From fifth-round draft pick to starter? It’s not often you see late-round picks earn a starting job as rookies in the NFL, especially with the Dallas Cowboys who love veterans, but that could be the situation DaRon Bland might find himself in right now heading into preseason Week 2 against the Los Angeles Chargers.
With Jourdan Lewis out until at least the season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and with the up-and-down play of Kelvin Joseph and Nahshon Wright, Bland’s impressive and consistent play is gaining quite a bit of attention. So much so, he could already be penciled in as Dallas’ CB3 behind Trevon Diggs and Anthony Brown while Lewis is sidelined.
After being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the fifth-round (167th overall), the former Fresno State CB was a longshot to even make the team after training camp, likely sitting sixth at best on the depth chart. Over the course the offseason, he’s continued to scratch and claw his way towards the top and may have risen as high as No. 3 with Lewis being out. It’s a testament to Bland’s talent and the hard work he’s put in early on at this stage in his rookie career.
As exciting as that may sound, Jourdan Lewis is an established veteran who is considered by many to be one of the better nickel corners in the league. He may not be making as many headlines this offseason as DaRon Bland, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. He’s still highly trusted as the Cowboys slot CB, and as such, probably isn’t worrying too much about his job security.
But here’s no denying Bland has arguably been the Cowboys best and most consistent rookie so far this training camp. Not only that, an argument could be made he’s also been one of the more consistent players overall in the Cowboys secondary this offseason. To say he’s far exceeded expectations thus far would be an understatement.
His stickiness in coverage, whether it be playing in the nickel or on the outside, as well as his willingness to throw his body around in run support is earning him quite a few fans around Cowboys Nation. Because of that, he’s already probably cemented himself as a roster lock. But, where he fits into the equation and what kind of role he will play is still up in the air.
Unless Jourdan Lewis’ hamstring injury lingers into the season, it’s highly unlikely DaRon Bland climbs any higher than CB4 on the Cowboys depth chart this year. Considering where he was drafted and who he has probably already overtaken on the depth chart though, to have risen so high, so early, should be considered a victory in itself. That’s something we can all be thankful for and excited about.