The roster turnover is already underway. Free agency has now begun and the 2017 NFL Draft isn't far away. Over the next few weeks, the Cowboys will lose and replace a sizable portion of their roster.
For every new face, however, there are dozens of familiar ones who will return to begin a new campaign. From established veterans to second-year players, the vast majority of the Cowboys' 2017 team is already on the roster. In the coming weeks, the staff of DallasCowboys.com will preview those players, analyzing where they've been and where they're going.
Today we'll continue the series with cornerback Anthony Brown.
What's Been Good:In the sixth round, teams aren't really looking for guys that could be starters. More than anything, teams want to find players that have traits that can help them develop into contributors that might one day lead to a guy that can start. With Brown, the Cowboys loved his speed that was clocked as a high as 4.29. But there's no way they knew Brown would become a reliable corner on defense that not only used his speed, but was a tough tackler not afraid to mix it up in the run game. Brown not only served as the Cowboys' third corner for most of the season, but he ranked fourth among defensive players in total snaps. His 858 plays (including special teams) was behind only Byron Jones, Brandon Carr and Sean Lee. For a sixth-round pick to make the team is impressive enough but to contribute that much makes him one of the best picks this team has made in recent years.
What's Been Bad:While he far exceeded expectations for a sixth-round, Brown wasn't without a few "rookie" moments. His penalty in the NFC Divisional loss to the Packers was questionable, but still a setback for the defense, wiping out an interception in a tie game. Brown gave up a few touchdowns throughout the year but the same could be said for veteran cornerbacks who have much more experience in the league and the scheme. Brown did play quite a few snaps so you'd like to his interception total increase from the one pick he got. Then again, it equaled Carr, Scandrick and Claiborne, who each had one interception in 2016.[embeddedad0]
2016 Highlight:After five games of turning a few heads and making some plays here and there, Brown had a breakthrough game in Green Bay, where he recorded a season-high 10 tackles, including one for loss and forced a fumble. Just as important as the plays he made were the ones that were prevented. Facing Aaron Rodgers and his crew, Brown helped limit the Packers' passing game that day at Lambeau.
What's Next:There's no doubt Brown will figure into the Cowboys' plans at cornerback for 2017. As of right now, he's played the second-most snaps at corner for the Cowboys behind only Orlando Scandrick. Veteran Nolan Carroll enters the picture and should contend for a starting job. And it's safe to assume the club will draft a cornerback or two for depth purposes. But if Brown continues to improve as most players do from the first to second season, there's no reason to think he won't be one of the starters next year, and perhaps one of the team's most reliable corners.