The Cowboys haven’t made anything official yet but it looks as though they are headed towards a parting of ways with Orlando Scandrick. It was rumored last year that they were shopping him during the draft but nothing ever came of it. Scandrick has been one of the Cowboys better cornerbacks over the last decade, surviving longer than two former first-round picks in Mike Jenkins and Morris Claiborne. As good as Scandrick was, the last few seasons have been unfortunate for him. He missed all of 2015 with an ACL injury suffered in training camp, he missed four games in 2016, and missed five games last season dealing with various injuries.
When the Cowboys drafted four defensive backs last year, it pretty much started the countdown clock for Scandrick’s tenure in Dallas. In his prime, Orlando Scandrick was among the best slot cornerbacks in the league but also played outside when asked. The NFL is a young man’s game, though, and time catches up with everyone.
Dallas made a huge move when they hired Kris Richard to take over the secondary. One of his first moves was turning a rumor into reality when he moved Byron Jones to cornerback from the free safety position. Jones will likely pair with Chidobe Awuzie out on the perimeter but that leaves a pretty significant role in the slot. In a league where the majority of teams spend most of the time in nickel or dime defense, the slot cornerback has become a true starting position.
Which brings us to Jourdan Lewis, the cornerback that Dallas was absolutely thrilled to be able to draft in the third round. Early draft projections on Lewis were in the first and second round before his off-the-field issue dropped his stock. Lewis started seven of the 15 games he played last season at various positions. He finished second on the team in passes defensed with 10, had 54 tackles, and an interception. Though he spent a lot of time on the outside due to necessity, Lewis was brought in to eventually be their starting nickel corner.
Coming out of Michigan, Lewis was perhaps the very best nickel corner in the entire 2017 NFL Draft. He was so outstanding as a starter for the Wolverines that in three seasons, he amassed 42 pass breakups. In his final year, he only allowed seven catches and an opposing passer rating of 23.3 when he was thrown at. For a guy sub-six foot, he’s got incredible length as a defender with 34.5 inch arms. That length blended together with his quick feet, competitive nature, and ball skills fit the aggressive style Richard prefers in his defense.
With Lewis getting a chance to play in a more natural position for him, it could mean huge payoffs for the secondary going forward. Lewis will have some shoes to fill for a departing Scandrick but there is no doubt the trajectory of this secondary is pointing upwards. Lewis has the potential to be a Pro Bowler if he’s anywhere close to the same cat that was rocking in Ann Arbor.
The Cowboys still have plenty of work to do on the back end of their secondary but you have to feel good about their prospects at cornerback. It’s going to be really exciting to see what heights this secondary can reach with Kris Richard running the show.