FRISCO, Texas – It's not DaRon Bland's fault if he got a bit overlooked during draft weekend.
When a team adds nine draft picks to its roster at once, these things can happen. Much of the outside attention focuses on the Top 100 draft picks, while some of the other stories – like that of Matt Waletzko or Damone Clark – can generate their own headlines.
Be that as it may, whatever the situation might be from the outside, rest assured the Cowboys didn't overlook Bland at all during this process.
"The Cowboys were my first visit," Bland said after he was drafted. "It's a surreal moment at this stage. I worked very hard for this. I've spent most of my life trying to get to this point."
Again, so much of the focus is trained on the big-name prospects at this time of the year. Like all NFL teams, the Cowboys were allowed to bring 30 potential draftees to their facility this spring. And while the headlines trended toward first-round talents like Treylon Burks and Zion Johnson, if you look closely at that visitor list, there is Bland – the 6'0, 197-pound Fresno State cornerback whose traits make him plenty intriguing.
"Big, long, athletic corner. It fits the prototype of what we are looking for when we build our defense," said Cowboys executive vice president of player personnel Will McClay. "You want big outside corners that have vertical control – can stop the vertical routes and run with those guys and then make plays on the football. Then you add the athleticism that he has."
Bland doesn't possess the mind-bending height or length of Nahshon Wright and Israel Mukuamu, the 2021 draft picks who tower over most of the members of this roster. Still, with 32-inch arms, a wingspan that measures roughly six-and-a-half feet and a 35.5-inch vertical leap, Bland clearly possesses many of the attributes that defensive coordinator Dan Quinn covets in a defensive back.
Perhaps most importantly for a guy drafted No. 167 overall is Bland track record on special teams, where he says he played plenty – at both Fresno State, and at FCS Sacramento State, where he started his career.
"Throughout my college career, I played punt, punt return, kickoff and kickoff return," he said. "I pretty much played it all."
That should be music to special teams coordinator John Fassel's ears. Wright, drafted into a similar situation last season, played roughly 68% of the Cowboys' special teams snaps in a reserve role.
With all three starters from last year back in the cornerback room – not to mention Wright and Kelvin Joseph – that figures to be the future facing Bland, as well.
"There's a lot of great guys in the cornerback room to learn from like Trevon Diggs, Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown," Bland said. "Those are some good guys to learn from."
There are worse ways to begin a pro career. And, as the Cowboys have said, the hope is that will allow them to develop Bland's traits, which speak for themselves.