At first glance, the Dallas Cowboys’ most recent roster move might seem like a meaningless one to the average football fan, but it’s actually a crucial addition that greatly improves the team as a whole. On Tuesday, the Cowboys claimed former fourth-round pick Akwasi Owusu-Ansah off waivers from the Jacksonville Jaguars. This gives Dallas invaluable depth at in the secondary and another option in the return game.
Dallas drafted Owusu-Ansah in 2010 out of Indiana Pennsylvania University as a very athletic, smart safety with huge upside as an overall football player. He played some there and as a return man, but was hobbled by injury and eventually was cut. After being picked up by the Jaguars in November, Owusu-Ansah played four games for Jacksonville in 2011, recording 14 tackles.
The Cowboys have several options at safety heading into 2012, but Owusu-Ansah’s value doesn’t come at that position. Coming out of college, Owusu-Ansah was regarded as a safety that was fast enough to play cornerback, which is where he’ll eventually be of the most value to Dallas.
The Cowboys now have four cornerbacks on the active roster in veteran starters Brandon Carr and Mike Jenkins, No. 3 Orlando Scandrick and 2012 No. 6 overall draft pick Morris Claiborne. Carr and Claiborne will be the team’s unquestioned starters by the end of the upcoming season, but Jenkins will be gone by this time next year. That means Dallas needs depth at cornerback for the future and Owusu-Ansah fills that void.
The Cowboys’ eventual secondary depth chart will look something like this:
LCB: Morris Claiborne, Orlando Scandrick
FS: Gerald Sensabaugh, Danny McCray
SS: Barry Church/Brodney Pool/Matt Johnson
RCB: Brandon Carr, Mario Butler
Notice that Owusu-Ansah’s name is not there. That’s because he’ll be able to play anywhere in the secondary and he’ll serve as a backup for all positions. Chuch, Pool and Johnson will fight for the starting strong safety spot this year and the loser of Church and Pool will likely leave via free agency. With Johnson or Church (most likely) manning the No. 2 spot from then on, Owusu-Ansah will be used freely at all four secondary positions and even fifth, sixth and seventh spots in Rob Ryan’s unique scheme.
In short, Owusu-Ansah provides flexible depth in the secondary, which is critical for a team like Dallas that has struggled to defend the pass in recent years. The addition of Owusu-Ansah may not seem important now, but it will.