Dallas Cowboys 2018 position battles: Slot cornerback

Anthony Brown, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Anthony Brown, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys have played cornerback Anthony Brown in the starting slot role so far this offseason. Will that mistake continue into training camp?

The Dallas Cowboys are primed to enter the 2018 season with one of the most talented and athletic cornerback groups they’ve had in a while. With the Cowboys’ Achilles heel being the pass defense in recent years, it’s nice to finally see a cornerback rotation filled with good competition all the way down to the sixth spot.

With defensive passing game coordinator Kris Richard‘s hiring, the team has the coaching to match. But what seemed like a clear-cut depth chart at slot cornerback has been challenged by Richard.

While most fans expected cornerback Jourdan Lewis to be a starting cornerback at the opening of camp, it seems as though third-year vet Anthony Brown will get that distinction.

While it has been explained as an OTA experiment or minicamp competition, I feel as though it is an accurate reflection of how Richard feels. If so, and Jourdan Lewis is not given a fair opportunity to win the job, I believe Richard will be making a terrible mistake.

We all have heard about Kris Richards‘ emphasis on corners with size and length that can be disruptors at the line of scrimmage. Brown is 5-foot-11 with 31 3/4 inch arms, while Lewis is 5-foot-10 with 31 5/8 inch arms.

The difference in arm length is minuscule and the height difference is only an inch, surely that is not enough to trump talent and performance. While Richard has mentioned Lewis was the ‘exception to the rule’ for size, his employment in minicamp and OTA’s said otherwise.

Brown has shown his best when he plays out of the slot on a consistent basis. He does seem to jump out more as a reserve as well though. In 2017, he was benched for Chidobe Awuzie before the Week 13 game against the Washington Redskins. His play had declined all season and his penalty troubles had been hurting the team.

But, his play quickly rebounded when relegated to a reserve role.

Brown popped out the way he did in 2016 and even came away with an interception in those games after. His play as the fourth corner was much more reliable and effective because his time on the field was limited. Lewis, on the other hand, grabbed the starting reigns and never looked back once he returned from injury in Week Two.

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It could be argued that Lewis was the Cowboys best cornerback last season. It seems pretty clear that Lewis is the superior cornerback talent-wise, and Brown’s inch advantage does not close the gap. We must hope that the team isn’t pigeonholing their physical requirements for the position and are either just tinkering or giving the two a fair competition.

If not, the Dallas Cowboys might be constraining the full potential of the cornerback group. And that would be a huge mistake.