The situation with Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne in 2015 makes the selection of a cornerback a position of need for the Dallas Cowboys. You can make the case for that selection of a cornerback to be in the first round of the draft. While many draftniks believe that the Dallas Cowboys are going to pick a running back in round one, others are betting defense and for good reasons.
Defense does seem to be the more urgent need and then it boils down to which position on defense is needed the most?
I think the defense needs a corner more than it needs an upgrade on the defensive line (like getting a replacement for Nick Hayden or an eventual replacement for Greg Hardy if he doesn't stay past 2015). As far as defensive end goes, they could draft Hardy's replacement in next year's draft assuming that the two parties don't reach a contract agreement, which should not be summarily dismissed.
The other reason to not worry about the front four is all the help that is available on the team that was not available last year, or are projected to be better this year. Players like Terrell McClain, Chris Whaley, Davon Coleman and Josh Brent are all well suited to play next to Tyrone Crawford and even spell him from time to time. And then there are others that can man that 1-tech position from time to time; guys like Ken Bishop, Ben Gardner, and Greg Hardy.
That also gets back to the reason why corner is a much bigger need which includes the problem of the lack of quality depth at the corner position. Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick and Corey White appear to be the opening day starters as of right now.
Many feel that Scandrick is best suited for the slot position due to the slot being the most demanding (the outside corners have the sideline to help them cover), it is often manned by a team's most fluid corner, and in this case, the guy that is also the team's best corner. The Cowboys wouldn't mind moving Scandrick over to the slot from the outside when needed.
Looking at the rest of the corners on the roster, Dallas has Morris Claiborne, Tyler Patmon, and Robert Steeples. That means while the Cowboys have six corners on their roster, they like most teams, usually only carry five or six maximum.
Teams usually only carry a total of ten defensive backs on their 53-man roster, so let's look at the safety position for the Cowboys. The projected starters at safety are Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox. The backups are Jeff Heath, Keelan Johnson, and Keith Smith. That means that the Cowboys have 11 defensive backs currently on their roster.
A team needs a minimum of five starters, (three corners and two safeties), but what happens if there are injuries? There needs to be a quality guy that can step in at corner and at safety without much drop off, so that means you really need seven quality defensive backs. Does anyone feel there are seven quality defensive backs currently on the roster?
Of the cornerbacks that are on the roster, Corey White should not be asked to begin the season as the starting slot corner. It would not be a good thing to count on a guy that has not been the starter to man the most difficult cornerback position on defense. This means that the Cowboys need to draft a starting cornerback to man the right side so that Scandrick can move inside to the slot when needed.
The perfect replacement for the right side corner position is Byron Jones. He is big, fast, and he has the ability, smarts and experience to be a starter. He is climbing up the draft boards and may not even be there when the Cowboys pick at 27. Bryan Broaddus has Jones as his first pick in the mothership's first seven-round mock draft but he may not be there at pick 27 as he is now considered by some the third best corner in the draft.
Until this year Gerald Sensabaugh held the combine record for the vertical jump at 46". This year WR Chris Conley had a 45" jump and CB Willie Creear had an incredible 47" vertical to break Sensabaugh's record. Calvin Johnson has recorded a 45" vertical and with the NFL going to more and more wide receivers and tight ends that are taller and taller, the Cowboys need defensive backs that can challenge the vertical jumping threats that they present especially in the end-zone on those fade routes that are about out-jumping the defender. Jones had a vertical of 44.5" and broke the broad jump record for the combine at 12 feet and three inches.
While Creear is not projected to be drafted, and teams have to be careful to not let the so-called "underwear olympics" overly influence their evaluations, Jones was already on most teams draft board and I believe he is the perfect pick for what the Cowboys need.