As a whole, the Dallas Cowboys' secondary was a mess last season. However, one bright spot was the play of second-round pick Trevon Diggs. Entering year two, Diggs will have an even bigger role to fill on the defense.
We continue our player profile series by breaking down Diggs’ rookie year and looking forward to his potential in 2021.
Contract Status: Rookie deal, signed through the 2023 season. UFA in 2024. (Via Spotrac)
2020 Review: When the Cowboys left Byron Jones walk in free agency after the 2019 season, they knew they had to find his potential successor in the 2020 NFL Draft. Lucky for the Cowboys, Alabama cornerback Trevon Diggs fell all the way to pick 51. Diggs and the Cowboys seemed like a perfect match, but the cornerbacks' rookie year got off to a rocky start.
Through the first six games of the 2020 season, Diggs was struggling. Playing on a defense that as a whole was one of the worst in football definitely contributed to his performance, but individually he was struggling as well. Six games in, the rookie cornerback had a PFF coverage grade of 50.76, an extremely poor mark. He also allowed 25 receptions for an alarming 385 yards in those games.
Diggs was struggling to acclimate himself to the NFL game, but in Week 7 against Washington, he started to turn things around. Despite allowing one catch that went for a touchdown, Diggs posted a 68.0 PFF coverage grade, the best so far of his short NFL career. He carried this over into next week against Philadelphia in which he had by far his best showing of the season. Diggs hauled in two interceptions and posted a coverage grade of 91.6.
Diggs was finally adjusting to the NFL level, but in Week 9 adversity hit. The cornerback suffered a hairline fracture in his foot, keeping him out until Week 15. When Diggs returned, he continued to play at a fairly high level. He had coverage grades above 63 in the final three games of the regular season and recorded another interception and four PBUs.
You can’t play lower hip much better than Trevon Diggs did here. Hell, I thought it was 2-man under the way he played this. Saw the replay and they had a single high safety. Terrific job with his eyes here. Great eyes! Read him down like a book. @TrevonDiggs pic.twitter.com/NcDQMoGu0d— Crocky⚡️ (@eric_crocker) January 3, 2021
2021 Outlook: Coming into the 2021 season, expectations are high for the second-year defender. Diggs is the undisputed number one cornerback on the Cowboys roster and his individual performance will have a large impact on the defense as a whole. Good or bad, the cornerback’s overall play will be directly tied to how the defense performs.
Something Diggs will have to be better with in 2021 is not surrendering the deep ball. The Cowboys' defense as a whole struggled with that last season, but Diggs in particular seemed to be picked on by opponents. The cornerback allowed six passes of 30 yards or more, which can be backbreaking plays for a defense.
Overall Review: From Week 1 to Week 17, Trevon Diggs looked like a different player. Diggs was able to make a big jump in his performance during his rookie year, and he should do the same this year. With a full NFL season under his belt, he likely will be able to get out of the gates quickly and not struggle to start the year like he did last season.
Diggs showed he has all the physical tools to be a dominant cornerback in this league. If he’s able to build upon his performance during his final six games of 2020, he has a chance to become one of the league’s best young corners in 2021.