If you thought the Dallas Cowboys were done making changes to their secondary, you'd be wrong. The team is rightfully enjoying a heralded 2020 NFL Draft class that includes having grabbed cornerbacks Trevon Diggs and Reggie Robinson III, the former having a first-round grade but still available with the 51st-overall pick and the latter receiving high praise from team exec Will McClay himself, but they weren't done injecting talent into the rotation. Three days after the draft wrapped, they signed Daryl Worley on a one-year deal, a source confirms to CBS Sports, adding more of a veteran presence.
When combining the move on Worley with head coach Mike McCarthy recently addressing questions about the safety position by noting there are players on the roster currently who have a chance at being moved to the defensive third level, all eyes should shift to Chidobe Awuzie, who joins Robinson as a candidate for the flex. The difference between Awuzie and the incoming rookie is Robinson could truly be disruptive at corner, while Awuzie is coming off of a down year in which he struggled to make an impact at the position. With a room now brimming with CB bodies, the Cowboys can afford to begin experimenting to help shore up the safety position.
There's an inherent irony here, of course, considering the decision to move Byron Jones from safety to full-time cornerback in 2018 led to an All-Pro season and ultimately him becoming the highest-paid corner in NFL history via the Miami Dolphins. Two years later, Awuzie might benefit from being moved in the opposite direction, although time will tell if he achieves the same level-up.
Nothing's written in stone just yet, because test drives must be done, but a separate source confirms to CBS Sports this is the team's thinking as the calendar turns over to May.
The shift to safety could just as easily be assigned to Worley though, before it's all said-and-done, considering the back end of his career with the Las Vegas Raiders included him taking some snaps at the position. At the moment, that seems less likely, but it's worth watching to see if they'll look to use Worley (or another) at safety in the event of injury.
The overall plan for the Cowboys secondary in 2020 is relatively straightforward, in that they want to do away with much of their usually-seen zone coverage packages and install many more press options that help disrupt timing and drive takeaways. To do that, they need uber-physical corners on the front lines, and their new additions show their subway barreling down the right track.followed by Robinson, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound athlete who also runs a 4.44s 40-yard dash, adds to the signing of Worley to make for a rather obvious blueprint.
"Really good athletes [that are] long," defensive backs coach Al Harris said of the latest additions, via 105.3FM the Fan. "The type of cornerbacks we're looking for? Big bodies that can run. ... I'm a fan of the bigger guys. If you look at the WR trends, they're not getting smaller.
"They're getting bigger and faster."
As a footnote, Robinson's speed would be more beneficial at corner if he can press, cover and attack the ball better than Awuzie -- who himself ran a 4.43s 40-yard dash before being selected in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Cowboys. Awuzie has had trouble consistently getting his head around to take the ball away, so it'd make sense the team would consider having him play face-forward in 2020. A scenario wherein the starting outside corners are Diggs and Robinson, with Awuzie rotating at safety with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Xavier Woods is not out of the question, but instead feels like a distinct possibility (barring injury).
It's all something to keep an eye on, especially as Awuzie heads into a contract year, joined by Woods and nickel corner Jourdan Lewis, in that regard. Lewis himself has been mostly overlooked as a starter by the previous coaching regime in Dallas, despite being the only ballhawk on the team up to now. His height was a point of contention for former passing game coordinator Kris Richard, and it wasn't until Anthony Brown -- who's been re-signed in 2020 -- went down (again) with injury that the Cowboys truly realized what they had in Lewis. With Harris, McClay, McCarthy and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan going full bore toward the longer archetype at corner, Lewis could find himself on the outs yet again.
That may not necessarily be the case in 2020, which would be nonsensical to (again) bench a physical corner who also takes the ball away at a high rate, but his height might re-enter the chat come 2021.
"We were looking for long, athletic corners that could come in and start right away," McClay told 105.3FM the Fan just after the draft but before the signing of Worley.
They've thus far executed their plan to perfection, but it's packaged with what should be a lot of movement in the secondary, be it by flexing a player(s) to safety and/or the eventual and inevitable contract talks next offseason. One thing's for certain in Dallas, and that's the fact not much is certain at all in the new-look secondary just yet, as McCarthy stares at the chess board considering his next move.