The series continues as we look into the improvements this front office has made over the course of the offseason. Have the Cowboys improved their cornerbacks from 2014 to 2015?
2014: Orlando Scandrick, Brandon Carr, Sterling Moore, Morris Claiborne (season ending injury), Tyler Patmon
2015: Orlando Scandrick, Byron Jones, Brandon Carr, Corey White, Morris Claiborne, Tyler Patmon
LCB Orlando Scandrick
Although there were a few hiccups early in the offseason due to Scandrick's deal, they worked themselves out and now Orlando is being paid properly. We are so many years removed from the folks that were in a huff about Scandrick being extended early. In the last few years, we've seen Scandrick go from scapegoat to arguably the best player on the defense. His ability to play both zone and man coverage added with his feisty nature to fight make him a great player to have on this team. You can't look at Scandrick and tell him he's small, at least not to his face...Jimmy Graham. Don't give him bulletin board material either...Victor Cruz. According to PFF, Scandrick finished 2014 off as first in blitzing, eighth in coverage, and tenth overall giving the opposing passer and 82 passer rating with zero touchdowns. He also picked off two passers and deflected five passes and is one of the best slot corners in the league. Orlando Scandrick is a salty dog and we're not talking about the drink. But hey, sometimes a dog is exactly what the doctor ordered.
RCB Byron Jones
With all the questions at the position this offseason, the Cowboys did what they do best; fortify. When the Cowboys were sitting there with the 27th pick, there was only one logical answer and that was to grab the best athlete in the entire pool. Byron Jones is far more than some workout warrior though, the tape at UConn clearly shows a gifted corner and safety in one man. Jones started as a free safety, something he did extremely well, but due to injuries and other things, Jones was given a shot at corner. It was there that he really honed and re-tooled his game. Lots of talk about Jones' versatility got him on the radar, his outstanding measurables got him drafted. An intelligent specimen, Jones could very well compete for the starting corner position opposite Scandrick or find him self beating out J.J. Wilcox for the safety position. Either way, the Cowboys are in a win-win situation in taking Byron Jones. From a guy who was right beside the Eagles' tent in Chicago that chilly April night, nobody was too keen on the Cowboys getting such a high character, high rewarding athlete in their secondary.
RCB Brandon Carr
Carr gave up six touchdowns last season and opposing quarterbacks had a 113+ passer rating against him, by far his worst outing as an NFL corner. However, dealing with the loss of his mother and other things are something you can never underestimate. Carr's poor season was also mixed with playing well down the stretch. Sometimes you're up, sometimes you're down, but the Cowboys believe they have the remedy. It's called putting Carr back on the right side where he enjoyed success both at the tail end of last season, and his entire career up until his signing in Dallas. We've all seen the good, playmaking Carr. Now is the time to see him again. In the final stretch of games including the playoffs, PFF shows Carr as a +3.9. That's improvement. He also had games against the likes of Russell Wilson. Andrew Luck, and whichever quarterback Washington decided to use where they couldn't get nothing over on him. The Cowboys hope that Carr can deliver once again and show them that last season was a mirage.
SCB Corey White
White comes to Dallas to take the role vacated by the departure of Sterling Moore. He's also a scapegoat castoff from New Orleans. The issue in NOLA though should not be resting on White's shoulders but instead on the defensive scheming of Rob Ryan. At some point, you find that though Ryan is a great mind and creative; you can't always outsmart everyone else. White was wearing many hats last season including stepping in for Kenny Vaccaro after he was benched by Ryan for poor play. White is another versatile player that can play both safety and corner and is comfortable in zone schemes, too. His best position is probably as a slot player where he looks most comfortable. Even with the poor play in New Orleans last season, White only gave up four touchdowns. Which is not great but good when considering he was able to stifle Aaron Rodgers, Teddy Bridgewater, Cam Newton and Matt Ryan. Those four games, White gave up a passer rating of 27.8. He's not a shutdown type of corner by any means, but as a role player in Dallas, he'll get a chance to shine.
CB Morris Claiborne
Claiborne deserves a ton of credit for the way he's handled his injury situation in Dallas. It's easy to give up when you have had as many lowlights as Mo'. The guy was the sixth-overall pick that got everyone excited in 2012, most teams would have taken him just as high. Confidence issues and injuries have plagued the young player but now may be his last chance. It also may be his best opportunity. When the expectation is low, people can do some pretty great things. The Cowboys just want to see him do something of resemblance to an NFL caliber corner. At this point, all he needs to do is continue to tread the right path to health and be a solid contributor. Though the Cowboys declined to pick up his option, Mo' understood that it was expected. You have to earn those types of things. However, if Claiborne can show some development and talent that many still know he has, then the sky is the limit for where he can go next.
CB Tyler Patmon
I know a lot of folks are excited to see what this guy can do with more playing time. He may be small but like Scandrick, he's got a great motor and he is feisty. Besides, it seems all he does is make plays when given the opportunity. Patmon isn't going away quietly into the night, he'll certainly want the chance to fight others for a role as the slot corner. After getting one year of experience under his belt, maybe he can make a leap in 2015. Patmon is a smart player and he's not going to put himself in a bad position, that alone will get these coaches looking your way.
My take: It's obvious the unit has improved just with the acquisition on Byron Jones. However, this is a solid group all around. They played well in spurts last season but eventually a porous pass rush caught up with them and they weren't given the opportunity to truly succeed. Now the pass rush is revamped and the corners are waiting in the wings to pick off the rest.