This past weekend, the Mothership counted down their top 11 cornerbacks on the Cowboys roster as part of their latest position series. There are many question marks with this position group, and the writing staff over there made their best assessments of how it could shake out this season.
Today, a personal re-ranking of the top 10 list.
#10 - Chris Westry
An undrafted free agent from Kentucky, Westry wasn’t able to showcase his stuff due to an injury that landed him on injured reserve. The 6’4” corner has exceptional length with a wingspan of 34 inches. He also comes with 4.3 speed, which fits right into what the Cowboys look for in a corner. He also changes direction well for a guy that lanky, so it should be interesting to see what this coaching staff thinks of him going forward.
#9 - Deante Burton
This undrafted free agent from Kansas State has only played in six games in his NFL career, and in only one of them did he play more than five defensive snaps. But in that one game he did play, he came up with a nice forced fumble against Philadelphia Eagles’ tight end Zach Ertz.
Burton is a wide receiver turned corner, so he’s still growing as a player. The Cowboys poached him off the Indianapolis Colts practice squad after Anthony Brown went down with an injury. He played in three games last season, but only logged 30 total snaps with all but three of them being on special teams. At 6’2” he’s got the size, and being a former receiver, his hands are good, but he has a lot of work to do if he’s going to crack this roster.
#8 - C.J. Goodwin
As far as corners go, Goodwin isn’t going to be high on this list. Despite being in the league for four seasons, he’s only made one career start. Last year, he played in all 16 games for the first time in his career; however, all but 21 of his snaps were on special teams. No one on the Cowboys logged more playing time on specials teams than Goodwin last season.
While Goodwin has great size at 6’3” and runs extremely well, he just doesn’t posses good fundamentals at corner. Similar to Burton, he’s a former wide receiver who converted to corner in hopes of sticking somewhere. Considering the Cowboys were hating life last season on special teams, Goodwin’s value to the team remains high as he should be a key piece in new coach John Fassel’s unit.
#7 - Maurice Canady
A sixth-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2016, Canady has found work as a reserve over the last four seasons. Playing sparingly, he was nice last resort guy for the Ravens, until a rough outing against the Cincinnati Bengals did him in. After giving up 10 catches for over 100 yards, he was released.
While Baltimore had no use for him, the same was not true for the New York Jets as he was one of their better corners last season. It doesn’t say much, but it shows that Canady has the ability to be serviceable. And he’s a quality contributor on special teams so that adds to his appeal. Will that be good enough to make this roster? Tough to say, but for a low-cost signing, he brings with him some good experience.
#6 - Reggie Robinson II
Landing the former Tulsa cornerback in the fourth round of the draft was a steal for the Cowboys as he possesses all the traits the team looks for at the position. He’s tall and has 4.4 speed with really good instincts to make plays on the ball. Robinson still needs work on his technique and can be a little grabby at times, but with good coaching the upside for this guy is high.
In the meantime, he should still play an important role on the team as Robinson is a special teams ace. The addition of Robinson diminishes the value of Goodwin and Canady as both those guys have limitations at corner, whereas the rookie should be a part of the team’s future plans at the position.
#5 - Daryl Worley
When the Eagles got Worley in a trade that sent Torrey Smith to Carolina, it looked like a smart move. It got Philly out from under Smith’s contract (who was likely going to be a cap casualty anyway) and netted them a depth corner in return. Unfortunately, he never played a single down as he was released following an altercation with police the offseason of 2017.
Worley has the size to hang with receivers at the line of scrimmage, but if they get out in front of him, the veteran corner will be in trouble. His recovery speed is terrible, and he’s a big play waiting to happen. On the surface Worley brings about flashbacks of Nolan Carroll. Not just because he’s a former Philadelphia Eagles player, and not because he was also arrested. He’s a veteran player that has experience, but also has had his struggles being consistent over the years, and there will be plays were fans will become enraged with him. And like Carroll, his place on the roster is likely just a bridge until the rookies are ready.
#4 - Jourdan Lewis
Former Michigan corner ranks no. 1 on the Mothership’s list as the love for Lewis is plentiful among Cowboys Nation. Considering he has a knack for showing up at big moments in games, it’s easy to understand why. Lewis has the best ball skills of any corner on the team, and he will close on you in a hurry. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more fiery competitor than Lewis. So, why is not ranked higher?
Well, he comes up short on both of the key physical metrics the Cowboys look for in a cornerback. He’s only 5’10” limiting his ability to contest passes against bigger receivers in the league. That makes him a liability in the red zone. What he lacks in height, he doesn’t make up in speed. He’s got good quickness, but doesn’t posses the long speed to handle the duties of an outside corner. This restricts Lewis breadth to essentially the slot. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great slot corner, but the lack of versatility may keep him as the team’s top reserve.
#3 - Anthony Brown
One of the more underrated players on this team, Brown has found a home as the team’s slot corner. People are well aware of the breakout season Byron Jones had in 2018 as no other corner in the league smothered receivers with the higher percentage of tight window targets. But many forget just how good Brown was that year as well, as he finished fourth in the league in that category just ahead of Jalen Ramsey.
Brown has great speed, which is why he got a shot to handle outside duties in 2018, but he’s proven he’s much more suited for the slot. He doesn’t have the quickness Lewis does, but Brown does a great job recognizing what’s going on around him and does a good job maneuvering through traffic staying with his man. The team recently gave him a three-year extension, so he’s clearly in their plans for the immediate future. Lewis will be right in the mix fighting for that slot corner job, but don’t lose sight of what Brown can do for you.
#2 - Trevon Diggs
Despite not being selected until pick 58, the Alabama star is one of the top corners from the draft. Diggs has great size and is a physical player, but also possess nice agility to go toe-to- toe with receivers. He’s an instinctive player who makes plays on the ball which will be a breath of fresh air for fans hoping to finally see some takeaways.
As with all first-year players, there will be some growing pains for Diggs, but cornerback is a position that some are able to hit the ground running. Does that mean Diggs will be ready to handle one of the starting outside corner spots by the beginning of the regular season? It wouldn’t be surprising to see him earn the job right out of the gate, but there should be nothing standing in the way of him solidifying himself as a regular fixture by the second half of the season. If all goes as planned, the Cowboys have themselves a talented young corner for the next several years.
#1 - Chidobe Awuzie
It’s easy to be unimpressed by Awuzie as nothing he does is spectacular. He’s just a guy that goes out and does his job. Sometimes he makes plays, other times the ball sneaks through. When you look at the total body of work by Awuzie, you’d be looking at what you might expect from a second-round pick. Reliable, but certainly not the shutdown corner some were hoping for.
There has been some talk about moving him to safety, but with 36 starts on his belt, and a fresh new defensive backs coaching staff, it might be wise to keep one of the team’s top outside corners right where he’s at.