With the Dallas Cowboys currently possessing a 9-3 record early on in December, there aren’t too many concerns surrounding this team at the moment. This team seems to be trending towards matching last year’s 12-5 mark, or surpassing it. There aren’t very many holes in this roster and they have plenty of depth in case on an injury in most places. Unfortunately, one area that was already stretched thin just suffered a big blow in Week 13.
Starting cornerback Anthony Brown tore his Achilles which has ended his season. In Week 7, slot corner Jourdan Lewis made a tremendous play by intercepting Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff. Unfortunately for Lewis, that interception he made was his last down played in 2022 as he suffered a Lisfranc injury on the play. The injury bug eventually effects every team in the league at one point or another, as it is simply unavoidable given the nature of the game of football.
In the last three draft’s alone, Dallas has put a lot of effort in re-tooling its secondary
With injuries causing depth issues along the secondary, the Cowboys, in recent years, have fortunately spent a good amount of draft capital on this particular position group. This past year’s draft, the Cowboys spent one of their four fifth-round picks on cornerback DaRon Bland. In 2021, Dallas went heavy in the secondary as they drafted Kelvin Joseph in the second round, Nahshon Wright in the third round, and Israel Mukuamu in the sixth round. The year prior, in 2020, the franchise found their number one cornerback and 2021 First-Team All-Pro, Trevon Diggs.
A mixed bag of recent draft picks has left the secondary with some questions
Considering how much Dallas has invested in the secondary over the past few years, one would think that this position group would be solid, but there are still some questions about the depth. There have been hits along the way with the Cowboys stealing the talented Trevon Diggs in the second round and they also may have found a gem in DaRon Bland as he has played very well when his number has been called.
There have also been some players who haven’t proven their worth yet. Last year’s second round pick, Kelvin Joseph, and last year’s third round pick, Nahshon Wright, have both had their share of struggles when they have been called into duty. Israel Mukuamu, of the three from the 2021 draft class, has flashed the most in limited action. Mukuamu has mostly been playing safety and is listed as the backup behind Jayron Kearse. However, this could change if Wright or Joseph continue to struggle.
Of the most recent draft picks, which of them will continue to be a part of the franchise’s future?
It is still early on in the careers of Joseph, Wright, Mukuamu, and Bland but so far, Bland has been the best of this grouping. If Joseph and Wright can right the ship and turn things around then depth will not be an issue going forward. The only way to truly find out if players (specifically Joseph and Wright) are good or not is to throw them out there and see what happens.
Veteran help could be on the way, if the in-house draft picks struggle
Dallas also has two players currently on their practice squad that could see some playing time depending on how things shake out. Most recently, the Cowboys added a veteran presence when they signed Mackensie Alexander. Alexander is a former second-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings who has seen action in 84 games since entering the league in 2016 out of Clemson. The other corner on the practice squad just so happened to be drafted by current Cowboys defensive coordinator, Dan Quinn. Quinn, who prior to Dallas was the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, drafted Kendall Sheffield in the fourth round in 2019. Sheffield, who played his college ball at Ohio State University, has played in 38 games since entering the league. He isn’t as experienced as Alexander, but he does have that familiarity factor given his connection with Dan Quinn. Quinn brought Sheffield in for a reason, and it will be interesting to see what Sheffield can bring to the field when he gets his shot.
What better team to work on the issues in the secondary, then the 1-10-1 Houston Texans
Injuries are never a good thing, particularly when it involves players who have been in the starting lineup. Replacing starters isn’t always a smooth transition. Thankfully, the one win Houston Texans are next up which means the kinks in the secondary can be worked out and while it’s being worked out, shouldn’t impact the outcome of the game due to how bad the Texans currently are. Getting the kinks along the secondary figured out against the Texans will be very important come playoff time. In a league that passes as much as it does, having decent players in coverage is very important. The Cowboys do have plenty of options to choose from while piecing together the secondary, and if there is one person who can make things work, it’s defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Lastly, don’t forgot about the elite Cowboys pass rush to help aid an ailing secondary either because if they can continue to get to the quarterback as quickly as they have been all season, then it will help this secondary out immensely.