In a normal year, the Cowboys would be gearing up for some heated battles at a couple of positions. Correction: the battle would already be in progress as OTAs and mini-camp would have kicked off the process. But in the year of COVID, nothing is taking the usual course. So will position battles really be battles? Or will veterans win by default?
The retirement of Travis Frederick has opened up a position in the middle of the Cowboys line. In a normal year, there would be an open competition going on between Joe Looney, Tyler Biadasz and Connor McGovern. Adam Redmond and possibly Connor Williams could be throw into the mix, after all Mike McCarthy did mention “the two Connors” a while back when discussing the center position. But Looney, Biadasz and McGovern are the likely candidates.
Looney would be termed the closest thing to an incumbent since he handled the position in Frederick’s absence in 2018. While he was serviceable, there were some issues that year and the Cowboys gave up a huge number of sacks. But continuity being what it is on the line, Looney certainly makes a lot of sense since there will be no preseason games or the usual number of practices/scrimmages in pads that you would normally see.
The lack of all of the regular preseason competition puts Biadasz behind the curve. On talent alone, Biadasz could be the guy. He was widely recognized as among the best centers in college before an injury-filled 2019 knocked his draft status down a bit. The Cowboys were thrilled to be able to get him and in a normal year, he probably would get plenty of opportunity to prove he’s the guy.
McGovern is the wild card. Nobody really knows what they have in the second-year player since he missed basically all of his rookie season. But he comes in as a higher draft pick than Biadasz, and was another player the Cowboys think they stole in the draft. Although guard might be his natural position, you never know until you try. Unfortunately, this year is a bad year to take a look at him at center since the competitive situations will be far and few between.
If you had to guess today, who would be your pick at center for the Cowboys to start the season? Will that same player be the starter at the end of the season?
Another position where there should be plenty of competition is at cornerback. One starter on the outside from 2019, Byron Jones, is no longer with the team. The other starter on the outside, Chidobe Awuzie, has already been discussed as possibly moving to safety. That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. And at the slot position, the Cowboys have two evenly matched players in Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis.
But given the lack of time to prepare new players for the position, could the Cowboys just stick with what they know and roll out Awuzie and Brown on the outside, with Lewis in the slot? Or will a new player force his way in.
Second-round pick Trevon Diggs is the most likely player to grab a spot in the starting defense. He’s got the talent, but will the Cowboys be ready to throw him out there in Week 1 will very little prep time? Again, a normal year of preseason games and padded practices would give the team a much better idea of what they have in Diggs.
Another possibility is Daryl Worley. He has played four years in the NFL and has started 49 games. That’s a lot of experience. So he may he even be a better choice than Diggs. But given that this is his third team in five years, you have to wonder what the issue is there.
Behind that is Reggie Robinson, a talented fourth-round pick who may or may not be ready for life in an NFL secondary. With Maurice Canady opting out, he’s likely the only other guy with a chance to break into the rotation.
Who do you have as the starting three corners to begin the season? Who do you have as the starters to end the year?