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Draft Series Part 8 of 9: Cornerbacks

One of the most pleasant surprises the Cowboys have had has been their play of their cornerbacks.  We all know that the Cowboys have had a good one the last seven seasons in Terrance Newman, but the surprise play of the two sophomore corners was a real boost to the teams defence.  The Cowboys have a pretty solid set of corners, but with the exception of Mike Jenkins, the Cowboys really struggled to get interceptions out of them.  That is one thing that needs to change for this defence to reach the next level.  Heading into the draft the Cowboys are thin at corner and will be interesting to see where they go.

Terrance Newman (starter) – T-New has been a rock on the left-side for the past seven seasons.  He has had his share of injuries that have slowed him down, but when he is healthy there are few that are better.  His turnover numbers do not truly reflect his ability to blanket receivers.  What makes Newman so good is his speed.  Newman is one of the fastest players in the league and can make up any separation receivers can get.  Newman has great intelligence on the field and uses his hands well.  He is getting older, and after seven seasons we will see if he can continue to play at his top level.

Mike Jenkins (starter) – Through the first 3 games last season the Cowboys held open tryouts to see who would start opposite of Newman.  Both Jenkins and Scandrick showed lots of potential and weakness in the season and coaching staff was undecided.  Jenkins picked off Panther’s QB Jake Delhomme in week 3 and the job was his from then on.  Jenkins has great hands and amazing ball-hawking skills, something the Cowboys desperately needed.  He is deceptively quick and very smooth in coverage.  He attacks the football and is not afraid to get physical.  He can get flagged for interference a lot and tends to bite on double moves.  Unlike Newman, he lacks the overall speed to close gaps when he gets beat.  Jenkins will be back as the other corner.

Orlando Scandrick – Scandrick is the nickel corner, but instead of taking the slot, he takes Newman’s spot and Newman shifts to the slot.  Scandrick has all the tools.  He has great speed, good hands, and good agility.  He struggles to pick the ball up in the air.  He is only going to get better as he gets more experience.  He has proven that he can be a good slot cover corner as well.  Near the end of the season he would play in the slot and Newman would stay outside.  Whether that continues we will have to see.

Other Notables:

1) Cletis Gordon – Gordon came over halfway through the season and didn’t really play much.  He was brought in for depth and will likely get pushed by whomever the Cowboys bring in this year.

2) Alan Ball – Ball is a corner who is moving to safety this year.  He can fill in at corner if need be, but the Cowboys would like to try him at safety.

Draft Prospects:

1) Joe Haden (Florida) 5’11, 190 lbs. – Haden has shown he can do just about anything asked of a cornerback. Although his career interception total is low (4), he has the ball skills required of a No. 1 cornerback. He plays much faster than he times and is a physical presence.

2) Kyle Wilson (Boise State) 5’10, 190 lbs. – Boise State has put out some good corners over the last 2 years and Wilson continues that trend. Wilson’s ball skills are top notch (10 career INTs – 27 pass breakups) and his ability to read a quarterback and time his breaks are NFL ready. He can play man coverage in any NFL scheme right away because of the quickness and his physical nature. His intangibles are top notch and the option he brings to the table as a solid return specialist will only increase his value.

3) Devin McCourty  (Rutgers)  5’11, 190 lbs. – McCourty is a seasoned cornerback who has started 39 games over the past three seasons. He played in a defensive scheme that used man and cover-2 coverage. McCourty plays every play on special teams – returning kicks and covering.

Other Notables:

1) Brandon Ghee (Wake Forest) 6’0, 190 lbs.
2) Patrick Robinson (Florida State) 5’11, 194 lbs.
3) Kareem Jackson (Alabama) 5’11, 192 lbs.

Up Next: Safties

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