(Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players' impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2012 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features cornerback Orlando Scandrick.)
Name: Orlando Scandrick
Experience: 5 seasons
College: Boise State
Key stat:Scandrick missed the final five games of the season after hand surgery following the Cowboys loss at home to the Redskins. His six pass deflections tied with Gerald Sensabaugh for third most on the team.
Contract Status:Signed through 2016.
How He Played In 2012: I have always been one of those guys that had defended the play of Orlando Scandrick because I understood how difficult the position of nickel corner is to play. There were some moments during the past season where you saw him play with the traits that we observed when they drafted him out of Boise in 2008. He did a much better job of defending routes, where in 2011 he wasn't as good. During that season he played like he lacked confidence and his technique was poor. He became defensive when questioned about what his responsibility was and was quick to snap back if he thought you were placing the blame in his direction. As mentioned, his 2012 was a better showing of the type of talent he does have. I have never had a question of the type of skill or talent he has, but when he plays cautiously, he is not as good of a player. There were times in 2011 where you saw this, but in 2012 he did a much better job of playing aggressively and that is where he is at his best. There were some plays where he was too aggressive with holding the receiver, but with what he has to do in his job, you're going to have that.
Scandrick does have a rare ability that I respect, and that is in the way he has an understanding of his opponent. Unlike some players on this team, he does study and prepare, which for the position he plays, is vitally important. In the slot you can't just play on feel, you have to know how these receivers are going to work you. Where he was at his best this season was the game in Philadelphia where he had four tackles, two pass breakups and two tackles for loss. These are the types of games that he is capable of having every week when he plays with confidence and technique, because the skill is there.
How Does He Fit: There is a side of me that believes that he will be a nice fit in this new scheme because of his ability to cover, but where he could do the most damage to offenses is in his ability to blitz off the slot. Over the years we have seen Monte Kiffin bring Ronde Barber out of that position with outstanding success. Barber became one of the most feared blitzers in the NFL with how Kiffin used him. Scandrick has a real feel for how to do this as well with his speed and quickness, so look for him to get plenty of opportunities in 2013 to pull this off.
Rowan Kavner – If not for Scandrick's injury, it's possible the Cowboys would have never found cornerback Sterling Moore, who became an integral contributor for the team late in the season and could have an impact in future years. Still, Scandrick was the best slot cornerback on the team and provided necessary depth at the position. The Cowboys were in a scramble after he went down trying to make a tackle against the Redskins. He had his struggles, particularly late in the game in a loss to the Falcons, and he capped the 2012 season without an interception for the first time since his rookie year, but he's the one player on the team most comfortable guarding the slot receiver. The Cowboys don't have to worry about where to put him on the field.