The Dallas Cowboys rookie that is garnering the most attention and hype this offseason has been wide receive CeeDee Lamb. Lamb is a unique talent at the wide receiver position that has a real chance to help take the Cowboys offense to the next level thanks to his special ball skills and yards-after-catch ability.
There is a lot of excitement about the Cowboys’ first-round draft selection, and how the pair of Mike McCarthy and Kellen Moore will utilize the former Oklahoma Sooners wideout during the upcoming season. Needless to say, defenses will have their hands full when defending all of the weapons that Dak Prescott has at his disposal.
On the defensive side of the ball, there is also a rookie worth getting excited and being optimistic about: second-round draft selection Trevon Diggs.
The former Alabama wide receiver-turned-cornerback was reportedly in consideration for the Cowboys’ first-round draft choice if the draft fell a certain way; instead, Dallas was able to grab Stefon Diggs’ younger brother outside of the first 50 picks, which was considered tremendous value.
A big reason why Diggs was valued by the Cowboys is because there is a glaring need in the secondary. Pro Bowl corner Byron Jones left in free agency and signed a massive deal with the Miami Dolphins, leaving a hole at the team’s top corner spot. 2017 second-round pick Chidobe Awuzie was up-and-down in coverage last season, Jourdan Lewis does not appear to fit the mold that Al Harris wants in his defensive backs, and Anthony Brown is coming off of an injury that ended his 2019 season prematurely.
This gives Diggs, along with fellow rookie corner Reggie Robinson II, an opportunity to compete for immediate playing time this upcoming season. The Cowboys need reinforcements in the back-end of their defense in order to truly compete for a division title and a playoff berth.
NFL.com columnist Jeffri Chadiha wrote an article listing five rookies that need to succeed for their respective team in 2020. Landing second on the list is the Cowboys’ second-round pick.
2. Trevon Diggs, CB, Dallas Cowboys
Diggs is showing up at exactly the right time for the Cowboys. The departure of cornerback Byron Jones, a 2018 Pro Bowl selectee who signed a five-year, $82.5 million deal with Miami in March, left the Cowboys with only one player at that position who had been a full-time starter (Chidobe Awuzie). Dallas still has Jourdan Lewis (primarily a slot corner) and Anthony Brown (who was re-signed to a three-year deal this offseason) but Diggs is the guy who looks most like a true replacement for Jones. At 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, Diggs offers similar length and he loves to challenge receivers in press coverage. Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy also raves about the way he attacks the ball in coverage.
Diggs actually started his career at Alabama as a wide receiver/defensive back, and his brother is current Buffalo Bills wideout Stefon Diggs. Even though he had just four interceptions in college, Trevon’s soft hands and natural instincts will come in handy in Dallas. The Cowboys ranked 10th in the NFL in passing yards allowed in 2019 but their seven interceptions tied them for last in the league. They’re also opening this season with four straight games against opponents who will look to challenge their secondary (the Rams, Falcons, Seahawks and Browns). A quick maturation for Diggs — who fell to the second round after being considered a first-round talent — would make a world of difference.
As Chadiha mentioned, Diggs possesses the size and length that the new coaching staff seems to have their eyes on since taking over in January. Diggs measured in with 32 3/4” arms at the NFL Scouting Combine to go along with his 6-foot-2, 195 pound frame, good for 90th-percentile according to mockdraftable.com.
Diggs’ length is not just for show or looks. The Alabama product uses his lengthy frame to his advantage to deflect passes in the air and show off impressive ball skills, even if he may be a step behind.
This is why arm length matters. pic.twitter.com/voKzrrVKN3— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) April 14, 2020
As mentioned previously, Diggs is the younger brother of current Buffalo Bills wideout Stefon Diggs, and the younger Diggs is a former wide receiver in his own right. As a result, he is able to use his pass-catching background and experience while in coverage.
The biggest knock on Cowboys defensive backs have been their ability — or lack thereof — to get their heads around and find the football in the air. That is not a problem for Diggs at all, as he consistently showed the ability to track the ball, find it, and come down with it during his time playing in Nick Saban’s secondary in Tuscaloosa.
This is what you love about Trevon Diggs. Turns his head, finds the football and comes down with the INT. pic.twitter.com/gJXlKvVc5N— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) April 14, 2020
Did we mention that his ball skills are good? Trevon Diggs came down with three interceptions for the Crimson Tide last season, adding eight pass deflections on the year. He nearly had a fourth INT:
Trevon Diggs ball skills are crazy good. Almost made a miraculous INT here. pic.twitter.com/5jX1JseZqP— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) November 16, 2019
One of the things that stands out about the former Alabama defensive back is that he is a natural playmaker. Diggs came up with five takeaways during his final season on the college level (three interceptions, two fumble recoveries) and scored a pair of touchdowns for the Tide.
Alabama CB Trevon Diggs has really started to come into his own. Back-to-back weeks with a defensive TD and showing off the speed here. pic.twitter.com/rbbm7FCwDS— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) October 27, 2019
Diggs has his warts and is not a perfect prospect or finished product just yet, but he does offer some intriguing upside due to his size and lengthy frame, speed and playmaking ability, wide receiver background, and natural ball skills for defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and the defensive staff to work with and mold.
It remains to be seen how successful the rookie defensive back will be during his initial season on the professional level, but Trevon Diggs will have his chance to make an immediate impact for America’s Team almost right out of the gate.
The Cowboys have been emphasizing playmaking and creating turnovers this offseason. Diggs has the chance to be the solution to that for Dallas and help improve a defense that has struggled creating takeaways.