Ask someone to name a versatile defensive back on the Dallas Cowboys roster and chances are they’ll name Byron Jones. The 2015 first round draft pick does indeed bring versatility to the side. While he’s trained largely at cornerback, many predict his long term future for the team will be as an athletic safety.
In this case though, the player I’m referring to is Corey White. With veterans Orlando Scandrick and Brandon Carr both absent for the first preseason game through injury and Mo Claiborne not yet ready to play it was 25 year old White who made the big plays in Thursdays game against the San Diego Chargers.
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White was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the 5th round of the 2012 draft; the 28th defensive back taken that year. In three seasons with the Saints he played in 41 games, making 108 tackles, 4 interceptions, a forced fumble and a sack. Morris Claiborne was the number one defensive back drafted that year and in the same period he’s played in 29 games, made 72 tackles, 3 interceptions and 1 forced fumble.
The Saints waived White and he was subsequently picked up by the Cowboys in March. Rod Marinelli’s well known for his love of players with positional flex. Jeremy Mincey, Jack Crawford, Greg Hardy have lined up right across the defensive line already this Summer. Alongside Byron Jones, White provides legitimate cover for Barry Church or J.J. Wilcox.
"“They kind of told me I’d be playing a lot of safety, corner, nickel, dime- everything. They let me know I was going to do all that, and I don’t have a problem with that. Whatever helps this team, I’m going to do it.” – Corey White on his versatility"
In San Diego on Thursday White got his chance at cornerback and he impressed fans and media alike. In man coverage he was excellent when up against receiver Keenan Allen; breaking up a play on fourth down that so nearly resulted in a pick. Before that he nearly picked off a Kellen Clemens pass to Austin Pettis. His post game comments are as bigger indication as any that he is a Jason Garrett right kind of guy.
"“I should have had two picks – I played terrible. I could have had picks. PBU’s don’t mean nothing in this game – get picks.”"
Football analyst for the Cowboys Bryan Broaddus seems intrigued by what White could bring to the team by writing about the defensive back in his scouts notebook this week;
"“What is interesting about White, other than his versatility, is his ability to also play well, whether he is in press man or in off coverage – which he showed the ability to do both.”"
After Thursday nights game, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli reflected on White’s performance in a more positive manner than the player himself;
"“He’s got really good instincts. He’s got good speed. He’s a two-position player. He can play inside. He can play outside. He’s done some solid things all the way through camp.”"
But what does White feel his chances are of staying on the team? What does he think he needs to do?
"“If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re not going to be here…That’s the No. 1 thing, and Garrett hit on it the most…I spend a lot of time in my playbook, watching film from last year and seeing how these guys do it, see how they play it and try to adapt to them.” – Corey White"
While Byron Jones was expected to be the versatile defensive back of the team this year, don’t rule out White yet. It’s been a long time since J.J. Willcox has impressed and with injuries to the stalwarts of Carr and Scandrick there is a need for that plug and play style of player. White could just well be that.