Are The Dallas Cowboys Really Better With A Rookie At Corner?


There’s good news and bad news for the Dallas Cowboys following round one of the 2015 NFL Draft:

First, the bad news: The Dallas Cowboys, for the second time in three years, have chosen a first-round cornerback in an NFL draft.

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The good news is that they didn’t also lose another premium draft choice in doing so, like last time.

University of Connecticut defensive back Byron Jones, as head coach Jason Garrett might say, is “the next man up” in a secondary that’s full of question marks.

I more than understand the situation concerning 2014 starting cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne. One’s too expensive and is far from elite. The other cost too much, in other ways, and hasn’t stayed healthy enough to make it through a single training camp since entering the league and doesn’t look to do so this year either.

At this point, even third cornerback Orlando Scandrick is apparently disgruntled by the fact he makes millions of dollars for playing a kid’s game.

Sterling Moore, leader in passes deflected last season, wasn’t re-signed.

Is second-year veteran Tyler Patmon ready to handle a starting job?

So, here’s Jones, owner of the longest broad jump in human history and also a guy with some injury history and positional changes during college with the Huskies.

Just for the record, Dallas seems to have had recent success while drafting another secondary player who didn’t have the most experience at the position he was drafted to play: J.J. Wilcox.

The Wilcox project is still a work in progress, but the third-year safety chalked up three interceptions during his second season in ’14.

Having said that, I’ve never liked the idea of choosing first-round cornerbacks while also not possessing much of a pass rush. This particular position faces probably the most difficult one-on-one matchup, week in and week out, in the NFL. I’ve said before that guys who stand 6’5” and weigh 220, or better, will always have the advantage over men who stand no better than 6’1” and might weigh well under 200 pounds.

Having said that, there’s no doubt that having good corners is an advantage in a league that’s geared more and more towards the passing game.

But in the first round, I’m not looking for a good cornerback – I’m looking for either very good or possibly great.

Yes, Dallas may have really betrayed itself by veering away from its apparent “best player available” philosophy shown over the last few seasons in favor of “drafting for need.”

This is not to say that Jones will not be a good football player at some point, but here’s a guy who might not even start next season. This is a potential reality.

If Jones does end up starting, are the Cowboys actually a better defense with a rookie at corner?

Just for the sake of discussion, Dallas possesses the the distinct possibility of having two first round corners that, for whatever the reasons, are not starting on Week 1 come next season.

This is a pretty dangerous gamble, especially since we’re talking about young first-round selections as opposed to guys who are getting older and probably shouldn’t be in starting roles anyway.

The remainder of the draft will say more about what kind of impact Jones might have this coming season. He certainly will have every opportunity to beat out any one of a few colleagues for playing time, right?

Or, perhaps Jones is a wild card at free safety if he picks things up quickly and gains a little weight, seeing as how he also has experience there. This might be an easier spot for him to transition to at the next level.

Either way, Dallas still has work to be done elsewhere on this defense and possibly even at running back.

Priorities are most often best addressed in the first round of the annual player selection meeting, as opposed to later. I’ll always believe that championship defenses are built from the inside out, not the other way around.

Dallas does know that they have, for the next five years anyway, a highly athletic and dynamic player to add to the back end. The franchise does, however, hope that it doesn’t get kicked in the same spot because it still can’t get consistent heat on opposing quarterbacks.

Next: Jason Garrett: Byron Jones Could Play Cornerback Or Safety