Cowboys: What Lewis, Awuzie, and Woods bring to the secondary

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 01: Jourdan Lewis
ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 01: Jourdan Lewis /

The time has come for the Dallas Cowboys to turn to their promising rookie defensive backs to help save their season. Here’s what they bring…

The Dallas Cowboys are looking for answers as to why they are 2-2 at the quarter point of the season. In this high-expectation season, it seems virtually everything can be improved upon. And that includes improvemnt from the secondary.

As we discussed this morning, statistically the 2017 Cowboys pass defense is actually better than the 2016 version. That’s pretty impressive when you consider how beat up and inexperienced these guys are compared to veterans that occupied the secondary last year.

But even with the statistical improvement this season, the Cowboys could stand to make some improvements in their pass-defense. One of those moves involves inserting their promising young rookie defensive backs into the starting line-up.

Jourdan Lewis

After essentially missing all of training camp with a hamstring injury, Jourdan Lewis has quickly established himself as one of the most promising rookies on the team. He’s so promising, some are already placing him in the running for rookie of the year.

Injuries to Nolan Carroll, Orlando Scandrick, and Chidobe Awuzie pushed Lewis into service faster than the Cowboys would have preferred. But Lewis is making the most of the opportunity. According to Pro Football Focus, the undersized Lewis has yet to miss a tackle this year. In the passing game he’s allowing a minuscule 0.75 yards per coverage snap.

In all, Jourdan Lewis ranks as the 17th cornerback in the entire NFL. That’s pretty amazing considering Lewis missed training camp, making these first four games of the regular season his preseason.

Lewis has some of the best ball skills in the entire draft class so it’s no wonder he’s thriving at the NFL level. It’s just surprising he’s doing so well, so quickly. As the only man on the Cowboys who has true CB1 potential, the Cowboys must make it a point to give Jourdan Lewis as many snaps as possible.

Xavier Woods

Xavier Woods is fast becoming a fan favorite in Cowboys Nation. The rookie safety was a target by many Dallas draftniks, and when he fell to the Cowboys in the sixth round this spring, many of us rejoiced. I went so far as to call him the defensive steal of the draft (I may have gotten a bit too excited).

After a slow start in training camp, Woods has made quite the impression these first four weeks.  Serving in a part-time and situational role, Xavier Woods has fast become one of the top-ranked players in the Cowboys’ secondary.

Graded by Pro Football Focus as a cornerback (because most of his action has been locked in man coverage), Xavier Woods rates one of the best defensive backs in coverage this season. He doesn’t stop there because he’s also making a name for himself as a tackler.

Combine Woods’ stellar play with Jeff Heath’s dumpster fire, and you have all out riot in Cowboys Nation to get Xavier Woods into the starting lineup.

Chidobe Awuzie

Injuries have kept Chidobe Awuzie from playing much this season. With only 43 snaps under his belt, it’s hard to know exactly what we have with the rookie second rounder. But with a PFF score of 76.7, he would essentially rank No. 43 in the NFL, one spot ahead of All-Pro Patrick Peterson.

Awuzie doesn’t have the ceiling of Jourdan Lewis but he has as high of a floor as any rookie CB this year.

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He’s solid in every way and that includes blitzing. With Lewis proving he can play on the outside, Awuzie can play his natural position inside where he can take advantage of that blitzing ability.

The time for change is now.

The Cowboys need to start showing more of Woods, Lewis, and Awuzie and less of Carroll, Scandrick, and Heath.

We know what we have in the old guys but it appears the sky is the limit with these rookies.

I wouldn’t hesitate to make Woods and Byron Jones my starting safeties. Nor would have a problem starting Anthony Brown and Lewis on the outside with Scandrick and Awuzie on the inside.

Next: How Aaron Rodgers beats the Cowboys with the free play

With the way the Cowboys LB’s have been playing, they’d be wise to play as many DBs as possible these coming weeks.