It won’t be easy for the Cowboys to replace former Pro Bowl cornerback Byron Jones but you have to credit them for trying. Just days ago, the Cowboys drafted Trevon Diggs, the lengthy cornerback with receiver-like hands from Alabama in the second round. On day three, the Cowboys seemingly stole one with their fourth-round selection of Tulsa cornerback Reggie Robinson. Those two rookies join a cornerback room featuring Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Anthony Brown, and recently signed free agent Maurice Canady. If that wasn’t enough, the Cowboys decided to add veteran cornerback Daryl Worley to a suddenly crowded and talented cornerback room.
Adding another corner like Worley with NFL size and length suggests that the Cowboys are preparing to remake this cornerback room in the vision of Mike Nolan. The newly hired defensive backs coaches, Maurice Linguist and Al Harris, teach a more press-man coverage scheme, focusing on disruption at the line of scrimmage and moving away from zone philosophies. In the days following the draft, we have already heard the coaches praise the length and press-man skill sets with rookies Diggs and Robinson. What does this suggest for the guys Awuzie, Lewis, and Brown?
Anthony Brown must have some future with the club seeing how they re-signed him this offseason and his length fits the same mold as the new faces at cornerback in Dallas. Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie enter 2020 on the final year of their rookie contracts and their futures are all but certain. Mike McCarthy hinted in his post-draft comments that they feel confident one or more of their cornerbacks could move to safety. Will McClay confirmed that McCarthy was referencing Chidobe Awuzie as the prime candidate for a move to safety in his comments to the media. Though Awuzie has made strides in his development, he still has issues turning his head to locate the football. Perhaps a move to safety, where his prime assignments would remain in front of him could help Awuzie find his fit? Jourdan Lewis will get an opportunity to fight it out for a role covering in the slot but competition just got much stiffer.
A few weeks ago, Worley was on a list of free agent veteran cornerbacks that we thought wouldn’t hurt to reach out to prior to the draft. Worley was drafted by the Panthers in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft and spent two year’s with the club. In 2018, the Panthers traded Worley to the Eagles but he was released a month later. Worley eventually landed with the Raiders. This past season, he played 15 games and 90% of the defensive snaps in Oakland. He also contributed 23% of the snaps on special teams as well in 2019. In two seasons with the Raiders, Worley made 24 starts, had 81 tackles, 15 pass breakups, two interceptions, and a fumble recovery.
Though Worley has never been a Pro Bowl caliber defender, he’s started a lot of games in this league and has put up decent production. The addition of Daryl Worley is a solid depth signing at the very least but he also protects the Cowboys, should one of the rookies not be quite ready to contribute a full workload.