The Dallas Cowboys suffered a massive hit to the secondary early in the season, losing CB Trevon Diggs for the remainder of the 2023 season after tearing his ACL in practice. At the time, the injury felt like a gut-punch for the Cowboys, as Diggs had been a key player for the Cowboys in their dominant 2-0 start to the season. Losing Diggs not only hurt because of the type of player Diggs is, but there was a lot of excitement heading into the season about how complete the secondary was. Having Diggs and CB Stephon Gilmore on the outside, along with CB DaRon Bland in the slot, gave the Cowboys what appeared as the most complete cornerback room in the NFL.
With Diggs going down for the season, Dan Quinn had to call an audible for the defense, moving Bland to the outside cornerback position opposite of Gilmore. Bland had made a name for himself in his rookie year with the Cowboys, leading the team in interceptions in 2022 with five.
Since moving to the outside, Bland has played even better for the Cowboys than he did last year. Bland is having a historical 2023 season, already having five interceptions through nine games, with three of them being returned for a touchdown. His three pick-six’s is a franchise record, and is only one behind tying a NFL record for most in a season (four). Three players have had four in a season throughout NFL history: Philadelphia Eagles CB Eric Allen (1993), Kansas City Chiefs S Jim Kearney (1972), and Houston Oilers S Ken Houston (1971). Bland has eight more games to try and join a premier club of defensive backs.
Not only has bland done a good job filling Diggs’ role of being a ball-hawk on the outside, he is also locking down wide receivers and rarely getting beat in coverage.
DaRon Bland in single coverage:— PFF (@PFF) November 1, 2023
89.9 coverage grade (1st)
6 catches allowed
6 forced incompletions
7.5 passer rating allowed pic.twitter.com/jfW7XZuX4D
Since being drafted in 2022 in the fifth-round by the Cowboys, Bland has 10 interceptions. That is the most in the NFL during that span. At just 24 years of age, Bland is proving to be one of the best players on the Cowboys, as well as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. At the rate that he is playing at, he should be an All-Pro player by the conclusion of the season. The Cowboys have one of the best young duos at the cornerback position in the NFL in Bland and Diggs. While the future is shining bright at the position, Bland will continue holding it down and locking up the secondary while Diggs nurses his injury this year and makes his recovery.