The Dallas Cowboys were banking on Kelvin Joseph and/or Nahshon Wright to step up this season. The former Day 2 picks from the 2021 NFL Draft came into their sophomore seasons with something to prove.
Joseph set out to prove he was more football player than Bossman Fat. Wright, that he was a legit every-down cornerback. Neither succeeded in such tasks.
Joseph looked lost in preseason action and probably wouldn’t have made the team if it wasn’t for his draft status and unrealized potential. Wright looked the part in practice but when the bright lights of the preseason came on, he was anything but.
Outside of Trevon Diggs, the youth movement at cornerback was shaping up to be a disaster. It seemed the Dallas Cowboys would have to, once again, lean on Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis to hold things down for the foreseeable future.
Rookie fifth rounder, DaRon Bland, came out of the shadows in camp and proved to be steal of the Dallas Cowboys draft.
Bland wasn’t a name many outside of draft community knew very well heading into the draft. Coming from Fresno State, Bland was just the 44th ranked CB in Dane Brugler’s rankings. The 6-foot-0 200lb corner was a no-star recruit with 4.46 speed and relatively stiff hips.
Yet his draft stick started picking up before the draft when scouts started taking note of his closing speed, toughness, and natural instincts for the ball. He showed to be a physical player with strong mental toughness and special teams ability. And his 76 3/4 inch wingspan certainly didn’t hurt.
In camp, Bland started popping from the start. He played outside as well as inside. He could cover a wide range of WR types with consistency and he was able to carry that consistency over in preseason games, showing sticky coverage and strong tackling ability from the slot as well as the boundary.
DaRon Bland looked/looks a lot like Anthony Brown 2.0
While Brown has his share of haters in Cowboys Nation, he’s been an integral part of this secondary for years, arguably being one of the most valuable given his position flex and modest price tag. Brown, once upon a time also a Day 3 pick, contributed as a rookie himself. He aid the groundwork for a pathway to success in Dallas with his steady play and inside-outside ability.
Bland starts the 2022 season ahead of two players who were drafted higher than him and also have a year of service under their belts. That’s not easy to do in Dallas (Cowboys front office really likes their high draft picks).
In all fairness, the story is far from written regarding Kelvin Joseph and Nahshon Wight. Joseph has elite ability, he just needs his confidence back and a ton of practice reps. I profiled his play last season and Kelvin Joseph looked pretty good for the Dallas Cowboys.
Nahshon Wright looked strong in his Dallas Cowboys regular season debut as well. After watching his film, I’m even more optimistic he can build a career in Dallas (see article below)
We break down the film and see how the Dallas Cowboys most reviled draft pick did in his starting debut - it was shockingly good, my friends.
Did DaRon Bland make us forget about Wright and Bossman. No. What DeRon Bland’s rookie breakout offers, is patience. Instead focusing on what appears to be the Cowboys draft failures at the CB position, fans can focus on the success of this steal.
The way the depth chart stands, Bland is probably no better than CB4. Diggs, Brown and Lewis have the top spots on lock. But even as the fourth man up, Bland will see plenty of opportunities and his contributions on special teams will keep him on the field.
There’s still plenty of time for Wright and Joseph to realize their potential. Bland just bides them time and keeps the Dallas Cowboys proper deep at the CB position this season.
- Published on 09/01/2022 at 22:01 PM
- Last updated at 08/31/2022 at 19:29 PM