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Pick by Pick: Caelen Carson helps resolve CB depth


FRISCO, Texas – There were several high-priority needs for the Dallas Cowboys when they went on the clock at the 2024 NFL Draft in Detroit, and they were right to treat the cornerback position as one of them — leading them to use their lone fifth-round pick on Wake Forest defensive back Caelen Carson.

It's who they described as this year's "blinking light", which is to say there was no way they were going to pass up on selecting him at 174th-overall, having graded him much higher on their draft board.

In the "Pick by Pick" series, we take a look at each incoming rookie and, today, we will discuss what Carson brings to the table.

  • Name: Caelen Carson
  • Position: Defensive back
  • School: Wake Forest
  • Selection: 5th round (174th-overall)

Scouting report: Click here

What He's Bringing: Carson is a player who isn't afraid to get his hands dirty, and that's the perfect demeanor when playing on a defense led by Mike Zimmer. His build makes him more of a prepackaged boundary corner who can press well, but he also has the ability to move around a bit if needed. He excels at disrupting passes at the point of attack and making life difficult on smaller receivers who attempt to "out-athlete" him, and while he will need work on turning his list of PBUs into INTs, that's something Al Harris will likely pull out of him fairly quickly.

Where He's Playing: As noted, look for Carson to take the majority of his reps on the outside behind Trevon Diggs and DaRon Bland, as Eric Scott looks to compete for reps behind Jourdan Lewis in the slot. The former Demon Deacon will meet competition like Nahshon Wright this summer for the right to get the nod as a boundary backup to begin his NFL career.

What They're Saying: And now for a look at what's being said inside of the building after the selection.

VP of Player Personnel Will McClay: "Carson was a guy that we identified early on with the ability to play inside and outside. Really raw in technique and a lot of the things he was doing was all on natural ability. There are some things that we even noticed at the Combine visit with him, asking him questions about this and that. You know that there is more upside there because of his answers and the things he was looking at, plus his work ethic and how he competes. He will tackle as a corner, which is also a positive, and we really think good things about him to be able to contribute on special teams and any role we put him in."

Executive Vice President and Director of Player Personnel Stephen Jones: "I think, obviously, our corner here, Caelen Carson, he was just a guy that was sitting there and just jumping out at you because of the grade we had on him versus the rest of the board. You just have to jump on a guy like that. That was the right thing for us to do at the time."

Fifth-round pick Caelen Carson: "[I'm a] gritty player. Somebody that's going to do whatever for the team. I can play special teams, play nickel or play outside. I have versatility. And I'm just a competitive dude. I'm competitive by nature. My personality might be quiet, but on the field it's going to show a whole different personality. That's who I am."