Dallas Cowboys Draft: Is Patrick Surtain II or Caleb Farley the better choice

Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /
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Caleb Farley, CB Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Caleb Farley, CB Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /



In Dan Quinn’s Cover 1/Cover 3 defense, cornerbacks need to understand how to overlap routes in the deep third of the field they cover. Instincts are an important part to this defense because if the deep defenders aren’t communicating well before and after the snap, a defender could be forced to pick between two receivers in his zone likely resulting in a completion.

Before his retirement, Virginia Tech ran Bud Foster’s 4-2-5 defense which utilized a lot of “Bear” fronts designed to stop the run even with more DBs on the field with the help of bigger interior tackles and overhand safeties that could fill gaps and alleys like LBs. (Often called a Rover)

With bigger players on the field clogging the interior gaps, it allowed athletic LBs to rush the passer often leaving the DBs in man coverage. The defense worked for many years and fundamentally speaking is quite creative.

That said, it didn’t leave the cornerbacks playing zone coverage very often, and when they did the team wasn’t super consistent because the calls changed quite a bit. Very rarely was Farley dropping back into a traditional Cover 3. He would be the Cloud defender on a Cover 6 or was the outside cornerback for an Inverted Cover 2.

This type of multiplicity led to a lot of confusion in Dallas, however, Dallas ran zone coverage quite consistently. The same could not be said about Virginia Tech. This is where the concerns about Farley’s range come into question. He wasn’t always confident how to overlap routes when covering the curl zone or as a defender in the deep third.


There always has to be a first-round cornerback with tackling issues doesn’t there? Farley doesn’t have issues per se, what he lacks is consistency with his pursuit angles. It’s quite clear that he doesn’t possess competitive or physical toughness concerns often engage with receivers in the alley to constrain running lanes. He just isn’t good at pursuing ball carriers in order to make the tackle.

In a Dan Quinn defensive locker room, the tackling issues that may currently be prevalent shouldn’t linger past a few games.

In summation, Farley is a good cornerback and should provide an instant impact for the team that drafts him. His combination of athletic ability, ball skills, and man coverage ability should be good enough to work with as he develops his instincts in zone coverage.