Consider for a moment what Trevon Diggs was up against as a rookie. His dream of playing in the NFL came true when he got the call as the second-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 2020, but there wasn't much time to bask in that moment. He was entering the fold on the heels of the club refusing to ante up the funds to re-sign shutdown corner Byron Jones, and in an offseason that also didn't exist -- due to the raging COVID-19 pandemic. Acclimating to the professional ranks is difficult enough for a rookie, but doing so virtually makes it exponentially more difficult, and with a defensive coordinator that should've never been one in North Texas.
Despite it all, Diggs went on to have a breakout campaign in Year 1, but the Cowboys knew he needed a dynamic complement and Dan Quinn didn't view the current stable of outside cornerbacks -- keeping in mind Jourdan Lewis is a nickel corner -- to be worthy of that nod. As such, they looked to the 2021 NFL Draft, eyeing Patrick Surtain II or Jaycee Horn as their top targets to fill the need opposite Diggs, but they went off of the board at No. 8 and No. 9, respectively, leading to the Cowboys trading back from No. 10 to No. 12 and selecting top linebacker prospect Micah Parsons.
Prior to the Denver Broncos spoiling the Cowboys plans on Surtain, Diggs was all but certain he'd reunite with his former Alabama teammate in Dallas. That said, he's more than pleased with seeing Kelvin Joseph get the honor in the second round, and feels things fell as they did for a greater purpose.
"I did watch the draft and I did think that, but you never know what happens," Diggs said from the second day of OTAs. "You never know what happens with the draft. I'm grateful for what we got. Kelvin [Joseph] has looked good in practice.
"He's explosive, fast -- everything. I'm happy. At the same time, I thought we were going to get my guy, but we didn't. But everything worked out as it should, and everything happened for a reason.
"I feel like this happened for a good reason."
The CBS Sports scouting report on Joseph shows him to be an impressive talent who hawks the ball much like Diggs does, and the two should make for a strong CB duo going forward, and he's already begun helping the rookie get his NFL bearings on the heels of rookie minicamp -- hoping to help Joseph have a similar year to the one that helped land Diggs an exceptional grade as a rookie.
"Just keep your head down and work," he told Joseph. "Just work hard and keep your head down and work and everything will take care of itself."
As for his own progress, Diggs isn't resting on the laurels of a first year that saw him overcome the aforementioned adversities and lead the team in interceptions (3) and pass break ups (14) -- the latter being nine more than second place. He was also sixth-best in combined tackles (58) and did it all in 11 starts as opposed to 16, having been sidelined several games with a foot injury that's no longer a concern.
"I feel I will be an improved player from last season, and this year will be a good year," said Diggs. "Just got to be focused. I got one year under my belt to see how everything is and transition into the NFL. I'm excited to see what year two has to come."
But what specifically does he plan on working on?
"Everything, in my opinion," he added. "I feel like I always need to get better every day at something. So, I always set my ceiling high, looking at something to get better at every day. So, it's not one thing that I can quite pinpoint, but it's something that I need to work on everyday. It's how I go about my work everyday when I come into practice, come into the building."
That's the type of answer that helps turn really good players into great ones.