It’s been a roller coaster of a ride for Trevon Diggs in year one with the Dallas Cowboys. The highs, well, have been high, and the lows have been rather low. But one things for certain with Diggs, he’s going to be a solid player in the NFL. That’s what makes his possible season-ending foot injury that much harder to swallow for the Dallas Cowboys.
This is where the 2021 NFL Draft could have a massive impact on the Cowboy defensive success for the foreseeable future. Along with the stalled development of Diggs, starting cornerback Chidobe Awuzie is slated to hit free agency at the end of the year, and has been injured for almost the entire year. Jourdan Lewis, the Cowboys starting nickel-corner is also in-line to hit the open market this coming offseason as well. That leaves a big-time hole at the cornerback position for the Cowboys, and sets it up for Trevon Diggs to be the teams best cornerback again in 2021.
Welcome to the 2021 NFL Draft.
As it stands today, the Cowboys are slated to pick in the third slot of the draft, surrounded by a bunch of premium quarterback prospects, a stud offensive lineman, and then a sudden, but minimal drop-off. The need at cornerback, and the possibility of trading back while picking up more picks, and still landing the player you’re likely to take at your original draft-slot is chef’s kiss. It’s still extremely early, but there’s a few names I think we should touch on as possible top sevenish draft picks, as well as potential trade-back candidates that could step in and make an impact on day one.
Patrick Surtain II - Alabama - CB - 6’1” 203lbs
Possessing the ideal size, length, and physical traits, Surtain II is the total package at corner for the Dallas Cowboys. Surtain II is an ideal press-man corner with the smarts to play multiple coverages in the secondary for Mike Nolan/whoever is running the defense in 2021. While some may question the elite-athletic traits of Surtain II, I see little worry with Surtain’s long-speed, burst, and change of direction skills as a boundary corner. Pairing Surtain II and Diggs in the secondary would give the Cowboys two Crimson Tide corners with excellent ball skills, and sky-high ceilings as press-man corners on the outside.
Caleb Farley - Virginia Tech - CB - 6’2” 197lbs
It’s going to be extremely difficult separating Farley and Surtain II throughout the pre-draft process, which is great news for the Cowboys. Similar to Surtain II, Farley possesses ideal length, athleticism, and coverage skills to find early success, with a sky-high ceiling due to his physical and athletic traits. The upside with Farley is that he’s been extremely successful, but he’s still relatively new to the position with only a handful of games played as a corner (injuries & COVID-19 opt-out) There are some injury concerns to be hashed out with Farley, but it’ll be hard to to not fall in love with his tape and potential with Farley and Diggs remaking the Dallas secondary.
Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley(3) has the physical tools to be the next dominant shutdown corner. His ability to click and close is similar to 2020 CB1 Jeff Okudah’s. pic.twitter.com/Y7HHgcZLi6— Matt Valdovinos (@MVScouting) June 9, 2020
Jaycee Horn - South Carolina - CB - 6’1” 205lbs
Let it be known, I absolutely love Jaycee Horn. It’ll be hard to find a player that plays as physical and with as much effort as Horn at South Carolina. Another prime-candidate to find early success as a press-man corner due to his physicality at the line of scrimmage, but it’s doesn’t stop there for Horn. He battles his tail off throughout the route-stem, and at the catch point. For the group of Cowboy fans who want to see more “dogs” on this defense, you’ll love what you see from Jaycee Horn on tape as his on-field mentality screams “I’m an alpha”.
Shaun Wade - Ohio State - CB - 6’1” 194lbs
If you’re a big college football fan, or an Ohio State Buckeyes fan, you’ll know that Wade has had his struggles this year testing the waters of boundary cornerback, after primarily playing in the slot for Ohio State in previous years. While Wade has had his struggles on the outside this year, he’s also had his moments of looking natural on the outside, which makes his value higher due to the position versatility of playing both inside and out. Wade has excellent size for either the slot or the outside, and pairs his size with excellent athleticism to mirror receivers off the ball and stay in tight coverage throughout the stem. Wade could be an intriguing trade-back candidate for the Cowboys, given they’ll have a need at nickel with Jourdan Lewis likely leaving, and Anthony Brown primarily lining up on the outside.
C3 teach tape here by CB Shaun Wade. Look at drop at an angle to stay on top of the post, fall off, and cut off the corner route.— Ted Nguyen (@FB_FilmAnalysis) October 24, 2020
Chefs kiss* pic.twitter.com/wWk0GB76pM
The good thing about this upcoming cornerback class is the Cowboys should have plenty of options in round one if they want to go that direction. The top two guys could be taken in the top ten and not a soul would bat an eye, but it’s nice to have trade-back options, and that’s where Jaycee Horn and Shaun Wade come into play. At the end of the day the Cowboys need to build their secondary to be their strength as that’ll make everything easier for the defense moving forward.