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Ranking the roster: Defensive secondary

This is Part IV of a series ranking each player on the roster at specific positions. You can read the other installments at the links below. A brief reminder that this is a ranking based on the likelihood of making the 53-man roster, not a ranking of pure talent. I’ve included the assumptions again at the bottom of the article.

Part I: Offensive skill positions | Part II: Offensive line | Part III: Defensive front seven

Part IV is for the defensive secondary.

Terence Newman (Lock) – He’s a lock, but how ‘bout locking him up for another five years.
Anthony Henry (Lock) – Although inconsistent, he’s our 2nd-best corner.
Aaron Glenn – I wanted to put a lock on Aaron Glenn, but he’ll be 35 when the season starts. I’m sure he’ll be on the roster, it’s hard to see one of the other CB’s knocking him out, but 35-year old CB’s who are only 5’ 9" can be vulnerable. He gets a semi-lock.
Jacques Reeves – Probably hangs on because he is experienced, but any CB below Glenn is fighting hard for a roster spot.
Courtney Brown – I moved Brown ahead of the vet Jones because he’s a very athletic kid and the Cowboys need to start looking at new, younger talent at the position.
Nate Jones – His experience is a plus, but hasn’t distinguished himself in Dallas.
Quincy Butler – The coaches claim he’s a physical talent, if he can show some instincts and technique, he stands a shot.
Alan Ball – I don’t see a kid that thin who doesn’t have particularly great speed winning a spot.

Roy Williams (Lock) – I won’t even discuss whether he can cover or can’t cover and whether Parcells was using him incorrectly; I’ll just say he’s a lock.
Pat Watkins (Lock) – I don’t think he’ll be the starter, but the Cowboys like him for the future and will not give up on him yet. Because he’s young and under contract, he’ll be on the roster.
Ken Hamlin (Lock) – I almost couldn’t put the lock yet on Hamlin, only because he signed a one-year deal with minimal bonus money, and if for some reason he absolutely stinks in training camp, because of his contract they could part ways with little damage. But I’m 99.9% sure he’ll be on the team – good enough for the lock - and more than likely, he’ll be the starter.
Abram Elam – Elam gets the nod over Davis in the safety rotation because he’s younger, cheaper, and showed some potential last year.
Keith Davis – Davis’ situation is dicey, he’s great on special teams, and that should probably get him a spot. But if some of the younger secondary players make a push, the Cowboys might go with them. Davis is being paid more than his worth (thanks New Orleans), and the Cowboys are unlikely to give him another contract after this year like the one he just got.
Jasper Johnson – UDFA, so he’s near the bottom.
Damarius Bilbo – You guys know I love Bilbo since he’s from Georgia Tech, but he’s trying to learn a new position. Just not likely to make the 53-man roster.

The floor is now open. These are just guesses at a very early part of the offseason, so don’t hold me to them once training camp arrives. A lot of these players I haven’t seen play in person, and some of them I’ve never even seen on TV. But it should make for some fun discussion.

I might have missed a few bottom-of-the-roster players who were signed along the way, so if I did, remind me and I’ll up date the post.

Some ground rules for my rankings.

I moved some players around based on things that the coaches and Jerry have said, plus the needs at the position, and plain old gut feel. Not all of them will happen, but I tried to make educated guesses.

Draftees get more benefit of the doubt. If a draftee is competing with a back-up veteran, sometimes the draftee gets the nod even if the vet might be the better player at this moment.

This isn’t a direct ranking of each player’s talent level; other factors sometimes play into the ranking. For example, I think that Terrell Owens is our most talented receiver by a small margin over Terry Glenn, but Glenn has already been paid his bonus while Owens has not. This makes Glenn just a little more of a lock than Owens to make the 53-man roster, so he comes in ahead of Owens, but both are locks in my opinion.

Don’t get too mad at me if I slay one of your pet cats by putting him at the bottom of a ranking. I’ll readily admit I don’t know a lot about UDFA’s and some of out draftees, so I just ranked them on gut feel, need at the position, or by throwing darts at a chart with their names on it.  

Be forewarned, I have an unfair bias in favor of veterans over the UDFA’s right now. Until I see some of these guys at camp, if they were one of the last guys signed and not drafted, then they’ll probably rank at the bottom.

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