This is the 15th installment of a series of articles evaluating the Dallas Cowboys current roster in anticipation of the April draft. This evaluation deals with the cornerback position.
OFFENSE: Part I QB | Part II RB | Part III FB | Part IV WR | Part V TE | Part VI OT | Part VII OG | Part VIII C
DEFENSE: Part IX NT | Part X DE | Part XI OLB | Part XII ILB | Part XIII SS | Part XIV FS
The Cowboys have six cornerbacks listed on their roster.
Starters – Terence Newman, Anthony Henry
Terence Newman is the quiet superstar. He plays a position where we usually get the divas - the look-at-me guys - but Newman just quietly goes about his business of shutting down big-time receivers. When the press would ask Bill Parcells about who are the hardest workers on the team, Newman’s name would be one of the first mentioned. Blessed with great speed, forwards and backwards, Newman is the best corner that never gets talked about as being the best corner. Only Cowboys fans who watch him week in and week out seem to fully appreciate his talents. The one knock on Terence is that he doesn’t get many interceptions. That’s offset because teams are so busy cooking our safeties or throwing on Anthony Henry, that Newman doesn't get much of a chance to intercept passes.
The bad news is that Newman is in the last year of his contract and will command big money if he hits the free agent market. Dallas needs to get him re-signed before that point.
Anthony Henry, while a competent #2 corner, can also be a frustrating corner. When he’s playing well, he provides the Cowboys with a solid set of corners. He’s a big corner who is good in run support but operates best when he has safety help. The Cowboys safeties have been slow in providing that help. Plus, for two years running he has developed nagging injuries in the second half of the season, limiting him further. Henry has a little bit to prove this year, he needs to stay injury-free and prove he’s worth the Cowboys’ investment. Henry has the talent, we’ve seen him play well for consistent stretches, but it would be nice if he played that way for a full season.
Reserves – Aaron Glenn (nickel starter), Jacques Reeves, Nate Jones, Quincy Butler
Aaron Glenn has done an admirable job as the Cowboys nickel corner for the past couple of years. He’s played very well for most of that time, but towards the end of last year Glenn started to give up some big plays, including TD’s. At his size, if he starts losing a step to Father Time, then his play could decline rapidly. I’m not writing him off at all, he’s a physical wonder, but the Cowboys need to be thinking about replacing him, if not sometime this year, then the next.
Jacques Reeves at this point still hasn’t signed to one-year tender. I’m not sure how to read this, but I’m still guessing Reeves will be back this year. He’s been a backup CB for years now and the Cowboys have probably seen all they need to about Reeves. He’s a backup who pitches in on special teams but probably will never be counted on as a starter.
Nate Jones just signed his one-year tender so we know he’ll at least be at camp. Jones actually got some playing time as a safety in some defenses last year and contributed more than he has at almost any time with the Cowboys. Still, it’s likely that Jones will never be a regular player, and holds on to a backup position just like Reeves has - because the Cowboys haven’t found anyone better yet.
Quincy Butler is rumored to have all the athletic ability in the world. I saw him in camp last year and didn’t notice him standing out, but maybe after one-year in the league, he can put some of that physical ability to use.
While it appears on the surface that the Cowboys are set at CB, a closer look shows a few worries. One, they have to re-sign Terence Newman. Two, Anthony Henry has been shaky because of injuries down the stretch the past two years. Three, Aaron Glenn is getting old and must be watched carefully for signs of decline. The rest of the backups don’t show starter potential. So the Cowboys roster at CB is not set in stone, and a CB could be in the plans in the early rounds.