Last season was trial by fire for Trevon Diggs. The top young prospect in a bad secondary, he was routinely tasked lining up opposite some of the game’s best receivers. The result was a rookie campaign filled with ups and downs, but what could not be mistaken was Diggs’ athletic promise —promise that suggested he had the physical tools to become an elite corner with time.
As shown throughout training camp and ‘Hard Knocks,’ Diggs never shied away from the moment, challenging anyone he lined up against, including Amari Cooper, and daring them to try and snatch a ball against him. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. Regardless, it’s exactly the kind of attitude you want to from your top corner.
Thursday night, Diggs faced his first challenge of the season, lining up opposite and shadowing Mike Evans. The result? Diggs balled out.
Trevon Diggs shadowed Mike Evans, aligning across from him on 39 of his 47 routes (83%).— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) September 10, 2021
Diggs allowed just 1 reception for 10 yards on 3 targets, and aligned in press coverage on over half of his routes vs Evans (51% press).#DALvsTB | #DallasCowboys pic.twitter.com/jp3kSKBSSh
Of Evans’ 47 routes run, Diggs lined up across from him 39 times, allowing just one reception for 10 yards on three targets. Evans finished the game with a grade of 54.9, while Diggs recorded a grade of 74.0, according to PFF.
That’s some seriously effective coverage against a talented wideout. In total, Diggs faced five targets, yielding the one catch while breaking up two passes and intercepting another in a flash of athletic brilliance. He also had another near-pick late in the game that could have sealed the game for the Cowboys, though the mere ability to layout and nearly haul in a fingertips INT was spectacular in its own right.
While Diggs was among the most impressive Cowboys in the opener, it’s likely he’ll still face his share of ups and downs as he develops. As a rookie, he allowed 46 completions for 667 yards at a rate of 54.8%, giving up five touchdowns while intercepting three passes in the process. Ups and downs.
If Diggs’ opening statement was any indication of what’s to come, those who proclaimed him to be one of the next elite corners would be validated. Even if he’s not quite there yet, he brings a play-making ability to the secondary Dallas has been starved for in recent years.
Byron Jones could lock receivers down but struggled to produce takeaways. Chidobe Awuzie struggled to find consistency and stay healthy. Jourdan Lewis, well, he’s around. And he’s had some nice moments over his four seasons.
Diggs is capable of delivering the best of each of these players. Jones’ coverage prowess; Awuzie’s athleticism; and Lewis’ ball skills. The fact that he also appears generally reliable in terms of health is a reassuring bonus.