Dallas Cowboys: Is Trevon Diggs the CB1 we need him to be?

Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dallas Cowboys are taking a gamble at cornerback this year. They are seeking to replace the steady, albeit unimpressive, Chidobe Awuzie at outside cornerback and have a handful of unproven candidates duking it out in training camp.

But the gamble doesn’t necessarily end there. Notably, the Dallas Cowboys are absolutely banking on Trevon Diggs to be their CB1. The second year player was thrust into the starting role last season, and this season he’s being relied on to take that next step and be the veteran cornerstone across from whoever claims Chido’s old spot.

The Dallas Cowboys need Trevon Diggs to be a legit CB1 this season

Need I remind Cowboys Nation, Diggs’ rookie season wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. He started the season as one of the very worst starting CBs in the entire NFL. He flashed ball skills and awareness but gave up a ton of yards and graded out in the bottom percentile. Things didn’t look good early.

Trevon Diggs could be the single most important player on defense this season

But for as poorly as he started, he finished aggressively dominant down the stretch. In fact, Chido had a top-5 coverage grade the second half of the season and looked like a seasoned veteran – not a floundering second round rookie.

The Dallas Cowboys are banking on the 2021 version of Trevon Diggs to look more like the late season guy than the early season guy. It’s a fair expectation given his natural progression throughout last year and the way he’s handling himself in training camp this year.

The reason it’s such a gamble is because there really is no Plan B here. It’s Diggs or bust in 2021 and Dallas is 100% banking on him being the top cornerback of the bunch.

Finding starting boundary cornerbacks is not a simple task. Teams spend years trying to fill the all-important spot and usually spend through the teeth to do so. At CB2, the Cowboys are basically throwing a second round pick and handful of veterans at the position and hoping one of them sticks.

We’ve discussed in the past, rookie CBs rarely hit the ground running and Trevon Diggs’ 2020 season is largely the exception to the rule and not something fans should expect. So with that said, we should expect a bumpy road for the rookies Kelvin Joseph and Nahshon Wright, no matter how excited we are with their play in camp.

That means CB2 could be an up-and-down endeavor this season and we need to be prepared for that. That also means there’s more pressure on Trevon Diggs to be that solid CB1 because Dallas can’t afford another up-and-down season from him.

At the end of the day we feel confident in Trevon Diggs’ play and progression. He quickly developed into a smart and savvy player who is aggressive but not too aggressive. He practices against the best WRs in the NFL on a daily basis and is building knowledge and confidence by the day.

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I just ask that we recognize the importance of Diggs on this team because so much is hanging on him being the guy we hope he is. Trevon Diggs could be the single most important player on defense this season and that’s not just a hot take.

Keep in mind, for as bad as Dallas’ run-D was last year they were considerably worse in coverage. They finished last in the league in opposing WR2 DVOA and were routinely destroyed through the air. With the stakes higher here in 2021, Dallas is going to find themselves in a lot more shootouts and that means more pressure will be on the secondary. The Cowboys NEED Diggs to be a solid force.

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How are you feeling about Trevon Diggs in 2021? What’s your level of concern? For me, the concern is low but the stakes are high.