Under-the-radar Cowboys CB named a top NFL slot defender

Nov 4, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Dallas Cowboys cornerback Jourdan Lewis (27) runs back a fumble for a touchdown against the New York Giants during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 4, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Dallas Cowboys cornerback Jourdan Lewis (27) runs back a fumble for a touchdown against the New York Giants during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /
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Being a slot defender in today’s NFL certainly isn’t easy. You have to deal with some of the best receivers in the game as well as large, powerful tight ends. According to Touchdown Wire, 43.2% of pass targets went to slot receivers last year, giving slot defenders a lot to deal with. In a league that is quarterback-driven, the Dallas Cowboys‘ secondary stepped up last year in terms of overall defense and takeaways.

While most analysts consistently talk about Micah Parsons, Trevon Diggs, or DeMarcus Lawrence when it comes to the Cowboys’ defense, another Dallas defender is getting some big-level recognition from NFL writer Doug Farrar. The Touchdown Wire writer put together a list of the top 12 slot defenders in the league, and CB Jourdan Lewis was high up on the list.

In fact, the 26-year-old beat out names like Jalen Ramsey, Kenny Moore II, and Kyle Dugger. Here was the final ranking by Farrar:

  1. Tyrann Mathieu, New Orleans Saints
  2. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, New Orleans Saints
  3. Jourdan Lewis, Dallas Cowboys
  4. Kyle Dugger, New England Patriots
  5. David Long Jr., Los Angeles Rams
  6. Kenny Moore II, Indianapolis Colts
  7. Derwin James, Los Angeles Chargers
  8. Taron Johnson, Buffalo Bills
  9. Jalen Ramsey, Los Angeles Rams
  10. Jordan Whitehead, New York Jets
  11. Justin Coleman, Seattle Seahawks
  12. Chris Harris Jr, (Free Agent)

Cowboys cornerback Jourdan Lewis was named the No. 3 slot defender in NFL over Jalen Ramsey, others

While many Cowboys fans’ eyes were on Diggs, Lewis was having a career-best year in 2021. After signing a three-year deal before last season, the former third-round pick started in 13 games and collected three interceptions, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, and 61 tackles.

For the soon-to-be sixth-year corner to be on a list with these names (and above some of the league’s best) is an impressive feat that should bring more eyes to his body of work in the 2022 season. Here’s what Farrar had to say about the corner:

"Last season as a slot defender, Lewis allowed 41 catches on 61 targets for 471 yards, 225 yards after the catch, one touchdown, three interceptions, and an opponent passer rating of 74.5.Lewis was at his most effective when he was targeted the most — he was targeted 10 times against the Buccaneers in Week 1, and 13 times against the Giants in Week 15. He had interceptions in each game, and gave up just 10 receptions in the two games.Lewis’ interception against the Bucs was on a last-second Hail Mary from Tom Brady at the end of the first half; more impressive was his work from the slot on this deflection of a Brady pass to Mike Evans in the fourth quarter. Evans ran a quick out from the inside of trips right, and Lewis (No. 26) moved from his hook/curl responsibility to bat the ball away."

For Lewis to be his best self when he’s targeted the most is an excellent sign.

Depth at cornerback is a huge plus for any NFL team. Although the team also has Kelvin Joseph and Nahshon Wright, the two didn’t spend much time on the field nor in the slot as rookies. The combination of Diggs, Anthony Brown, and Lewis should help the Cowboys defend some of the best offenses in the league in 2022. The team will certainly be counting on them against the Bucs, Bengals, Rams, and Packers.

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