When the Dallas Cowboys drafted cornerback Kelvin Joseph in the second round of the draft this year, they did so with the intention of him being the eventual starter. Planned or not, the same blueprint was executed last season when Dallas made their 2020 second round pick, Trevon Diggs, the boundary starter opposite Chidobe Awuzie.
So it’s understandable fans are penciling in Kelvin Joseph as the starter next to Diggs here in 2021. We see it in preseason depth charts, 53-man roster predictions, and various articles around Cowboys Nation. But the reality is, Joseph isn’t the starter. He’s not even close to it. That starting outside spot belongs to the oft-overlooked cornerback, Anthony Brown.
It’s not a bad thing Anthony Brown is ahead of Kelvin Joseph and Nahshon Wright on the Dallas Cowboys depth chart
Anthony Brown, a five year veteran on the Dallas Cowboys, is arguably the most versatile cornerback on the roster. The Cowboys (in) famously despise moving cornerbacks inside and outside. They have clearly defined roles and specific traits for each spot and rarely do players cross those lines. Therefore it’s noteworthy when a player like Brown repeatedly becomes the exception to their rule.
Anthony Brown, 5-foot-11, 200lbs, has spent a career bouncing between the slot and boundary with the Cowboys. Paid to be the slot man, Brown is typically the first alternate in case anything goes wrong outside. With 4.35 speed and 66 games of experience under his belt, Brown has served as the insurance policy of sorts for Dallas.
And that’s why the starting outside spot is likely his to lose.
The Dallas Cowboys didn’t want to draft Kelvin Joseph
Keep in mind, the Dallas Cowboys did not roll into the 2021 NFL Draft looking to make Joseph their pick. Knowing they needed a plug-and-play starter at CB, they hoped a top CB would be available to them at Pick 10. Like a lot of us, they were surprised when Patrick Surtain and Jaycee Horn were both off the board when they went on the clock.
Whether Kelvin Joseph was Plan B, C, or W at cornerback is unknown, but we know he wasn’t the ideal pick for them and with only nine career starts under his belt, he’s far from the plug-and-play CB they were looking for. As most scouting reports agree, Joseph is extremely raw and inexperienced. He’s a high ceiling/high floor prospect and will take a little seasoning before he can be a trusted starter on a contending team.
For as raw and unpolished Trevon Diggs seemed last year, Joseph is even more so. And we know from previous analysis, rookie CBs notoriously struggle and Trevon Diggs, who struggled as a rookie himself, was actually and expectation to the rule and performed far better than most.
First round CBs struggle immensely as rookies, latter round CBs are even worse. Expecting the extremely inexperienced Joseph to be another exception to the rule is a little delusional. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, just highly unlikely.
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Now we have to factor in the fact Kelvin Joseph hasn’t even been practicing in OTAs. For a guy lacking experience, that’s not a good thing to hear. We needn’t be down on Joseph for this, we just need to be realistic. He still has CB1 potential and he’s fast, strong, and agile enough to play inside/outside just like Anthony Brown one day. To think Dallas might be grooming a CB capable of shadowing receivers is pretty great. But we have to have the patience for this grooming process.
Perhaps this is why the Cowboys decided to re-sign Jourdan Lewis. Brown had proven to be the superior slot CB, so re-signing Lewis was a bit of a headscratcher. But after seeing Brown play significant snaps on the boundary it suddenly makes sense.
Does this mean Kelvin Joseph is destined for a developmental year?
Of course not. Joseph will be given every opportunity to claim a starting spot here in 2021. Brown is by no mean idea as a starter. Brown’s not even a lock to make the team. His contract and injury history make him expendable. If Joseph, Nahshon Wright, or others look good in camp (and/or Brown gets injured again), Brown may get cut.
But as of today, the starting cornerback on the outside is clearly Anthony Brown. And it’s not even close.
- Published on 06/16/2021 at 16:01 PM
- Last updated at 06/16/2021 at 14:12 PM