The cornerback position group of the Dallas Cowboys is very strong as Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis are all having great training camps. All-Pro corner Byron Jones has yet to practice as he is recovering from hip surgery, but no one seems too worried as the strength of the team’s fearsome foursome has put people’s minds at ease. Between smothering coverage, great pass break ups, and physical open field tackling - this unit is one of the strongest position groups on the team.
While the top four guys are set in stone, what happens after that is anyone’s guess. C.J. Goodwin is a top-notch special teams player and looks to have the inside track on one of the depth corner spots. The team also just spent a fifth-round draft pick on Miami’s Mike Jackson. The coaching staff may want to keep him around to give him enough of an opportunity to showcase his ability. So, where does leave last season’s practice squad player, Donovan Olumba?
Similar to last year, Olumba is having a nice training camp. He’s always around the ball and does a good job using his size to pester receivers. He’s had several pass break ups in camp. But for Olumba, getting those plays to transfer to game action has been his bugaboo. That was, until Saturday.
Olumba had a very nice game against the Los Angeles Rams. His biggest play came on 3rd-and-11 in the fourth quarter where he read a bubble screen, fought through a block with one hand, and then grabbed a hold of the receiver with the other hand for a six-yard loss. Olumba is a physical player who uses his size to his advantage. At 6’2”, he’s the biggest of any of the corners on the team with a reasonable chance to make the roster. On Saturday, he put that size and physicality to use.
Donovan Olumba with a nice pass break up. This is why Kris Richard loves tall, physical corners. pic.twitter.com/RXOj4zGh1O— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) August 19, 2019
While Olumba has been making plays, one has to wonder if it will be enough to make the 53-man roster. With a reliable core group, the team was able to go short last season by only keeping the four main guys. The team may look to stash a young guy for later since a couple of their starters (Jones and Brown) have expiring contracts.
Last season, the team passed up on saving a young developing corner as they traded away Charvarius Ward to the Kansas City Chiefs. Ward improved as the year went on and made some key plays for the Chiefs down the stretch last year. He started the final two games of the season as well as the Chiefs Divisional Playoff game where he had four pass break ups. Had it not been for Dee Ford lining up offsides, Ward would’ve sent the Chiefs to the Super Bowl as he was able to come down with an interception after a pass deflected off of Rob Gronkowski. Ward continues to get better and came away with a pick in the end zone this weekend against the Steelers.
Chiefs DB Charvarius Ward intercepts Steelers QB Josh Dobbs in the end zone, and returns it all the way near midfield pic.twitter.com/2MxvhJcC3B— Main Team (@MainTeamSports) August 18, 2019
Just like Ward, Olumba is one of last year’s big undrafted free agents the Cowboys signed. They’ve already let one of them get away, so maybe they should hang on to this one. Olumba’s play is trending up as he continues to show improvement. His play won’t be at the level as the other guys, but with more work, he has the potential to turn into a very nice depth piece to this secondary.
It may not seem like the Cowboys have room, but they can make space by going short at the safety position. Are there any bench players at safety that the team feels they absolutely must have? While rookie Donovan Wilson still offers some upside, we’ve most likely seen the apex of Darian Thompson, George Iloka, and Kavon Frazier. On their good days, they’re just okay and on the bad days, they’re liabilities in the secondary. And if special teams ace Goodwin makes the team, maybe it’s not worth keeping Frazier around. The team can get away with taking the best one of those three, along with Wilson to make up a four-player safety group with Xavier Woods and Jeff Heath. That would leave them extra room to go deep at corner.
We still have a couple more weeks of training camp left so things can change, but if Olumba continues to make plays in the preseason, the team may be forced to save him a spot on the roster.