Long cornerbacks give the Dallas Cowboys major bang for the buck

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys clearly have a type in mind when they pick up defensive backs – here’s why that’s providing great bang for the buck these days

Chasing trends can be a dangerous thing in the NFL. Since ‘supply’ largely remains the same year-to-year, increased demand inevitably inflates the cost. When the Dallas Cowboys switched from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense under coach Bill Parcells, it was following a growing 3-4 trend, making the cost more expensive than normal.

The cornerback position is no stranger to trends. Sometimes it’s ballhawks being targeted. Sometimes it’s strong man coverage being targeted. Sometimes it’s big guys to match up against big receivers. And sometimes it’s small guys capable of sticking with smaller shiftier receivers. But the Dallas Cowboys aren’t following any of those trends anymore.

The Dallas Cowboys have a type. Regardless of what happens around the NFL, Dallas is going to stick with their type. Even when the draft and free agency offer attractive and highly regarded options, Dallas stands fast.

What is that type?

Long defensive backs, of course.

Since Kris Richard came on board, the Dallas Cowboys have abandoned the best player available strategy and attacked the defensive backfield with a traits-focused battle plan. Last season they brought in Charvarius Ward (6’1” 32 ¼” arms) and Donovan Olumba (6’2” 32 7/8” arms). Then this offseason they brought in Michael Jackson (6’1” 32 ½” arms) and Chris Westry 6’4” 33 ¾” arms).

Says Jason Garrett:

"“We have a profile for every position physically on our team. We’ve always had that. There’s heights and weights  and arm lengths and hand size that we have for every spot on our team.”"

The past two offseasons many attractive players have been available either in free agency or the draft. But no matter how good the film has been, Dallas has opted for the traits over all else.

The logic behind this is that long arms limit windows. Boundary corners specifically need length in Kris Richard’s system. They pin the receiver between themselves and sideline so only a perfect pass with perfect touch can beat them.  It’s a lot like how the Dallas Stars use the 6’7” Ben Bishop in the net. His enormous size doesn’t leave many windows for the opposition to score.

Even safeties need length in this system. Not only do the Dallas Cowboys cycle their safeties into various man coverages, but they often use them exactly as they would a cornerback. Football being a game of inches, Dallas sees to it they have every extra inch they can get.

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Looking at who the Dallas Cowboys have drafted and when they have been selected, it’s clear the team values certain traits more than overall ability. That’s not to say ability isn’t important to them, it’s just pointing out they target a specific build to play defensive back and chances are if you don’t fit the profile, Dallas probably won’t sign or draft you.

The value portion of this is that Dallas often ignores higher ranked and generally more skilled defensive backs and leans towards less in demand options that fit their physical profile. This is much different from the rest of the NFL and allows Dallas to save premium draft picks and salary cap space to other positions.

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Since Kris Richard joined the Dallas Cowboys, they’ve invested very little into the position. That’s because they value traits while the rest of the league is chasing overall talent.

  • Published on 06/26/2019 at 12:30 PM
  • Last updated at 06/26/2019 at 09:51 AM