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Cowboys interest in CB position at 2024 combine a sign of draft intent

There’s a common agreement amongst the fanbase as to what the positions of need are for the Cowboys this offseason.

Linebacker is a clear need, with the unit getting completely exposed in 2023. Defensive tackle is a clear need with the entirety of the middle run defense reliant on part-timer Johnathan Hankins (who happens to also be a free agent). Offensive line is a need with two starters hitting free agency this offseason and two players possibly prepping for their last seasons in the NFL. Running back is a need with Tony Pollard and Rico Dowdle both potentially departing in free agency.

For as clear as the needs appear to be in 2024, one need appears to be flying under most people’s radar; cornerback.

The NFL draft can be a wild and unpredictable beast. Teams who are prepared for anything are usually the ones who come out on top. It’s why teams like the Cowboys devote so much time and so many resources in the process.

Nobody takes evaluation lightly and while due diligence across all positions is important for a well-prepared team, some actions from a team can be read like tea leaves in order to decipher their draft-day intentions.

Cowboys interviews

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The Cowboys interview process is long and thorough. Dallas meets with players at the combine, on the phone, at pro days and at The Star in Frisco. They can formal or informal. In person or virtual. They are also finite. The Cowboys can’t talk to everyone so each one matters and is conducted with purpose.

Early in the combine process it appears the Cowboys are taking special interest in the CB position. Not a glaring position of need, the Cowboys seem to know something fans do not. Stephon Gilmore and Jourdan Lewis may not be returning. Nahshon Wright and Eric Scott may not be ready to contribute real snaps. Free agency might look expensive and/or unattractive.

Trevon Diggs and DaRon Bland

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys CB room is a top-heavy one. They have the NFL’s two top ballhawks leading the unit and not much more after that. If history is any indication, Dallas needs to be four or even five deep at CB.

Diggs is returning from a season-ending knee injury and while he’s supposed to make a full recovery, the Cowboys have had that expectation burn them too many times before to not build contingency plans.

An argument can also be made, building a unit three or even four deep in starting level talent will pay dividends against some of the more high-powered offenses.

Rookie contracts = cheap labor

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

With big money going to Diggs henceforth, the Cowboys need to find ways to keep the CBs around him as affordable as possible. A great way to do that is to add new players on rookie contracts.

Dallas still has Bland on a rookie deal for two more seasons. He’s the perfect combination of cheap and talented. Using another relatively high pick on CB should provide another starting caliber player at bottom barrel prices.

Bland also has inside-outside flex so if the Cowboys do use a first or second round pick on a CB, he would have an instant pathway to start given Bland’s flexibility.

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Something to monitor

(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

What the Cowboys do in free agency and in the lead up to the draft will say a lot. OL still seems like the predominant need but the case for a CB makes sense from a need and financial perspective.

If a bargain veteran falls into their laps in free agency, it could change everything. So could an upgrade at LB, DT, or OL in free agency. But if the interviews are any indication, CB is among the top positions of interest for the Cowboys so no one should sleep on these prospects.

Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire