Dallas Cowboys: 3 defensive players on the verge of breaking out

Xavier Woods #25 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Xavier Woods #25 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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LOS ANGELES, CA – JANUARY 12: Chidobe Awuzie #24 of the Dallas Cowboys drops a possible interception against Josh Reynolds #83 of the Los Angeles Rams in the second quarter in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on January 12, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Chidobe Awuzie

Aged 24

Before Kris Richard came aboard, the Dallas Cowboys cluster bombed the cornerback position adding Anthony Brown (2016), and a year later Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie. Chido, having played both cornerback and safety in college, was a chess piece – able to man deep safety, outside zone cornerback, as well as inside corner.

Injuries limited his rookie contributions and Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown both surpassed him on the depth chart. But things drastically changed in 2017. Byron Jones moved to cornerback. Brown was given nickel responsibilities. Lewis was moved to the bench. And Chido was given the spot opposite Jones in the starting lineup.

In contrast to my previous analysis of Chidobe Awuzie where I explained why Chido is a poor fit as an outside CB in Dallas’ scheme, I think Chido has the opportunity to breakout in a big way here in 2019. I still think Chido’s ball skills lie in his ability to play zone and he gets exposed when he has to play with his back to the QB, but I think Dallas coaches see it as well and plan to account for it.

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More zone coverage, some flex at safety, and some work inside as a blitzer make Chido a good candidate to breakout this season. The 6’0” 202lbs DB certainly has the athleticism to get it done. With a pSPAQ score of 137.9, Awuzie was the 5th ranked CB in his class according to 3 sigma athlete. Rating in the 97.7th percentile in the NFL, Chido has the size and athleticism to be a star.

Like the two before him, Chido has both the opportunity and physical ability to get it done in the NFL. The stage is set.

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Honorable mention: Dornace Armstrong  – Armstrong is undoubtedly a pet cat of mine and based on mini-camp reviews, he’s about to be a lot more people’s pet cat. While I truly believe he’ll step up big in 2019, I don’t think he’s going to get a ton of opportunities in Dallas’ extremely deep DE rotation