Back in July I took a look at each of the Dallas Cowboys draft selections and what their short-term contributions would be. Included in that piece was my assessment that, for 2013, B.W. Webb should primarily looked to for contributions on special teams because his game was not ready for the NFL. My prognosis for Webb's season was that this would be a year for him to gain some experience and to allow his abilities and instincts to start getting him noticed. He is a player who was drafted with an eye toward what he would bring to the team in future seasons and not one who was intended to have a significant role on the 2013 defense. As the season developed, injuries to key players forced Dallas to abandon this approach and insert Webb into a situation for which he is not ready.
As Carlos Mendez observed, there is a Jason Garrett quote that is frequently applied to young players who are ready to play on Sunday, a phrase which the head coach has not been using in reference to B.W. Webb. That phrase is "The game is not too big for him." So far, the professional game has proven to be too big for Webb, but that is to be expected. There are not too many fourth-round picks that are ready to make their mark in professional football. Coming out of William and Mary, the young cornerback still has a lot to learn. There is no reason for anyone to think that he is not capable of living up to the expectations that the Cowboys had when they selected him, but it is going to take some time for him to grow.
"I think it’s hard for any rookie to come in and play, particularly at that position. We feel good about some of the things he’s done, but he certainly has to continue to get better." - Jason Garrett
For now, Dallas is focused on giving Webb the time that it will take, rather than forcing him into situations that he cannot handle. Following a dismal showing in Chicago, which saw him benched in favor of Sterling Moore, whom he had beaten out during training camp, Webb has found himself running with the scout team. Although the head coach stopped short of calling the move a demotion, Moore has been filling the role that was formerly Webb's. As far as the coaches are concerned, B.W. is still a part of the Cowboys future, albeit a part that is going to have to make some serious strides in the near future.
"Sometimes he’s played young this year. You can see some of his inexperience, both as an inside guy and an outside guy. He plays a hard position, so you have to come in there and deal with some success that they have against you and keep playing. Sometimes he’s shown his youth and his inexperience."
The grading curve in the NFL is much steeper than it is in the Colonial Athletic Association, and for the 2013 season, Webb may be properly judged to have earned an "F". But the young man does have the athletic ability and instincts to become a solid performer in the league. For now he needs to take advantage of the tutelage offered by the coaching staff and dedicate himself to being the type of player that he has the ability to become. It won't be easy, but if Webb is willing to put in the effort, he can become a key piece of the Dallas secondary in the near future. The responsibility for doing that falls squarely on his shoulders.