The Dallas Cowboys secondary has been a thorn in the side of the defense for years, mainly the cornerback position. Injuries and a lack of depth at the cornerback position, or just a lack of talent with the ability to cover receivers, the secondary has been an issue. The Cowboys always seemed to be in the market for a starting cornerback and have spent a lot of resources drafting players to boost the back-end.
Every season seemed to bring a new challenge to the position until the Cowboys coaching staff finally moved Byron Jones from safety to cornerback. From that point on, the Cowboys had themselves a tall, physical corner that was able to handle covering the top receivers on opposing offenses.
The Old: Byron Jones
Byron Jones exploded on the scene at the NFL combine catching the eye of the Cowboys and the rest of the NFL with his athleticism. When he was taken by the Cowboys, the coaching staff wasn’t quite sure where to play him, shuffling him between corner and safety until finally deciding to play him at safety. While Jones was good at covering the slower tight ends, his calling was actually to play cornerback and the Cowboys finally made that move. With the receivers around the league getting bigger and faster, Jones seemed the perfect fit to cover these receivers thanks to his physical style of play and length.
Unfortunately for the Cowboys, Jones played so well at corner that he played himself out of the Cowboys price range. This forced the Cowboys to look towards the draft to find a replacement for the production they were losing with Jones leaving in free agency. Lucky for them, this draft class was full of cornerbacks that have the potential to become the next Jones for them. Things got even better as they were able to find one in the second round.
The New: Trevon Diggs
No one could have imagined how the chips would fall in the Cowboys’ favor throughout the entire 2020 draft. No one expected their second-round pick to be a first-round talent in Trevon Diggs. Seen by many as a first-round pick, Diggs fits the bill of a Jones replacement. He’s tall enough to cover the biggest of receivers, has the size to be physical and jam receivers at the line of scrimmage, and possesses the speed to recover and make plays on the ball.
He also has a leg up on many other cornerbacks coming into the NFL as his brother, Stefon Diggs, is one of the best receivers in the league and Trevon’s been able to train with him and learn the NFL receivers route tree. You put that together with his affinity for press man coverage and you have the makings of a player that can lead the Cowboys secondary for years to come. It will be tough to replace Jones but Diggs has said all the right things and seems up for the challenge. It will obviously take a little time for Diggs to develop his game; rookie corners almost always have rocky first seasons. But the long-term prospects look very good.
Diggs has the potential to be a staple of the Cowboys defense for years to come thanks to his physical abilities and his drive to be the best at his craft. But, until he shows it on the field the Cowboys can only hope that he can, and that they didn’t make a mistake letting Jones hit the open market.