(Editor's Note: As the NFL Draft approaches on May 8-10, DallasCowboys.com's Draft Series will analyze every position, including the Cowboys' needs at each and which players might be targeted with their 11 picks, while also providing some interesting draft nuggets. Part 10 features the cornerbacks.)
The Cowboys have spent a pretty penny on their cornerbacks in recent seasons, but to this point haven't found many answers.
It's been two years since Brandon Carr joined the team as a high-profile, $50 million free agency acquisition. There have been good moments, but he hasn't quite lived up to that billing – highlighted by what was a rocky second half to 2013.
It's also been two years since the Cowboys traded up to select Morris Claiborne sixth overall. Entering the third year of his contract, plenty of people want to place the "bust" label on him, as injuries have limited him to 25 appearances, 22 starts and just two interceptions in two seasons. [embedded_ad]
The lone bright spot at the position last year was Orlando Scandrick, who shined at nickelback and replaced Claiborne in the starting lineup on several occasions – earning himself a contract extension last season. But it remains to be seen if that change lasts into 2014, or if Scandrick is again the team's No. 3 corner.
The Cowboys also invested a fourth round draft pick in B.W. Webb last spring. The rookie managed to see the field in 15 games in 2013, and injuries even forced him into extensive duty on occasion. He finished with 16 tackles, though he was victimized by several opponents – notably, Chicago and New Orleans.
What They Need:
Based on what is currently on the roster, it doesn't seem likely the Cowboys "need" anyone; they just need the current corners to improve their level of play. Carr is playing out a big-money contract, Claiborne is a top-10 draft pick with two years remaining on his rookie deal, Scandrick was just extended and Webb is only a second-year player.
Typically, NFL teams keep four or five cornerbacks on the active roster. Sterling Moore re-appeared late last season, and will likely go back to training camp. The Cowboys could use another guy or two to push Moore and Webb for a roster spot.
As you might expect, anyone that's available in free agency at this point is going to come with a pretty big caveat. After perennial Pro Bowler Champ Bailey signed with the Saints last month, it left the trio of Terrell Thomas, Asante Samuel and Jabari Greer as the top available corners on the market.
Thomas is the youngest of the bunch at 29, and he rebounded from missing both the 2011 and 2012 seasons on injured reserve by totaling 67 tackles and an interception in seven starts for the Giants. Samuel, who recently turned 33, appeared in 11 games and started just 10 for Atlanta last year, as a thigh injury knocked him out of the starting lineup. Greer was a starter for the Saints for most of 2013, but he was lost to an ACL tear in November and was released in February.
It would be a pretty big surprise to see the Cowboys draft one of this year's highly-touted corners – be it Justin Gilbert, Darqueze Dennard, Kyle Fuller or Bradley Roby.
That doesn't mean a lower pick would be off the table – the Cowboys have 11 selections in this draft, after all. Lamarcus Joyner stands out as a possibility as either a safety or cornerback addition in the middle rounds. Names like Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Jaylen Watkins might also be worth knowing. Who knows? If local product Jason Verrett is available in the second round, perhaps the Cowboys could pull the trigger.
For a more in-depth look at all the draft prospects, check out the Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine 2014 Draft Guide, which profiles more than 80 potential picks with rankings for over 300 players available in the upcoming draft. Digital subscriptions, which include 32 issues throughout the year, are available for just $14.99.