The Dallas Cowboys maybe losing two of their top-4 cornerbacks in free agency this offseason. Chidobe Awuzie (CB2) and Jourdan Lewis (CB4) both stand to profit on the open open market. Dallas, hardly in position to be big time bidders in free agency, will likely turn to the 2021 NFL Draft or the bottom of their roster to find answers.
Given their lack of depth in the secondary, it’s likely both avenues will be explored this offseason. While we’ve spoken incessantly about the draft (and will continue to do so for the next eight weeks), let’s take a moment to look at the current roster.
Maurice Canady is a dark-horse candidate to be a top-4 cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys in 2021
One of Dallas’ less publicized signings last offseason was a former sixth round pick out of Virginia named Maurice Canady. Since entering the league in 2016, Canady appeared in 32 games playing a total of 728 snaps on defense (for reference, Trevon Diggs played 702 snaps in 2020 alone) logging 66 solo tackles, six pass deflections, and one interception.
In 2019 he only allowed a passer rating of 79 when targeted, giving up 6.9 yards/target, and didn’t give up a single touchdown. He was rated as one of Pro Football Focus‘ top CBs that year making him possible steal when the Dallas Cowboys inked him to that modest one year deal last spring.
Unfortunately, none of us got to see Canady play last year when he opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID concerns. As such, his modest one year deal gets kicked to 2021, and Canady enters a much less crowded cornerback room this season. This could set him up for a rather significant role this year.
Last seen, Canady looks the part of a Dallas Cowboys cornerback. He’s 6-foot-1, and nearly 200lbs. He has long arms and a preference for playing bail zone on the boundary. He does a good job covering the deep portion of the Cover 3.
He plays conservatively and will give up the underneath stuff in order to prevent the big plays. His play style is well suited for his 4.49 speed and he always seems to play within himself (unlike Jourdan Lewis). He doesn’t have the stats to back it up but he really does have an eye for the ball and plays aware (unlike Chido).
Canady is also a strong tackler, only missing two tackles in 2019 and keeping a missed tackle percentage below 5%. This also speaks to his strong special teams play where he’s been a consistent performer.
Prognosticating his future on the Dallas Cowboys
It would be a stretch to think Maurice Canady can slide into Chido’s CB2 role smoothly and that kind of outcome may be more of an indictment on the roster than something to hope for. But he can certainly be a rotational outside CB as the CB4 and log a few injury replacement starts along the way.
Since rookie CBs often have growing pains, it’s also conceivable that Dallas uses Canady as a Week 1 starter, and try to ease a rookie into the starting role as the season progresses.
At the very least he looks like a top-5 CB and special teams ace. Which could be bad news for my favorite underrated player, C.J. Goodwin. Goodwin is still Canady’s superior on special teams (C.J.’s probably top-5 in the entire NFL), but Goodwin can’t play CB like Canady. That position flex may be all the Dallas Cowboys need to keep Canady around and show C.J. the door.
Be excited about Maurice Canady. He looks like he can be a top-4 cornerback and special teams asset for Dallas this season and that should provide some comfort to that very uncomfortable situation the Cowboys have in their secondary.