Can a rookie cornerback help turn the tide of turnovers for the Dallas Cowboys defense this season?
It’s been a longtime since the Dallas Cowboys had an outright regime change within their defensive secondary. In fact, it was between the years 2011 and 2012 that Dallas parted ways with veterans like cornerbacks Terence Newman, Mike Jenkins and safety Gerald Sensabaugh.
They where replaced by youngsters like Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne at corner. And at safety, Barry Church. Unfortunately, those sweeping changes did little to actually improve the Cowboys overall passing defense.
After ranking 23rd in the NFL in team passing defense in 2011, that ranking only rose to 19th the following year. The group graded out as the 30th worst passing defense in 2013 and just 26th in 2014.
But this offseason, the trio of Carr, Claiborne and Church all found new homes via free agency. And Dallas was forced to enact yet another regime change within their defensive secondary.
First, the Cowboys signed free agent cornerback Nolan Carroll to add to their existing roster of veteran Orlando Scandrick and second-year phenom Anthony Brown. Then Dallas turned it’s attention to the NFL Draft. Using seven of their nine draft selections on the defensive side of the ball, the Cowboys acquired four more defensive backs.
Colorado defensive back Chidobe Awuzie was selected in the second round. And Michigan cornerback Jourdan Lewis was taken in the third. Dallas also added Louisiana Tech safety Xavier Woods and Florida State corner Marquez White in the sixth round.
Now, the Cowboys defensive secondary is stocked full of young talent. But as we’ve seen, that doesn’t always translate to success on the field.
But one area where Dallas might improve is in creating turnovers. According to one Michigan insider, the Cowboys might have just found themselves a new ballhawk in Lewis.
"“[Jourdan Lewis is] football smart, an excellent tackler and something that Jim Harbaugh would bring up quite a bit – he’s going to show he’s got a knack for the ball,” Detroit News sports writer Angelique Chengelis told the Dallas Morning News. “I know that’s a football cliché but he does. He’s a terrific athlete and knows how to read offenses, read eyes very well and moves well. I think that’s going to differentiate him.”"
During his final two seasons at Michigan, Lewis recorded an incredible 29 pass deflections. His talents will be added to an anemic secondary who ranked 27th in interceptions (9) last season and second to last (8) in the NFL the season prior.
The Dallas Cowboys secondary has been starving for turnovers for a couple years now. This Cowboys group grabbed 18 interceptions in 2014. Perhaps the addition of Lewis and the rest of the new regime in Dallas’ secondary can resurrect those types of numbers this season.