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How The Cowboys Pressed Forward On Defense 


The Cowboys' new-look defensive secondary is taking shape. Not just its depth chart, but its overall direction.

The Cowboys have added three cornerbacks in the past week. All stand over six feet. All weigh at least 200 pounds.

All fit a particular style of play.

"In a league that's throwing the ball 65 percent (of the time) now or whatever, and receivers are getting bigger and faster and stronger, we felt like with the new scheme or the new things that we're going to be doing or what we were looking for, we needed some guys to be press corners, No. 1. The other thing was guys that could affect the ball," Cowboys vice president of pro personnel Will McClay said Tuesday after the club drafted Trevon Diggs (6-1, 205) in the second round and Reggie Robinson II (6-1, 205) in the fourth round.

"When you have athletes that are six feet or taller, that have the length, speed and athleticism to matchup with receivers on the outside, we felt that there were guys that fit that. This was a good draft at the top four rounds for those big long corners."

The Cowboys continued that trend Thursday by signing four-year veteran Daryl Worley – a 6-1, 215-pound corner who also played some safety for the Raiders late last season. Similar measurables to Diggs and Robinson. Same philosophy: tall, rangy, built to disrupt receivers after the snap.

Corner became a major roster need after Byron Jones signed a reported $82.5 million deal with the Dolphins in March. Since then, the Cowboys have added competition to a group that includes returning veterans Anthony Brown, Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, C.J. Goodwin and newcomer Maurice Canady, who also stands 6-1.

This approach under new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and defensive backs coach Al Harris actually fits former passing game coordinator Kris Richard's preferences the past two seasons. Richard converted Jones from safety in 2018, and he became a Pro Bowl player as a physical press corner with outstanding catch-up speed.

Now Jones is a Dolphin, and the Cowboys will look to develop Diggs and Robinson into productive players. They thought both were excellent value where they were drafted.

"When you look at it, there are typically runs that go on that position. We were fortunate that the runs just came a little differently this year than they normally do in a normal draft," McClay said. "With Diggs, his ability to go get the ball, No. 1, is an extremely difficult feel to get interceptions when you're playing press coverage like he did in college with your back to the ball. It's a unique skill set that you have to have, and you have to see that repeatedly to feel like that's something that's normal that a guy can do just out of habit as opposed to a surprise thing.

"Both Diggs and Robinson did that at a high level in college."