As it turns out, DaRon Bland is going to be just fine playing on the outside following the season-ending injury to Trevon Diggs. Who saw that coming? Probably most folks who watched the Dallas Cowboys' 2022 season, actually.
Bland initially struggled against the Cardinals in Week 3 -- his first start on the boundary since Diggs' devastating injury -- but he rebounded in the second half. He was flagged for a pass interference penalty, but allowed just two catches for 26 yards when all was said and done.
A complete performance from Bland against the Patriots would have moved mountains as far as earning the trust of Cowboys fans.
The 2022 fifth-round pick did that and then some. He notched a pick-six of Mac Jones just before halftime to give Dallas a 28-3 lead. It's his second defensive touchdown of the season. He added another interception in the third quarter.
Bland was showered with praise on social media, and it was Diggs who led that charge with a bold claim after Bland played the game of his life.
Trevon Diggs praised DaRon Bland on Twitter after the Cowboys beat the Patriots in Week 4.
This is quite the statement from Diggs and it's sure to draw a fiery reaction from other fan bases, namely the New York Jets, who took Sauce Gardner with the No. 4 overall pick in 2022.
Gardner took home Defensive Rookie of the Year honors and was named a first-team All-Pro. Simply put, he was arguably the best CB in the league. His 90.2 PFF coverage grade was the highest-mark for an outside corner in the last 17 years. He only notched two interceptions, but his 20 passes defended led the NFL.
Gardner might have the accolades and reputation around the league, but he also had the luxury of stepping into a full-time role from Week 1. Bland, on the other hand, wasn't a regular starter until Week 12 of last season after the Cowboys were down starters Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis.
And yet, Bland's five interceptions in 2022 tied for the second-most of any cornerback. Though six players had five picks and four had six, the fact Bland was even in that mix suggests Diggs' tweet wasn't entirely off the mark.
After his two-interception performance on Sunday, Bland now has the most interceptions of any corner/safety since the start of 2022 with eight picks.
Furthermore, Bland is the third player in Cowboys history to have two pick-sixes in the same season (it's not even Week 5), and he's the first player since Trevon Diggs to have at least eight INTs through their first 21 career games.
Again, Gardner might have something to say about being the best DB from the 2022 draft, but Bland is nipping at the Jets star's heels after Sunday. Who knows? If Bland maintains a similar level of form over the final 13 games, this might become a national conversation by the end of the season.
If not, Diggs will see to it that folks put more respect on Bland's name.