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Position Series: A Few Ups & Downs, But Overall Solid At CB
(Editor's Note: This is the 10th of a 12-part series analyzing every position on the Cowboys' roster, providing a quick look back before addressing the needs of each spot on the field and how it can be improved heading into the 2013 season. Today we examine the cornerbacks.)
Pressing Matters: This category has probably never been more appropriately named. With the move to a Tampa 2 scheme in the 4-3 defense, there is a question about how much the cornerbacks will be pressing. Traditionally, the cornerbacks have played a few yards off the ball, keeping their eyes on the quarterback at all times, but not far enough where they can’t come up and make a play. Still, paying $50 million for Brandon Carr and trading up to get Morris Claiborne in the first round usually suggests the Cowboys will let these guys be aggressive and press at the line of scrimmage. We’ll probably see a mixture of both defenses next year. Another issue the Cowboys need to figure out, although it’s probably long been figured out, is what happens with Mike Jenkins. He’s an unrestricted free agent who has likely played his last snap with the team.
2012 Evaluation: The signing of Carr proved to be well worth the money. Not only was he as advertised on the field, but he also has shown to be a valuable asset in the locker room and community. He led the team in interceptions and all three were game-changers, including a key pick in overtime against the Steelers. The rookie Claiborne had a pretty good year but has some obvious room for improvement. Some might be disappointed he didn’t make more impactful plays as the No. 6 overall pick, but he was solid and will certainly get better. Orlando Scandrick was missed at the end of the season with his fractured wrist injury. Jenkins wasn’t a huge factor after missing the offseason with a shoulder injury. The Cowboys had to bring in a few corners during the season, including Sterling Moore, who might have a more prominent role next year.
Need More From … : This isn’t a major knock on his game, but Claiborne falls into this category simply for being a first-round pick, as well as virtually the second-round pick since that’s what the Cowboys gave up to get him. He was good. The Cowboys need him to be great. Over time, he probably will be. Claiborne had a key interception in the end zone against Carolina, and recovered a fumble for a touchdown against the Eagles. He was seventh on the team in tackles with 64 and second in pass breakups with eight. From a first-year player, Claiborne was solid to good, but in terms of needing more, he still falls into this spot.
Morris Claiborne – Not bad for his first year. Had some troubling moments, especially in Philadelphia, but fought through the rookie growing pains and should be fine.
Brandon Carr – Showed his value and versatility early in the year by playing safety and matching up with bigger receivers. Turned into one of the team’s leaders right away.
Orlando Scandrick – Much more valuable than people give him credit for because of the demanding slot position he plays. Missed the final five games with a broken wrist.
Mike Jenkins – His days in Dallas are likely over. He wasn’t happy most of the season but didn’t really say it. He’s a free agent who will probably get the chance to start elsewhere.
Sterling Moore – A nice find by the Cowboys, who poached him off the Patriots’ practice squad. He immediately played at CB and special teams. He’ll have a role next year.
Michael Coe – Another midseason signing who actually faced the Cowboys twice earlier in the year with the Giants. Played some out of need, but not expected to be in the plans.
Vince Agnew – Spent some time on the practice squad, but did get some playing time. The Cowboys like him enough to keep him in the mix.
Brandon Underwood – Signed after the season to the futures list. Has three years of NFL experience but will start out on the bottom of the depth chart.