and, conversely, Scandrick is better in the slot).
BUT to turn around and say that Dallas has not made HUGE upgrades to their CB position is malarkey.
FIrst off (and, in their defense, FO concedes this point before they proceed to ignore it for the rest of their analysis), Brandon Carr is an upgrade over pro-bowl caliber *prime* Terence Newman, and a massive improvement over end-of-his-career, injury-riddled Terence Newman. This is a Romo versus Brad Johnson in 2008 kind of difference.
Secondly, let's go so far as to say that Claiborne 2012 = Orlando Scandrick 2011. Scandrick was easily our second best CB on the field at all, last year, and the best when Jenkins was (as he often was) unavailable. That means we are now as good or better 4 deep at CB as we were 2 deep last year. How on earth is that not a significant improvement? Let's review this a minute:
Brandon Carr -- Better than anything we had last year
Mike Jenkins -- Our best CB last year when he was on the field
Orlando Scandrick -- Our second best CB last year. Our best one who was available most of the time, but also missed games due to injury.
Morris Claiborne -- for the purposes of this excercise, as good as Scandrick.
ALL FOUR are way better than:
Newman (started 14 games), Ball (started 2 games), and Frank Walker (played significant snaps).
So four deep, we are better than two guys who started for us last year, and one more who spent most of the season as our number 3. Once again, a massive upgrade.
But this all ignores the most important aspect of this. Your best CB does not matter. Today's QBs are incredibly smart and decisive. If there is a hole in your defense they will find it and exploit it in about 2 seconds, so the important guy is not your best cover CB, but the worst.
How many times did we (and perhaps more importantly, Anthony Spencer) watch Eli Manning take three steps and hit whoever Ball or Walker was covering for a 12-15 yard gain on 3rd and long? How many yards did Victor Cruz get by running around the aging Terence Newman, the Hynoski Hurdle?
THIS is where the difference is-- the three worst performing CBs are off the team and will not see the field for Dallas this year. We are better than those guys 4 deep without question. We might be better 6 deep... and THAT is a massive difference, whether Football Outsiders acknowledges it or not.