There can be no mistaking that the Dallas Cowboys made strides in terms of their overall defense in 2014. However, there is still plenty of room for improvement if the Cowboys are to make it back to the post season in 2015. This is especially glaring in the Dallas secondary.
Obviously, some of the reason for the climb from the bottom of the barrel both in terms of league and franchise rank for Dallas’ defense was due to the success of the Cowboys in keeping the other team’s offense watching from the sidelines. Dallas finished the 2014 regular season ranked first in time of possession by keeping the pigskin for an average of 32 minutes per game.
The bend but don’t break performance of the Cowboys D in 2014 was ranked eighth in the league against the run, but only 26th against the pass for a total ranking of 19th in total defense. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the secondary needs some major help if Dallas expects to be get past the divisional round in 2015.
The Jones’ Boys have used the draft to build one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. If they choose to go that route with the secondary, there are a plethora of players who might fit the bill.
One of them is Michigan State junior Trae Waynes, who is consistently ranked as a top cornerback prospect on prognosticators draft boards. He registered 40 tackles and three interceptions for the Spartans in 2014 and is described as quick and physical.
Another viable option might be P.J. Williams out of Florida State. He was credited with 54 tackles in 2014 and broke up 10 passes. Going back to the Seminoles 2013 championship run, Williams had a crucial fourth quarter interception that aided Florida State in its comeback win in the BCS championship and was voted the defensive MVP of that contest.
If Dallas chooses to go the way of free agency to solve their secondary woes, Denver Bronco Chris Harris, Jr. would be a major coup for the Cowboys. Bringing Harris in would likely mean a massive salary cap hit, however.
With a long list of free agents of their own to sign, most notably running back DeMarco Murray and wide receiver Dez Bryant, landing a high-profile free agent from another team might not be in the budget for the ‘Boys.
The corners on the Cowboys current roster have done little to cement their status with the team going forward. Brandon Carr is scheduled to cost approximately $12 million against the cap after a 2014 in which he failed to post a single interception. Morris Claiborne, who was Dallas’ sixth pick in the 2012 draft, spent the 2014 season sidelined with patellar tendon.
"In addressing the Cowboys’ cornerback concerns recently, Stephen Jones was quoted as saying ,”We’ve got a high cap number with Carr that we’ve got to look at. I think Brandon has played well for us. I think he played better toward the back half of the year. Certainly we’ve got a situation, obviously, there with Mo and his injuries. We’ve got to look at that.”"
Whatever the Dallas decided to do regarding their cornerback conundrum, there are many options to choose from as we head into the long off-season ahead.
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