Eatman on CBs
Draft Series: Once Again, Cowboys Could Use CBs
Nick Eatman - Email
DallasCowboys.com Staff Writer
April 14, 2009 5:15 PM
2009 NFL Draft Series takes a look at the cornerbacks available in the upcoming draft.
Editor's Note: With the Dallas Cowboys heading into the April 25-26 NFL Draft with 11 picks, DallasCowboys.com's 12-part Draft Series will break down the Cowboys position by position, analyzing what they have at the particular position, what their needs are and just who might be available, along with including some interesting draft nuggets. Part six will feature cornerbacks.)
IRVING, Texas - When the Cowboys wrapped up their 2008 NFL Draft, they were becoming dangerously close to challenging an old coaching theory that a team can never have too many good cornerbacks.
The Cowboys had two veteran starters, added another and then picked up two cornerbacks in the draft, including one in the first round.
But one year later, things have changed at cornerback. The Cowboys cut Pacman Jones and traded Anthony Henry, leaving them with only three players with any experience, two of whom are entering just their second seasons.
Once again, the Cowboys will likely need to come out of this draft with at least one cornerback. It's a good thing they will enter the weekend with 11 selections. In the last nine drafts, the Cowboys have taken 14 corners and should continue that trend again this year.
What They Have: As it stands, the Cowboys have talent at the cornerback position. Terence Newman has been to a Pro Bowl and he has been the most consistent cover cornerback over the last few seasons. But despite his injury concerns, which have prevented him from playing in each of the last two season openers, Newman is now the only veteran at the position. After cutting Pacman, the Cowboys decided to trade Henry, who wasn't figured to be in the team's 2009 plans anyway.
So that leaves just Jenkins and Scandrick for the next spots. While there could be a training-camp battle for the second starting job, it seems Jenkins would be the ideal fit to start and Scandrick would assume the role he had last year of playing in the slot. Both players were solid as rookies, although Scandrick appeared to be the more polished player. However, that could be because of the expectations with Scandrick being a fifth-round pick and Jenkins going in the first.
Either way, the Cowboys have two good young corners to play alongside Newman. After that, the Cowboys have Alan Ball and Michael Hawkins, a local player from nearby Carrollton. He has bounced around from the NFL to the Arena League, but could make a push for a final cornerback spot.
What They Need: If they had to play one game, they would indeed be in good shape. You've got a Pro Bowl cornerback in Newman and two young corners in Jenkins and Scandrick. Even Ball has shown some promise in limited action.
But keeping cornerbacks healthy for a full season is another story.
That's why the Cowboys could use more depth at the position. It never hurts to add players with experience in playing the slot. Newman has done it well and Scandrick proved he could play it last year, too. But adding a guy who has done it in college not only provides a team more flexibility, but it also shows he can cover. The slot corners usually are the best in man coverage.
If the Cowboys keep anywhere close to their 11 draft picks, you would think the club would end up with at least two cornerbacks. Expect one of them to have some history at safety as well. Adding a player who can possibly play two positions just gives the team more options.
Who's Out There: Without a first-round pick, the Cowboys will have no shot at getting some of the top cornerbacks in this draft. Those names include Ohio State's Malcom Jenkins, UConn's Darius Butler, Illinois' Vontae Davis and Alphonso Smith of Wake Forest. All three are figured to go in the first round.
The Cowboys don't pick until 51st overall, more than halfway through the second round. It's unlikely the club would take a corner, but if there is one they like, don't rule it out.
One guy that might fall to them would be Vanderbilt's D.J. Moore, who had 13 career interceptions in college. He's good enough to play some offense as a possible slot receiver, but it's likely that Moore's main job will be to clamp down on opposing receivers.
Utah's Sean Smith is not lacking size. At 6-3, 210, he also runs in the 4.4 range. With his height and rangy ball skills, Smith could end up moving to safety at some point in his career. Also watch out for Cincinnati's Mike Mickens and USC's Cary Harris, as well as Maryland's Kevin Barnes.
Look Back: With the current setup of the NFL Draft, it's likely there will never be another success story like the one Larry Brown had. And no, it's not that there won't ever be a local guy drafted in the low rounds that eventually makes the team, becomes a starter and then becomes a Super Bowl MVP - though the odds of that happening again remain slim.
Just the simple fact that Brown was a 12th-round pick is rare enough, considering the NFL switched to a seven-round draft in 1994. In 1991, the Cowboys picked Brown in the 12th round (320th overall) out of TCU as nothing more than a camp long shot.
However, Brown ended up making the team and actually started 13 games as a rookie. He started five years, including in 1995 when he had six interceptions and two more in Super Bowl XXX against Pittsburgh, earning MVP honors. Brown used that game to earn a big contract with Oakland, where he played two years before returning to Dallas for a brief stint in 1998.