Cowboys position series: Cornerbacks

July, 5, 2013
7/05/13
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The last in ESPNDallas.com’s 10-part position series:

Roster locks: Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Orlando Scandrick, B.W. Webb

On the bubble: Sterling Moore

Long shots: Xavier Brewer, Devin Smith, Brandon Underwood

What’s new? Monte Kiffin’s known as the architect of the Tampa 2, but it’s not like the Dallas Cowboys will be solely a Cover 2 defense now. Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne will still play a lot of man and Cover 3.

They won’t play off of receivers very often, though. Kiffin’s corners will play press on a regular basis, a challenge they welcome. As Carr likes to say, they’ll be in the faces of receivers who will find out the coverage after the snap.

Unlike last season, Claiborne had a healthy offseason. He was behind the curve when he reported to his rookie training camp because he missed all of the offseason practices while recovering from wrist surgery. He’s more comfortable and confident entering his second season.

Fourth-round pick B.W. Webb gives the Cowboys another natural slot cornerback, something the team lacked when Orlando Scandrick suffered a season-ending injury last year.

Camp competition: Webb would have to be phenomenal in Oxnard to challenge Scandrick for the nickel corner role. That should be a camp competition at some point, but probably not this year.

For this year, we’ll have to settle for Sterling Moore trying to hold off the undrafted rookies for the fifth corner job.

2013 hope: The starting corners need to live up to their billing. That didn’t happen in 2012, when Carr and Claiborne combined for only four interceptions, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.

That’s not good enough for a tandem that features a $50 million man and the No. 6 overall pick in a draft.

After Kiffin’s hiring, the Cowboys’ corners were told to study the schemes in Chicago and Seattle from last season. They saw the standard for cornerbacks in the modern-day version of the Tampa 2. They watched tough, physical playmakers in Seattle’s Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner and Chicago’s Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings.

The Cowboys believe Carr and Claiborne can be that of corner tandem.

Future forecast: The starters are set for the foreseeable future.

Carr, 27, is entering the second season of a five-year deal that was actually negotiated with the expectation that he’d play the entire contract. Claiborne, 23, has three seasons remaining on his rookie deal.

Scandrick’s future job security, on the other hand, isn’t so certain. He should be a roster lock again next year, when the Cowboys would lose a little more than $100,000 in cap space if they cut him. In 2015, Scandrick will probably have to beat out Webb to keep his spot on the Cowboys’ roster.

The Cowboys could create about $3.5 million in cap space if they cut Scandrick in 2015, which would be the fourth year of his five-year, $27 million deal. Webb is due to count only $695,845 against the salary cap that season.

The Cowboys ranked Webb as the No. 47 player on this year’s draft board. If they’re right about him, he’ll be a cap-friendly slot corner by his third season, and Scandrick will move on to another team.

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