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Progress Report: Spotlight Now Bright On CB Diggs

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(Editor's Note: NFL rosters change wildly from year to year. This year will be no different, as the Cowboys seek to upgrade their roster via free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft. Still, a large percentage of their roster is already in place, and they'll have plenty of work to do to improve last season's 6-10 record. In the coming weeks, the staff of DallasCowboys.com will evaluate those players who are already under contract, examining their past performance and future outlook. Today, we'll continue the series with cornerback Trevon Diggs.)

The Good: A lot happened in Trevon Diggs' rookie season, but I don't think it would be going out on a limb to come away with one big, broad conclusion: He looks capable of being a starting cornerback on the Cowboys for years to come. Initially due to injuries and eventually because of merit, Diggs started 11 games in 2020. He was the first rookie to ever lead the Cowboys in pass breakups (15) and interceptions (3). He showed the kind of tremendous ball skills that Cowboy fans have been yearning for in their secondary. Of all the Cowboys cornerbacks who played a significant number of snaps, Diggs had the highest defensive rating by Pro Football Focus.

The Bad: When taken as a whole season, there wasn't a lot of "bad" for Diggs. But when the Cowboys threw him into the fire as a Week 1 starter, he did indeed looked like a rookie. It was just unrealistic to ask a second-round pick (with a limited offseason due to COVID-19) to come in and successfully cover some of the NFL's best wide receivers. He was the most targeted player in the Cowboys' secondary, and early in the season he gave up a number of big plays. On the season, he gave up an average of 14.5 yards per completion. It would have been reasonable to worry that such a tough start would have done a number on a young player's psyche, but he did manage to improve as the season progressed. Most frustrating for Diggs was that he missed four games due to a broken bone in his left foot.

Best of 2020: Diggs' most notable game of the season wasn't exactly a shining moment for the Cowboys. Dallas ultimately lost their Week 8 matchup with the Eagles 23-9, but Diggs did manage to pick off Carson Wentz twice. The first one came in the second quarter on a deep pass intended for fellow rookie Jalen Raegor, and the second came on the opening drive of the second half when Diggs took the ball away in the end zone and returned it for 33 yards.

Contract Consideration: Diggs still has three years left on his rookie contract. His quick development as a starter is a huge boon for the Cowboys, who should be able to maximize numerous years of excellent play out of him while still on a team-friendly deal.

What's Next? What comes next for Diggs comes down to finding out what level he's able to reach in the next few years. His rookie season laid the kind of foundation that you might see from one of the league's elite cornerbacks, but he certainly isn't there yet. Quarterbacks weren't able to throw at him at a particularly effective rate, but the number of big plays that he did give up seemed to encourage them to try. But those big plays cut both ways, and Diggs managed to make a few of his own. His three interceptions were the product of the enticing ball skills that he clearly possesses. Cowboys fans had been begging for the players in the secondary to generate actual turnovers, and Diggs looks poised to be the answer to their prayers. Cornerback is one of the most difficult positions for a young player to excel at, but his further development is no guarantee. How he continues to match up against number one receivers will continue to be a back and forth proposition, but Diggs is pretty easily the most exciting young player on the Cowboys' defense.

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