For the Dallas Cowboys, the cornerback position has been one of the early centers of conversation this offseason. Whether it’s mocking a corner to Dallas at pick 10, or debating whether or not they should re-sign their impending free-agent corners, the position as a whole has left plenty to be discussed.
With new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn in the fold, it’s hard to tell if he, or the Cowboys front office, will feel their defensive free agents fit in well enough with Quinn’s scheme to bring them back. Jourdan Lewis, the 25-year-old corner, may be a perfect example of a guy who has posted some solid production, but just does not fit the mold of what Quinn wants in a cornerback.
There have been some early rumors about a possible reunion between Quinn and former All-Pro corner Richard Sherman in Dallas, but there would have to be interest on both sides to make this a real possibility. The Cowboys have not spent big on a free agent cornerback since signing Brandon Carr in 2012. History shows they will go for cheaper free agents at the position this offseason and attempt to strengthen the group through the draft.
Regardless of what Dallas does at the cornerback spot, they are going to be relying heavily on 23-year-old Trevon Diggs in 2021. In his rookie season, the second-round pick had plenty of ups and downs. Through the first six weeks of the season, Pro Football Focus had Diggs graded with an average coverage score of 50.7. However, you can’t put all that blame on Diggs himself. Some of his struggles in coverage were the result of busted coverages on the defense, and it’s hard to know if one single player was to blame, or the entire defensive was just struggling to understand the scheme.
One thing we did learn about the rookie last season is that he is a great competitor, and Diggs did not let his early-seasons struggles affect the rest of his year. From Week Seven on, he had an average PFF coverage grade of 71.6. His PFF defensive grade of 62.7 was the highest out of any corner on the Cowboys’ roster.
Diggs consistently was able to make plays on the ball, something the Cowboys have been waiting for their cornerbacks to do for years. He became just the second Cowboy since 2015 to intercept three passes in a season and became the only rookie defender in
Cowboys history to lead the team in pass breakups (14) and interceptions (3).
Diggs was able to make history despite missing time with a broken foot. He played in just 12 games, but Diggs’s 14 pass breakups placed him tied for eighth-most in the NFL.
Trevon Diggs has shown flashes this year, but this was brilliant.— Boom or Bust: The Draft Show (@BoomOrBustDraft) January 3, 2021
He stays patient on the double move. Then runs stride for stride with the receiver before making a great play on the ball. pic.twitter.com/cyL6raGw6K
With their current cap situation and plenty of holes to fill on their roster, the Cowboys probably won’t be big players for a top-tier cornerback in free agency. Even if they do select Caleb Farley or Patrick Surtain II at pick 10, Diggs will still most likely enter the season as their top cornerback. This puts a ton of weight on the shoulders of the second-year cornerback.
Trevon Diggs showed flashes in 2020, some good, some bad. In 2021 the Cowboys will need much more of the former. In just his second season, Diggs has a real shot to take over as the Cowboys’ number one cornerback, making him easily one of the most important players on the entire team entering 2021.