In part one of this series we discussed how we see things shaking down amongst the over populated line backing corps.
This next group some might say is the most critical to the Cowboys success, and I would be one of those people. As far as the defense goes this unit holds all the keys to success!
This very potent and powerful defense cannot do the things it wants without solid secondary play. The Cowboys have spent a lot of time and draft picks on shoring up the secondary, from first on the depth chart down to the last man on the chart.
So let’s take a look at what they have going to camp!
Terrence Newman – Will be the starting Left Corner (barring Injury)
Mike Jenkins – Heading into camp as the leading candidate to start at Right Corner, but will have to battle to keep the spot.
Orlando Scandrick – The leading candidate to replace Jenkins if he stumbles, and most assuredly the best Nickel corner on the team.
Alan Ball – Alan has a leg up on the rest of the competition heading into camp based off of the solid year he had in 2008 with the boys.
Mike Mickens – By most accounts the steal of the draft, thought by many to be a top of the 2nd round guy the Cowboys were able to wait and pick him up in the middle of the 7th. Should be able to contribute in special teams right away.
Ken Hamlin – Will be the starting Free Safety again this year for the Cowboys, and thanks to an upgrade at Strong safety Hamlin should be able to get back to his 2007 Pro Bowl form.
Gerald Sensebaugh – One of the Cowboys top free agents acquisitions this year should add a much needed dimension to the Cowboys secondary.
Courtney Brown – Originally a Corner but made the switch to Safety at the start of 2007. Brown has the ability to be a ball hawking safety, this being his third year with the team and at safety means that this is a make or break year for him. Could also see some time at corner.
Pat Watkins – Is a big athletic, rangy player the Cowboys had high hopes for this young man, unfortunately that has not come to fruition just yet. Pat is a solid special teams player (has gotten lost a few times however) Special teams play will not keep him on the team this year, he must prove his worth as a safety.
Jerome Carter – Former 4th round selection of the St.Louis Rams in 2005 and spent all of last year out of work, was signed to a futures contract by the Cowboys in January.
DeAngelo Smith – The Cowboys used the first of two 5th round picks on Mike Mickens collegiate teammate. DeAngelo was a top cornerback in college but the Cowboys have moved him over to safety, giving themselves more options at the position. In the early stages of his career could see some opportunities at corner as well.
Michael Hamlin – The second of two 5th round selections Hamlin is a pure Free Safety, while lacking a little in the pure speed department he makes up for in instincts and awareness, hard hitting safety that has a nose for the ball and an exceptional leader.
Last year the Cowboys kept seven Cornerbacks and 4 Safeties, and I think those are probably pretty decent figures to go with this year. So with that in mind the coaching staff will have some major decisions to make.
With eleven spots available and 12 players vying for those spots the competition could get very heated in San Antonio.
My belief is that the Cowboys will end up releasing Jerome Carter, and then use DeAngelo Smith, and Courtney Brown as “Tweeners” leaving the secondary looking something like this.
Terrence Newman , Orlando Scandrick
Mike Jenkins , Alan Ball
Courtney Brown , DeAngelo Smith
Ken Hamlin , Courtney Brown , DeAngelo Smith
Gerald Sensebaugh , Michael Hamlin , Pat Watkins
I would however like to say that I would not be a bit surprised if Pat Watkins was released as well. Pat has gotten several opportunities to claim a spot on this team and has simply not capitalized on those opportunities.
Who stays and who goes in your view?