While free agency officially begins in March, roster turnover isn't too far away. The Cowboys will indeed add and presumably release players, along with letting some go without a new contract.
However, the majority of the 2018 roster is already in place. In the coming weeks, the staff of DallasCowboys.com will preview those players, analyzing where they've been and where they're going.
Today, we'll continue the series with cornerback Jourdan Lewis.
Views of #27 Corner Back Jourdan Lewis from the 2017-18 Regular Season.
What's Been Good:
The goal is for your highly-drafted rookies to jump right into the deep end of the pool, and Jourdan Lewis didn't disappoint in that regard. It's easy to forget at this point, but it can't be forgotten that Lewis suffered a hamstring injury during what was essentially his first training camp practice and missed the entirety of the preseason. Despite that, once he was healthy the Cowboys threw him right into the fray. He nabbed an interception in his first NFL game and never looked back. In all, Lewis played 15 games, starting seven – playing both outside and in the slot. He finished with 46 tackles, and his 11 passes defensed led the entire team. Not bad for a guy who didn't have a training camp.
What's Been Bad:
It'd be nitpicking to say it was "bad," but Lewis showed some of the usual growing pains you'd expect from a rookie corner. Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams famously picked on him in the Week 5 classic against Green Bay, completing two passes for 26 yards – including the game-winning touchdown. He also drew a 55-yard defensive pass interference penalty on Michael Crabtree in Oakland, setting the Raiders up with a good chance to win the game before Jeff Heath saved the day. Honestly, though, these are minor issues for a guy who proved himself capable of playing at multiple positions during his rookie season.
It was fun to see the Dallas coaching staff give the young guys a shot in the final month of the season. After an ugly loss to the Chargers, Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie were promoted into starting roles, and the results were encouraging. The best of those efforts might have been the 30-10 win against the New York Giants on Dec. 10. Lewis finished the day with six tackles, and the Dallas secondary held Eli Manning to just 228 passing yards on 46 attempts – an average of less than five yards per throw.
Suddenly, the Dallas secondary looks young and crowded. That's the result when you invest a lot of draft picks in talented young defensive backs. Lewis, Awuzie and Anthony Brown should all be in the mix for a starting cornerback job, and the Cowboys plan to give Byron Jones a look at the position, as well. Orlando Scandrick is also still in the fold. Lewis has the talent to play at any of the cornerback spots, and given the promise that he showed a rookie, the hope is that he can maintain that momentum and beat out the competition to remain as one of the Cowboys' three primary cornerbacks this year.
- Post draft, the scouts were really buzzing about both Chidobe Azzuie and Jourdan Lewis.
- I personally felt that Azzuie had a chance to be special and despite missing a large chunk of the season still showed a ton of promise.
- Like Azzuie, Lewis was dealing with his own issues health wise during training camp but recovered nicely to fill in during the Week 2 game against the Broncos with limited practice time recording his first NFL interception and never looked back.
- Lewis had his ups and downs during the season but nothing that led you to believe that he was a liability.
- His aggressive style was a welcomed addition to a secondary that was struggling to find some consistency from the starters.
- After the disaster on Thanksgiving Day, the group as a whole improved with rookies Lewis, Azzuie and Xavier Woods manning the secondary.
- What will be interesting for the upcoming season is if Byron Jones does make the move back to cornerback does that threaten Lewis' spot on that right side?
- It appears that Azzuie is a lock at left corner so will Jones / Lewis be 1A and 1B or does Jones just become a sub player and enter the game in those situations with Lewis still as the starter?
- My opinion is that Kris Richard is going to have a big say in which direction this goes for both Byron Jones and Jourdan Lewis.