For the last few years, the Dallas Cowboys have suffered from miserable cornerback play. While that might not change in 2014, Terrance Mitchell is one young cover man who could eventually force his way into some playing time.
Mitchell, one of the Cowboys’ 2014 seventh-round picks, has all of the natural ability to be a starter in the NFL. Unfortunately, the current cornerback situation in Dallas might not allow him to see the field anytime soon.
Put simply, the Cowboys aren’t going to bench a former first-round pick or a high-profile free agent signing for a seventh-rounder. Until they’re no longer on the team, Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr are essentially locked into significant roles.
Claiborne has nearly been labeled a bust since the Cowboys made him the No. 6 overall pick in 2012, but Jerry Jones isn’t going to give up on his top selection this early. Carr came to town in 2012 on a five-year, $50.1 million deal, which means he’s not riding the bench anytime soon either. Basically, it’s another case of the Cowboys being the Cowboys.
Still, at some point, it’s going to be hard for Dallas to keep a talented player like Mitchell on the bench.
An Oregon product with tremendous instincts and improving technique in coverage, Mitchell watched his draft stock plummet due to a poor Combine showing, short arms and small hands. When you put aside the measurables, though, you see a tough, attacking cornerback with a knack for making big plays. Some questioned his decision to leave school early, but the potential is obviously there for him to develop into a starter.
With Claiborne, Carr and Orlando Scandrick already slated to see significant snaps in 2014, Mitchell could easily play his way into the No. 4 spot with strong training camp and preseason showings. His toughest competition for the job is B.W. Webb, who wasn’t exactly impressive last season as a rookie.
If Mitchell can live up to his potential, the Cowboys will eventually be forced to put him into a starting role. He still has a lot to learn about playing cornerback in the NFL, but his instincts, athleticism and aggressiveness in coverage could make him the best player the Cowboys currently have at the position.
Only time will tell.