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Mailbag: Major Contributions From Rookies? Chidobe Awuzie At Safety?

HEATH HADLEYEVANSVILLE, IN

How do you feel about the potential of essentially five rookies with considerable playing time this year on defense considering Jaylon Smith's and Charles Tapper's situation?

Bryan: You really don't have much choice in the matter. In this NFL players come and go so you have to be ready to replace them with the most qualified players. The draft was set up to add those players at positions they needed. I feel better about the Tapper situation than I do Smith but that has never changed for me. I believe adding Nolan Carroll and Damontre Moore will help with the overall play of the defense. Both played well for their clubs in 2016.

Rob: I don't think you can just assume Smith and Tapper will get considerable playing time. Taking a page from Jason Garrett, the Cowboys just have to take their injury situations day by day, particularly Smith's with the nerve. If you do get contributions, that's like a bonus. But yeah, I think you can look at the top three draft picks – Taco Charlton, Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis – getting snaps at their respective positions and the next two picks, Ryan Switzer and Xavier Woods, potentially having major roles on special teams at the very least.

CULLEN CALABRIAPARIS, TX

I think we have a ton of depth at corner now with Nolan Carroll, Orlando Scandrick, Anthony Brown, Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie. After watching their highlights and doing research, Awuzie has position flex (outside, slot and safety) and could you see us moving him to starting strong safety? Because his strengths seem to be that of a very aggressive tackler and a guy that likes to play downhill and blitz the passer. I think he has more talent than Jeff Heath or Xavier Woods (sixth-rounder).

Bryan: If they drafted Chidobe Awuzie to play safety then they shouldn't have traded next year's fifth-round pick for Xavier Woods. I agree about his talent as a tackler and blitzer but they need him to be a better corner. If he struggles at cornerback then the move to safety is a possibility but that would be disappointing.

Rob:Moving Awuzie to safety could solve what looks like a potential logjam at corner. Ironic how this is now a good problem for the Cowboys after losing Brandon Carr and Mo Claiborne in free agency. The thing about this whole discussion, though, is that there's nothing wrong with having five quality corners, particularly in this division. With as much nickel and dime as the defense plays, all of them could get snaps.

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