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Recent History Says Don’t Overlook Marquez White As Third CB Selected
FRISCO, Texas – When rookie cornerback Marquez White showed up to the first day of rookie minicamp, he says the coaches told him and the other rookies not to think about where they were drafted, that they would be coaching everyone like they are first-rounders.
As a sixth-round pick out of Florida State, and the third cornerback the Cowboys selected in the 2017 draft, the sentiment means one thing for White: He’s going to be given every chance to contribute.
The Cowboys’ draft history suggests that this isn’t just empty rhetoric, either. It’s easy to get caught up in the draft hoopla of ‘who gets drafted where,’ but once players hit the field it’s important to remember that the Cowboys don’t look at draft order like it’s a depth chart.
“We just have to come in and be ready to play,” White said, speaking for himself and his fellow rookie cornerbacks. “Whenever your name’s called you just have to be ready to produce. That’s the biggest thing at this level.”
The last time the Cowboys drafted a Florida State cornerback in the sixth round it was Mario Edwards back in 2000. Like White, he was the third rookie cornerback the Cowboys selected that year, but he ended up being the most productive, becoming a three-year starter in Dallas.
Just last year the Cowboys took Anthony Brown out of Purdue in the sixth round. Brown might have been the most unheralded Cowboy rookie coming out of the draft, but started multiple games in his first year and showed terrific potential as a future starter.
So it’s not really about whether White is better than Chidobe Awuzie or Jourdan Lewis, both of whom were drafted ahead of White. The question is whether or not he’s ready to play at an NFL level. If he is, regardless of anything else, he’s likely to find his way on the field.
White was a two-year starter for a Florida State program that was one of the best teams in the nation while was there. He was a team captain his senior year and claims that practicing against the Seminoles’ pro-style offense helped ready him for NFL play.
“The expectations that we had for the program as a whole, [it’s] kind of the same here,” White said before correcting himself. “Probably higher here, of course, but I think I’m prepared for it.”
White’s natural athleticism was so impressive that he also played on the basketball team as a guard for the Seminoles during the 2013-2014 season before deciding that maintaining the schedule for both sports was unreasonable. Still, it was no small feat considering Florida State plays in the Atlantic Coast Conference, widely considered the best basketball conference in the nation.
“I knew I was a pretty decent basketball player that could make it at the college level,” White said. “I had to make a business decision and I feel like it worked out best for me.”
On the second day of rookie minicamp White said that he’d like his chances in a one-on-one game of basketball with most of the Cowboys, and even joked (or half-joked, perhaps) that Dez Bryant “would find out” how good he is if Bryant wanted to try to play against him. Then he was reminded of 6-8 tight end Rico Gathers, who played four years of college basketball at Baylor.
“I watched him play there,” White said of Gathers. “He was a great player. He would beat me for sure.”
Injuries and unforeseen factors are inevitable in the NFL, and success often hinders teams’ ability to find players ready to step in and fill the void. You don’t have to look further than Orlando Scandrick, a fifth-round pick back in 2008, to find another late-round selection who ran with the opportunity given to him by the Cowboys. Scandrick is now the longest-tenured player on the Dallas defense.
If the Cowboys do indeed coach White like he’s a first-rounder, it will be because they think he has the potential to perform like one. Read