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Mailbag: Knight & Steele's Development?


Brandon Knight and Terence Steele really got thrown into the deep end of the pool last season and Pro Football Focus graded them out as 48.5 and 50.3, respectively. However, with a season of film and experience under their belt, how do you believe these two will develop in 2021? Have they shown enough improvement and grit to compete for backup positions or even starting positions if Smith and/or Collins have suboptimal outcomes from their surgeries? — ERIC WILSON / COLORADO SPRINGS, CO

David:All things considered, I was impressed by the job Knight and Steele did in an otherwise awful situation. I'm very encouraged at the thought that they can go to training camp and provide some solid depth while fighting for roster spots. All of that said, I don't think they were so good that the front office doesn't need to address the position. In an ideal world, they can add a Top 100 draft pick to the mix, as well. That'd be a heck of a fun position battle at camp.

Rob:I thought both had some tough moments in pass protection, obviously, but both battled. Remember, it wasn't just Smith and Collins getting hurt — it was Cam Erving, the primary backup tackle, missing 10 games due to injury. He's set to be a free agent this spring. I would expect the Cowboys to add some competition behind the starters, but Zack Martin just makes the most sense to slide into one of those spots if needed again. Sure, that would be changing two spots in the lineup, but of the young guys stepping in, I thought Connor McGovern probably did the best job filling in at guard.

While speculation and debate will rage for another 10 weeks or so as to whether Dallas should draft an OT or DB , or whether to trade back, what of Reggie Robinson? He seemed to come in with some Byron Jones- like athleticism, and Dan Quinn seems to prefer longer CBs, what are his chances of being a top four CB this year or possibly a FS (does Quinn even like taller safeties)? — A. KAPLAN / NEW YORK, NY

David: I wish I could tell you more about Reggie Robinson, but we just didn't see much of the guy. He struggled a bit at training camp, which is understandable, and then he didn't play during the season. It'll be interesting to see where Dan Quinn thinks he should play. With the amount of turnover that's about to happen in the secondary, it would be absolutely huge to get some solid production out of him, regardless of where he lines up.

Rob: That's a good question and it's probably too early to know the answer, unfortunately. Quinn is in the process of evaluating the defensive roster, and remember, Joe Whitt Jr. will also have a voice in that as the new defensive passing game coordinator. I heard a lot of good things about Robinson's coverage skills coming out of the draft, but then he got moved to safety. The first step for him is finding a consistent spot on special teams. On defense, given the question marks they have in the secondary, his role might end up being as a utility player for now, being available wherever needed.

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