Skip to main content

Offseason | 2023

Spagnola: This Unlikely Comeback Story Continues

02 June 2023:  Eric Scott (37)     
of the Dallas Cowboys during an OTA  practice at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.   Photo by James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys
02 June 2023: Eric Scott (37) of the Dallas Cowboys during an OTA practice at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas. Photo by James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

FRISCO, Texas - We know the backstory on Eric Scott Jr., going from tiny Basehor-Linwood High School in Basehor, Kansas, to a false start at Illinois State, to not knowing what was going to come next when leaving Normal, Illinois, to a restart at Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas, for a year and then his godsent landing at Southern Mississippi.

Not exactly your typical roadmap to the NFL and Dallas Cowboys. To the surprise of many and to his own great relief and gratitude, the Cowboys traded next year's fifth-round draft choice during this year's 2023 NFL Draft to move up to the first pick in the sixth round for the purpose of grabbing an overlooked and underrated cornerback slated by those so-called draft gurus to become no more than an undrafted free agent and ranked no higher than the upper 30s among the top-rated cornerbacks in the entire draft.

None of that matters now.

He's here at The Star, a member of the Dallas Cowboys 90-man roster, where we are reminded yearly this NFL is a meritocracy system, meaning it really doesn't matter where you came from or how you got here, now you will be judged by what you do here. The evaluation should be pure, not mattering if you're a surprise sixth-round pick like Scott or a third year second-round pick like Kelvin Joseph.

All that matters is, CAN YOU PLAY?

Doesn't even matter if you have one of those rags to riches brewing stories like Scott or one of those emotional tear-jerker paths such as Deuce Vaughn. You know how they say there is no crying in baseball? Well, in this football stuff there is no sympathy, your story likely never withstanding.

And as for Scott, as he said, and rather humbly, "Sit back and watch, the story is not done."

Oh no, not yet. The 6-2, 202-pound cornerback – overlooked in the draft principally because of pulling his quad while running his Pro Day 40-yard dash in 4.7, but with legit 4.4 speed – has encouraged the Cowboys by what they've seen so far during the rookie minicamp, the two weeks of OTA workouts and the now just completed three-day mandatory teamwide minicamp that their educated hunch to trade up to draft Scott, even if he turns 25 on Aug. 7, was spot on.

In fact, during the a few of the OTA practices we were able to watch, with Trevon Diggs not present and Nahshon Wright out after spraining his knee, Scott actually took some first-team reps with the defense at right cornerback – valuable reps not normally given to a raw rookie so soon.

"You know, Coach, he's been preparing me for stuff like that, so I feel like that was an opportunity and wanted to take advantage of it," Scott said.

But come on, didn't that surprise you being thrown out there so soon with the first-team defense?

"No, because I feel like I'm ready. It's my job right now. Like, if somebody goes down, I have to step up and fill those big shoes," Scott said. "That's the name of the game, next man up, so I'm always ready. I'm ready for ready."

To my naked eye, Scott did a nice job out there in coverage, though remember the Cowboys pulled way back with any physical play during these offseason workouts, asking the defensive backs to be in position against pass plays but not to aggressively challenge the ball in the air. Otherwise, the team and head coach learned the hard way fines are awaiting.

But at least Scott caught the attention of defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who later during the minicamp wanted to further test Scott.

"We intentionally took them out, took out Diggs and (Stephon) Gilmore, and sometimes I want to see how guys are going to respond," Quinn said. "Young players, are they going to get tight in there with the starting group or are they going to rise to it? Put him in, see what he can do."

Well, Scott must have done well, and maybe one of the reasons he jumped ahead of Joseph, who is entering his third season having played limited snaps at outside corner the past two seasons and now having been moved into the slot on the nickel defense behind last year's rookie, DaRon Bland.

"What we are generally looking for with a player coming in, when you're in line and you're kind of counting reps, 'OK, I think I can go here,' but when you see a guy wanting the moment to go and compete and knowing like, 'I'm balling my fist up. I ain't leaving here,' that's what I'm looking for. Especially for the rookies to have that kind of attitude to say, 'I'm here. I ain't going nowhere' kind of mindset," Quinn said.

"Attitude is really what it takes for young players to assert themselves into these moments because that responsibility is real, to say, 'Hey man, can we count on you when it's there?' and them learning to do that early on. That's a big deal to say, 'I'm down for this count. You can count on me to get it done,' and I've seen that from Eric so far.

"He's just one of those guys, 'I'm not leaving. I'm going to do my thing.'"

So, so far so good for Scott. For a rookie drafted no higher than the sixth round making early impressions is important to potentially securing a spot on the 53-man roster. Like, Scott must show some reason for the Cowboys to keep him as the fifth or sixth corner behind Diggs, Gilmore, Bland and Wright, and who knows when Jourdan Lewis factors back in, a likely PUP candidate to start training camp while still rehabbing from is Lisfranc injury. That's a stacked room.

At this point, from what he's seen, Quinn at least says Scott does have some special teams capabilities, certainly a necessity for backup players. And just that or at least making the practice squad would be a triumph for Scott when thinking back to his road less traveled to get to this point.

Related Content