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5 cornerbacks the Cowboys should look into on Day 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft

A surplus of players with the right kind of traits could be available late in the draft for the Cowboys.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 02 Reese’s Senior Bowl Practice Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys have six picks on Day 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft, and on typical drafts, such a thing wouldn’t be something to get excited about. However, this class goes a little deeper in talent and there should some good options beyond the top 100 players. In particular, there is an overabundance of cornerback options in that range. This is a prime opportunity for the Cowboys to address the position, but who are they likely to target?

With only one corner on their pre-draft visitor list, that doesn’t give us a lot to work with, but that won’t stop us from trying to CSI this thing. Let’s examine our lone piece of evidence and see if we can create a shopping list of cornerback unsubs.

Daron Bland, Fresno State

Bland only played one season at Fresno State after spending the previous three years at Sacramento State. He has moderate ball production and isn’t overly twitched up, so why would the Cowboys be interested in him?

At 6’0”, 197 pounds, he has decent size, but his 76 34 wingspan helps him smother receivers. He’s got 4.46 speed that allows him to hang with his man. Bland is a physical player who doesn’t back down and shows really good vision to see how the play develops. His draft projection is late-round/priority free agent.

So, if we are to predict the potential cornerback draft target off of this one pre-draft visitor, then it would be wise to remember is that length, physicality, and vision are super important, speed is nice to have, but a smooth change of direction and a nice history of college production are not as critical. Let’s try to match this up the best we can.

Damarri Mathis, Pittsburgh

One of my personal favorite Day 3 sleepers, Mathis has some very good tape. Coming in just a smidge under six-foot, he almost wasn’t considered a match, but an impressive 77 12 wingspan saved his bacon. He also leaped out of the gym with an impressive 43.5-inch vertical at his pro day. He’s 196 pounds, so his frame is similar to Bland, and he matches his other traits to a tee.

Mathis is a physical player who brings a lot of pop to his tackling and loves to use his hands to jam the receiver and redirect his path. He loves to smother, but there are times he will get up in their business a little too early leading to a heavy dose of penalties last season. He’s broken up 21 passes over his past two seasons, so there is both good and bad with his uber-aggressiveness. Mathis comes with both quickness and 4.39 speed, so that’s a bonus.

Draft position: Fourth round

Alontae Taylor, Tennessee

We first mentioned Taylor as a potential Day 3 hidden gem a month ago, so it brings great satisfaction that his attributes fit the profile. Starting off with the measurables, Taylor has the ideal size they are looking for at 6’1”, 199 pounds with a wingspan of 75 1/8. He has fabulous 4.36 speed to run down players. He’s extremely competitive and a physical player who loves to attack.

Taylor came to Tennessee as a wide receiver but left as a four-year starting corner. He is still learning and his decision-making ability needs to improve, but there is no shortage of confidence with this one. He may sashay at times to give off a pompous vibe, but he’s a high-character guy who was vice chair on the SEC leadership council. He’s not a fluid mover, but as we indicated earlier, that’s okay. His awareness isn’t at the level we’d hope for to get a perfect match, but he still checks off a lot of boxes.

Draft position: Fourth round

Tariq Castro-Fields, Penn State

Castro-Fields has very similar measurables to Mathis as he stands 6’0”, 197 pounds with a 76-inch wingspan. Looking at his tape, he didn’t really stand out as he appeared more like a first responder rather than a corner who makes plays, so it wasn’t surprising to see his stats be a little light these past two seasons, although he did have 10 passes defended in 2019.

Despite the unimpressive numbers, the Nittany Lions trusted him to handle the outside corner duties for 52 college games where he only gave up three total touchdowns. So clearly, somebody likes him and it’s because his traits offer some dependability at the position. He’s a little rigid in transition, but he’s got great 4.38 make-up speed. He plays with a high level of aggression and his toughness is unparalleled. The traits and physical measurables are a match, so we’re going to swipe right with this one.

Draft position: Fourth round

Joshua Williams, Fayetteville State

There’s a lot of Nashon Wright in what Williams provides as he’s a lanky player who doesn’t have the strength to win early or the recovery speed to win late. And considering Williams played for a college that sounds like it was made up for the latest Scream movie, he could also be one of those “who is that guy” selections.

Having said that, Williams offers some intriguing traits. At 6’2”, 195 pounds and a wingspan of 77 34 inches, he has great length. He’s very calm and collected throughout his coverage and shows good footwork to burst on the scene when it matters. He didn’t start playing the position until he was a senior in high school so there is still some development to be had; however, he’s a small-school prospect, so that’s a big thing working against him when it comes to the Cowboys calling his name. Even still, he’s got the right type of traits the team is looking for.

Draft position: Fifth round

Jaylen Watson, Washington State

Watson is very similar to Williams as they have similar builds and lack FCS experience. While Williams has none, Watson did play 15 games for Washington State, but before that spent a couple of years at Ventura College, which may or may not be the college that Zack, Kelly, and Screech attended after they graduated from Bayside (it’s not).

Without sounding like a broken record, we’ll just say Watson does all the things the others do. While he does show the ability to smother, he can be passive off the line of scrimmage and sometimes seems like he’s just chasing. His 4.51 speed offers very little recovery ability. He’s still a raw player who has a lot of room to grow, and the blend of size and athletic traits offers teams a lot to work with.

Draft position: Fifth round