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Breaking down the Cowboys dilemma with Jourdan Lewis

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Will Jourdan Lewis be a Cowboy at the start of the 2019 season?

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Not many Dallas Cowboys took a bigger step back in playing time in 2018 than cornerback Jourdan Lewis. The second-year pro was coming off his rookie year in 2017 where he started seven games and recorded 54 total two tackles for loss, one interception, and an impressive 10 passes defended.

Expectations were high for Lewis. Many believed he and Chidobe Awuize would be the Cowboys’ starting corners for the next few years, but that all changed when Dallas brought in Kris Richard.

The new defensive backs coach, who played a big role in the creation of the Seattle Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom”, had a very particular mold of corner he likes in his defense. Current safety at the time, Byron Jones, fit Richard’s prototype perfectly. Richard played a huge part in the decision to move him back to corner, and it paid off exponentially as he created an All-Pro.

Richard likes his corners tall, long, and lengthy. Richard Sherman is the perfect prototype of what the current Cowboys’ defensive backs coach looks for in his perfect cornerback. Jourdan Lewis is extremely talented. He is quick, tough as nails, and possesses the swagger you need to play cornerback in the NFL. But he also is 5’10, 190 lbs, not an ideal fit in Richard’s system.

Because of this, Lewis found it hard to get onto the field in 2018. He went from starting seven games in 2017 to just one in 2018 and recorded 42 less total tackles and nine fewer passes defended. The one game he did get on the field was when he was used to cover New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara, and he had a huge game.

Kamara caught just eight passes for 36 yards in that game, and Lewis did an outstanding job shadowing him in the eight snaps he played. He also made one of the biggest plays of the Cowboys’ season that night, intercepting Drew Brees to seal a Dallas win.

In a limited role, Lewis was fairly productive when he was on the field. But with his lack of fit in Richard’s scheme and unclear role on the 2019 team, there is a serious question if Jourdan Lewis will be a Dallas Cowboys when the regular season rolls around.

Some believe Dallas would be smart to get something in return for a guy who likely will not play unless there is an injury.

If Dallas does decide to trade Lewis, there really is an unknown about what they would get in return. In a world where All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown only fetches you a third- and fifth-round pick in return, I find it hard to believe Dallas would get anything better than a very late-round pick for Lewis.

A big factor in what Dallas decides to do is how their other corners step up. If a guy like Michael Jackson comes in and proves he is ready to step into the role that Lewis would have assumed, it makes it much easier for the team to deal him away knowing they have a viable replacement. It sounds simple, but if Jackson or another one of the team’s young corners really shows something at training camp, it could make Dallas feel alright about pulling the plug on Lewis.

Despite not fitting into his scheme, when asked about Lewis about a month ago Richard had high praise for the young corner, and said he is an “exception” because of the way he plays.

Now, obviously, Kris Richard is not going announce to the world that Lewis does not fit his system at all and he has no use for him, but to go out of his way to compliment him does say something about the impact Lewis has made on him. The third-year corner clearly has turned some heads with his impressive work ethic and competitive attitude.

With Byron Jones and Anthony Brown becoming free agents at seasons end, I find it hard to believe Dallas wold be in a big hurry to deal Lewis. Once the contracts of Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Amari Cooper are in the rear view mirror, despite his outstanding play, Jones may be the odd man out. If this is the case, Dallas could need Lewis to take a role in the corner rotation.

Trades in the NFL are a crap-shoot, and too much depth is never a bad thing. NFL seasons are a marathon not a sprint, and it takes a deep roster of 53 quality players to win a championship. He may not fit in the current scheme, but with the raw talent and ability he possesses, giving up on Jourdan Lewis for a late-round pick would be a bad decision.