Dallas Cowboys Draft: Where are Good NFL Cornerbacks Drafted?

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys are in the market for new starting cornerback this offseason. They could address this need in free agency or via trade. But based on their history, they’ll probably lean on the draft to find their next next starting cornerback.

If the Dallas Cowboys hope to draft a starting caliber corner with Pro Bowl potential, they best understand where they come from, right? So today we look at the top cornerbacks in the league and look at exactly where they were drafted

If the Dallas Cowboys want to find a good CB in the draft, they should know where good CBs come from

To get a gasp of who the top cornerbacks are in the league today, we’ll utilize two resources:

  1. Pro Bowl invites
  2. Pro Football Focus player grades.

Both have obvious strengths and weaknesses to their methods. Pro Football Focus grades film and scores their execution. While this is usually a strong method for fair grading, sometimes players slip through the cracks because of unequal scheme demands and opportunities

For instance: Player A may be on an island in man coverage 90% of the time while Player B plays a variety of coverages and has safety support 90% of the time. Player B has a much easier job so he may nail his assignments and as such, score high grades. While Player A is given enormous responsibilities and understandably suffers a couple missteps (thus earning a lower grade).

The Pro Bowl votes can factor the above situation in a little better. Context can be used and conditions and responsibility can be factored. At the same time, Pro Bowl votes are notoriously based on name recognition and reputation and not always based on pure merit.

Looking at them together hedges the rankings a little better so that’s what we’ll do today:

2021 Pro Bowlers: Xavien Howard, Tre’Davious White, Marlon Humphrey, Stephon Gilmore, Jalen Ramsey, Jaire Alexander, Marshon Lattimore, and James Bradberry

PFF Top-10: Jaire Alexander, Xavien Howard, Bryce Callahan, Darious Williams, Jonathan Jones, Ahkello Witherspoon, James Bradberry, Jason Verrett, Jaylon Ramsey, and Xavier Rhodes

What does their draft status tell us?

  • All of the Pro Bowlers, except for one, were first round picks and the one who wasn’t (Xavien Howard) was a second rounder.
  • Five of the PFF top-10 are first rounders
  • Three of the PFF Top-10 are undrafted
  • 70 percent of the PFF top-10 were picked in the top 100
  • All repeat Pro Bowlers were picked in rounds one or two (Howard being the lone second rounder)

What can we gleam from this?

If you want good-to-great cornerbacks, you will probably need to draft him high. Preferably in the first round.

Some may argue that is true with any position – that higher draft picks are simply more likely to be better players. While true, we see lower drafted players frequently thrive in positions like WR, OG, OC, DT, SAF, and LB. Cornerback appears to be different.

We also see that in the right circumstances, undrafted cornerbacks can earn top grades for their play – but sustained success comes from the highly drafted players. As we know from previous studies, coverage grades are generally unstable year-to-year already. We see now that’s especially true for players drafted outside the top two rounds.

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Dallas Cowboys Takeaways

The Dallas Cowboys need to find a starting cornerback in this April’s Draft. If they want someone with Pro Bowl potential they need to address the position with their top pick. If they want to find a top graded cornerback they’ll need to do the same.

While even undrafted players can thrive, it’s unlikely you’ll find a CB1 outside of Round 1. And if you do find a diamond in the rough later on, chances are he’ll be fairly inconsistent with his year-to-year performance.

Some have said, Dan Quinn’s single high scheme can be manned by “traits” guys and don’t necessarily need pedigreed blue chip players. I think that’s true to a certain degree but you still can’t expect to get a decent starter outside of the top-100 of the draft.

Cornerback is very much a “you get what you pay for” kind of position.

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Looking at the top CBs in the NFL these days it’s clear they all come early in the Draft. If Dallas wants to find a CB1, they’ll probably need to use their first round pick to do it.

  • Published on 01/25/2021 at 13:01 PM
  • Last updated at 01/25/2021 at 09:16 AM