For the past two seasons, the Dallas Cowboys defense has been a big part of their demise. In particular, their secondary has faltered. Even more particular, the Cowboys cornerbacks have been a huge part of their defensive problems. Heading into the off-season, the Cowboys knew they needed help in their secondary and that’s exactly what they got.
Gone are the old (Terence Newman) and just plain bad (Alan Ball) cornerbacks. In arrives the Cowboys prized free agent pickup, Brandon Carr, and prized rookie draft pick Morris Claiborne. Add those two players up with the returning Mike Jenkins and slot specialist Orlando Scandrick and the Cowboys believe they have the depth and skill to be one of the best secondaries in the NFL. And it’s hard to argue against them.
Rob Ryan’s defensive system is built on being physical, something that Terence Newman was not known for. I think all Cowboys fans had seen enough of Newman playing 8-yards off his man and making the tackle after his receiver caught the ball in front of him. Brandon Carr is the perfect fit for Ryan’s physical style of play. He loves to try and rough up the receiver before they are able to get into their route. Did they overpay for Carr, they sure did, but as Jerry Jones pointed out, that’s the going rate for top rated cornerbacks.
The secondary was also void of play makers, so they drafted Morris Claiborne out of LSU to help make plays. Claiborne has great ball skills and had six interceptions in 2011, to go along with five in 2010. Scouts love his athleticism and his ability to go after the ball in the air. They needed a ball hawk and they got one.
If you couple those two additions with Mike Jenkins, who as of right now will not be traded, and Orlando Scandrick, the Cowboys cornerback situation looks very good. Jenkins is a good corner who offers outstanding value if he is the Cowboys fourth CB. Dallas also has the increasingly important slot cornerback spot filled with Orlando Scandrick. He’s had his ups and downs but the Cowboys believe in him and need him to have an “up” year.
Not only are the Cowboys in good position this year at cornerback, they are also well positioned for the future as well. Carr, Claiborne and Scandrick will be under contract to play together for at least four seasons (which will happen when Claiborne signs his rookie deal) to solidify the cornerback position for years to come. Only Mike Jenkins isn’t signed to a long term deal, which seems unlikely at this point. But for this year, the Cowboys should have an extrememly solid and productive group of cornerbacks.
If you’ve watched the Cowboys the past few years, you know they needed an upgrade at cornerback. This appears to be the first time in a long time the Cowboys can feel good about themselves at a key position which has haunted them for too long. Now if they could only do the same at safety?