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Cowboys roster breakdown: Cornerback has numbers - and one big issue

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The second in the series features a group whose future hinges on one pending free agent.

Dallas Cowboys v New Orleans Saints Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Unlike at safety, the Dallas Cowboys at least have a pretty good number of cornerbacks under contract. Today’s installment of examining the position groups and what needs to be done focuses there. It is a case of having one really big question to answer that will drive what else the team needs.

Currently under contract

  • Jourdan Lewis
  • Chidobe Awuzie
  • D.J. White
  • Deante Burton
  • Chris Westry
  • Donovan Olumba

The numbers are fine for this stage of things. The problem is that there are only two proven players in the bunch, Lewis and Awuzie. Olumba seems to be a favorite of the staff, at least the previous staff. The rest are questionable at best to make the roster.

Current free agents

  • Byron Jones
  • Anthony Brown
  • C.J. Goodwin

And there’s the elephant that’s not currently in the room. Jones is set to enter free agency, and with Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper ahead of him on the priority list, there are questions about whether the team can afford him.

Well, yes, they can, if they want to. Arguments are made that the team would be better moving on to try and get a ball hawk, since Jones has not done well at that. However, by any objective measure, he is one of the best cover men in the league. That still leaves the two to tango conundrum. Jones may want to enter free agency to see just how high his next contract could go. The Cowboys may be able to resolve their other contract situations and have a tag available to use on Jones.

Brown could come back on a low cost deal. He has not been consistent but still can be a pretty good player, especially if he is not a primary starter. Goodwin will probably have to look elsewhere for employment unless his special teams ability saves him.

Available outside free agents

As mentioned in part one of this series, I am using the free agent rankings from NFL Trade Rumors. Before I get into the best available free agent corners, however, I must note that the top one on the list, at number eight overall among all positions, is one Byron Jones. Like I said, the Cowboys have lots of reasons to work out a new deal with the former first-round pick.

After him, the available CBs are as follows, with their age:

  • James Bradberry 27
  • Chris Harris 31
  • Trae Waynes 28
  • Logan Ryan 29
  • Bradley Roby 28
  • Darqueze Dennard 28
  • Troy Hill 29 (if the second year of his deal voids, which it appears it has)
  • Jimmy Smith 32
  • Brian Poole 27
  • Kendall Fuller 25
  • Tramon Williams 37
  • Mackensie Alexander 26
  • Ronald Darby 26 (similar situation to Hill’s)
  • Eli Apple 25

That’s a lot of available talent - but none are even close to as well regarded as Jones. If things don’t work out with him, it seems unlikely the Cowboys would spend much in free agency on one of these names.

Top draft possibilities

Corner is one of the positions that is seen as always being worth some serious draft capital. Even if Jones returns to the fold, there is an excellent chance Dallas will draft a corner. The only question is when? If Jones leaves, it could easily be the day one pick.

Again, this includes the overall ranking according to CBS Sports.

  • 4 Jeff Odukah - Ohio State
  • 18 Christian Fulton - LSU
  • 24 Trevon Diggs - Alabama
  • 25 CJ Henderson - Florida
  • 27 Bryce Hall - Virginia
  • 31 A.J. Terrell - Clemson
  • 37 Jeff Gladney - TCU
  • 53 Damon Arnette - Ohio State
  • 57 Cameron Dantzler - Mississippi State
  • 73 Jaylon Johnson - Utah
  • 74 Noah Igbinoghene - Auburn

Again, a pretty target rich environment, and only Odukah seems out of reach. Otherwise, there are plenty of options for the Cowboys on all three days of the draft.

If I was a betting man, I’d put my money on the Cowboys getting Jones back and then looking hard at day two of the draft to bring in a young talent.